It turns out that rather than becoming the Minister for Europe, Geoff Hoon quietly died a couple of months ago.Â I know this because in an extraordinary statement to the Commons today, his successor as Leader of the House Jack Straw channelled his spirit:
“I also just say, and I’m glad this has been recognised on all sides of the House, there has to be recognition by members of the House that if the order paper is absolutely overloaded with questions in industrial quantities, by researchers, in some cases never been seen by the members, then there are bound to be logjams,” he added.
“There is a real problem, I’m glad to see there is assent for this.
“I am assiduous, and so are all my colleagues, in ensuring wherever possible questions are answered.
“But we have a problem in the House, which is called researchers trying to prove a point and the result of these websites called TheyWorkForYou which simply seem to measure MPs’ work by quantitative rather than qualitative measures.
“It is a matter for the whole of the House, not just for ministers.”
To be fair, it could simply be that Jack Straw was simply being an idiot – he’s certainly shown a capacity for idiocy in the past.Â But until now his appointment as Leader of the House was a breath of fresh air compared to his predeccessor and he is probably the most intelligent person to take on the role since Robin Cook.
Let’s get this straight: MPs across the Commons are blithely allowing their researchers to submit questions without their explicit approval?Â Are MPs really that incompetent?Â And this is all because of some willy-waving exercise to get their stats improved on theyworkforyou?
To be fair, some spotty little oik admitted as much at the Hansard debate earlier this week on Parliament and eDemocracy.Â But there are two things wrong with this picture: firstly, if MPs can’t accept responsibility for what goes on in their own offices, what will they take responsibility for (in Mark Oaten’s case, not even for having an affair behind his wife’s back it would seem).Â Secondly, and with all due respect to the guys behind theyworkforyou, what are these prannocks doing taking the league tables on a minority interest website like this so seriously in the first place?
There is a serious debate to be had about how we can measure the performance of MPs effectively.Â That debate is not being lead by Jack Straw, or any other MP for that matter, but by theyworkforyou themselves – on 7 November in fact. Will Jack Straw be there?Â Having made this attack, he’d bloody better be.
I’ve added a pledge on theyworkforyou’s sister website pledgebank and would encourage people reading this to sign it.