Researchers' stories: Off the record
This article is from the January 2013 issue of Total Politics
I work in the next-door building to David Lammy, the ever-diligent member for Tottenham, and often end up walking in front of or behind him on the way to my office. I mentioned the other day, while having a few drinks with some other researchers, how I noticed that he barely ever says ‘thank you’ when I open the door for him. Furthermore, he hardly ever holds the door open for me. The researchers I was with agreed. In fact, we decided to offer him the title “Rudest MP 2012”. As my mother always said, manners don’t cost a thing... Naturally, the conversation moved on to which MP was the opposite. It was decided that the member who always made an effort to open the door, and never fails to say “thank you” is Sheryll Murray, the member for South East Cornwall. Well done, Sheryll.
My MP recently travelled to another constituency on a visit. As usual, he booked his tickets through trainline.com [other train ticket retailers are available]. He noticed he could save the taxpayer a bit of cash by buying a first class train ticket, which was actually cheaper than the second class equivalent. However, I found out on his return that he had skulked off to find an unreserved seat in second class, rather than take his reservation in first. Why? Because he was frightened by the publicity George Osborne earned when he travelled first class a few months ago.
Mind the fixtures!
MPs often host receptions for charities or businesses in the House of Commons. One room for hire is the Jubilee Room, a smallish and fairly ornate room just off Westminster Hall. My MP held a reception there not long ago. I helped the group set up – organised the seats and erected some of their pop-up stands. I then nipped back to the office to get them some labels, as they had forgotten to bring some. When I returned, I found out that they’d sellotaped some posters to the walls. I and the policeman stationed just outside had simultaneous heart attacks when we saw the opulent wallpaper that covered the centuries-old walls coated in sellotape. Fortunately, the wallpaper didn’t rip off when they eventually took it down, but I was bloody scared it might have done.
A long-serving, heroic caseworker from my MP’s constituency office was sadly on her way to retirement last month, so we had to interview for a replacement. I fear the anecdotes about the unemployability of the youth today might be true. One young woman interrupted every second question or so to ask whether she was doing it right, at one point asking, "What do I have to say to impress you?" Safe to say, that wasn’t it.