Researchers' stories: off the record

Written by 01 Sep 2012 on 1 September 2012 in Culture
Our anonymous staffers reveal what really goes on behind the scenes at Westminster

This article is from the August issue of Total Politics

Recess usually coincides with the school holidays, meaning we play host to work experience students. One morning, I had a call from Portcullis House reception. “Tom” had arrived, a student who’d been sent to Westminster for the day by the constituency office. I went down and brought him up. We had a polite chat, and then I made him do the post. Half an hour later, I had another call from reception reminding me that “Tom” was still there. When I had asked, “Are you Tom?”, I should have checked it was the right one. More worryingly, the Tom who came up to the office never realised he was in the wrong office, despite my MP’s name being on the door and having opened much of his post! (To the researcher who was looking for his “Tom” – sorry.)
In thought, word… and deed?
Readers may recall an outburst by ‘Cameron Cutie’ Claire Perry when she was not called by Speaker John Bercow to contribute to a debate. The Member for Devizes stormed into the Commons Tea Room, shouting: “What have I got to do to be called by the Speaker? Give him a b*** j**?” This incident really annoyed my MP, a similarly ambitious backbencher, who pointed out the other day that her threat to the Speaker’s modesty has boosted her profile and given her “… a lot more column inches than she deserves”. He continued: “She’s got more out of her outburst than she would if she actually gave him one!”
Fixing the match
Which MP was recently contacted by a Premier League manager in his constituency, requesting that he contact the Home Office to expedite a passport application for his relative in return for a pair of tickets to a game next season?
Pot calling the kettle black
Much has been made in Westminster recently about the PM’s tendency to “chillax”. According to a new book, he’s hooked on the Fruit Ninja iPad game, likes a glass or two of red wine with his Sunday lunch (shock horror) and has the audacity to keep fit by playing tennis. Scenting blood, John Spellar MP was unleashed by the Labour Party. He was quoted as saying: “Anyone who has ever been a minister knows that the pressures on your time are intense – and that is only a fraction of the time pressure faced by a prime minister. It is a round-the-clock job and I think it is frankly extraordinary that he is wasting time on computer games.” Recounting the comment to a friend, who served under Spellar in the Department for Transport, he remarked on its ferocity, adding: “That’s a bit rich coming from him. By all accounts, he was pretty dire.”

Tags: Issue 50, Researchers' Stories

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