Researchers' stories: Off the record

Written by 24 Jan 2014 on 24 January 2014 in Culture
What have our anonymous Westminster staffers been up to this month?

While out one day in the constituency with my MP, the second appointment was to an irate man who had numerous problems. He shouted at us for about half an hour, and topics included immigration, housing, the England football team, the England cricket team and Angela Eagle. Imagine my surprise when, at the end of the day, I was in a pub and saw him there. After a couple of jars, I went to say hello. He sat me down and insisted we got hammered. He confided afterwards that he had not been impressed by my MP, but would vote for him anyway on the basis that I was a good lad and a drinker.

The Lord giveth, and…

I recently met a constituent at surgery whose housing benefit had been withdrawn. After a 10-minute conversation about the whys and wherefores of council policy, I established that the payments had been stopped because she’d taken in a lodger. Her excuse was that she’d had a vision from the Lord to take in a man off the streets, and that He would provide. What’s more, she asked me to include this in the letter we wrote to the council chief executive. God knows what he must have thought when it landed on his desk...

Music to his peers

My friend, who works for a member of the Lords, plays in a band in his spare time. He’s come up with an excellent way of getting his mixes noticed by pub managers – he sends them out in parliamentary envelopes. I’ve warned him this isn’t strictly street legal, but he seems fine about it.

A source-y app

Described by the Telegraph as “the casual sex app”, Tinder links up single people within a certain area. As a lonely singleton, I was flicking through my “recommendations” when I noticed someone I knew. It was my MP’s son, who lives a few miles away from our constituency office. Mischievously, I “liked” him, and was surprised when he “liked” me back. In these circumstances, Tinder allows you to chat to each other. Considering he doesn’t know who I am, it started out as quite entertaining. However, it got a bit awkward when he asked me on a date. I haven’t responded... yet...

From the casework pile:

We recently received this letter from a constituent: “Dear MP, I would like to complain about my child benefit, or more specifically, lack of. I was astonished to find that when my child turned 17 that my benefit stopped. Why is this? He is still my child! My child is my child, no matter what age I am or what age he is. No matter how old he gets, he will still cost me money, so why should the government expect me to pay for it? I would be most grateful if you could take this matter to the prime minister and ask him to extend it for as long I, or he is, alive. Yours sincerely, Constituent.”

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