What MPs get up to in their spare time

Written by Total Politics has a free weekly Friday email bulletin. Follow this link to register. on 16 August 2011 in Diary
While they're away from Westminster, Total Politics gives you an insight into what your parliamentarians will be doing with their summers

Politicians can seem like boring creatures, with endless workloads and demanding constituents they are periodically characterised by the media as being out of touch with the ‘real world’.  Yet the hobbies of MPs and other politicians are varied and often surprising, with recess offering the perfect opportunity to indulge in these unusual pastimes.

Dan Byles (Conservative MP for North Warwickshire and Bedworth) certainly challenges himself in his free time, having successfully rowed across the Atlantic Ocean in 1997.  Ten years later, Byles trekked to the North Pole, a feat he accomplished just after being selected as the Conservative Party Candidate for the North Warwickshire seat to which he was subsequently elected.  Although he has no immediate plans for another expedition, Byles says that as an MP “every day is different and every day is an adventure”. Looks like, for now at least, politics is excitement enough for the new MP. 

Gil Paterson (SNP MSP for West of Scotland Region) is another dare-devil politician, choosing to spend what time he can on the slopes.  Having taken up the challenge of learning to ski at the age of 47, Paterson decided to go one step further and learn to snowboard nearly ten years later.  He says that he enjoys the outdoors and the ease of boarding compared to skiing, and is so keen on his hobby that he keeps in practice by visiting indoor snow-domes in the UK.  Calling himself “the oldest snowboarder in town”, Paterson could give many younger politicians a run for their money in the cool-stakes. 

Caroline Dinenage (Conservative MP for Gosport) is also into sport, having started the Conservative Party Netball Group since being elected in 2010.  When Dinenage isn’t playing “the other beautiful game” she is busy promoting the benefits of netball as a sport in association with England Netball, the official governing body for the game. 

Sat in the House of Commons equivalent of the umpire’s seat, it is little surprise that John Bercow (Speaker of the House of Commons and Conservative MP for Buckingham) is interested in tennis.  Bercow is a qualified lawn tennis coach, and regularly plays in the Lords and Commons Tennis Club.  He even toyed with the idea of playing professionally, before being sucked into the world of politics instead. 

Find out more about what MPs get up to in their spare time each month in the Life section of Total Politics

Tags: Caroline Dinenage, Dan Byles, Gil Paterson, Hinterland, John Bercow, MPs, Parliament

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