When MPs become bullies: Felicity Parkes

Written by Felicity Parkes on 28 January 2013 in Opinion
Why MPs become big bullies over little blunders – let alone in massive crises – and how their staffers can avoid the abuse

This article is from the February 2013 issue of Total Politics

There will always be mistakes and cock-ups in any work place, especially in the office of an MP. 
Anything from a missed meeting, not hanging up on the phone properly as the MP complains about a constituent they’ve just spoken to, to an article in the local press about their expenses. The main thing to look out for is not how many of these occur but rather how the MP handles them.
A majority will either accept blame themselves or rally the team together in order to “learn lessons”. Sadly there will always be a few who will scream and swear whilst blaming everyone else. 
The best way to deal with these individuals is to put your head down and not make eye contact as they stomp through the office, throwing their BlackBerries at the filing cabinet whilst hurling some very unparliamentary language at their staffers. Some may even threaten bodily harm involving toilet paper or amputated legs. 
If possible, one needs to remain calm and steady when trying to explain that the problem had originated from outside the office. If the fault is with the member, then there’s no point trying to point that out unless things get really ugly. 
Chances are the MP will get even angrier if they’re told that they had the time and meeting location, as well as a map of the parliamentary estate with the location highlighted in pink. Never mind that I’ve spent a morning putting the briefing paper together – clearly the one job of reaching the meeting on time was still somehow the most difficult.
Being an MP can be stressful but I would ask all of them to make sure they’re not using their staff as emotional punch bags. After all, like you, we’re only human.

Tags: Bullying, Felicity Parkes, Issue 55, MPs

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