Chariddy begins at House?

More opinionpollballs in the Guardian today. Apparently, the Great British Public wants MPs to do a statutory 7 hours a week for chariddy.

If I ever acquire a John Hemming-style fortune, I’m going to entertain myself by commissioning banal opinion polls. For example, one thing I’m dying to know is whether the British public prefers kittens that are ‘hideous’, ‘ok-looking’, ‘quite cute’ or ‘very cute’.

In all seriousness, this poll is indicative of exactly the sort of mindless anti-politics that is all too pervasive in modern Britain. If every MP in the country did do 7 hours voluntary service each week, the first thing people would complain about is why they are no longer working 50-60 hours a week representing their constituents. It’s based on a complete ignorance of what MPs do and is designed to take a potshot rather than actually inform debate.

Most MPs I know in fact take it for granted that they should work on a variety of charitable and community-based projects. But charity fun-runs are no substitute for scrutinising legislation and holding government to account.

Frankly, I think we’ve already gone too far in terms of turning MPs into mobile Citizens Advice Bureaus and case-worker-extraordinaires. Apart from anything else, I suspect it is one of the main reasons why MPs have been so poor at blocking centralisation. If you devolve too much power, then the ability of MPs to manfully jump in and solve all their constituents’ problems would be severely limited. Instead, people would pay more attention further down the foodchain, something which would help both local politics and service delivery.

Throughout the debate on party funding in recent months, one of the most oft-cited arguments is that political parties already get public funding via their expenses allowances. Personally, I’m coming around to the conclusion that this is one of the more pernicious forms of state support, responsible for both distracting MPs away from their real job and undermining other politicians further down the foodchain. Other forms of party funding, in my view, would be far less pernicious (although I notice a lot of opponents of increased party funding are all for the status quo).


  1. An excellent post. I agree that people have no idea what MPs do. It is fuelled by the media, which loves showing footage of the empty Commons Chamber, as though an MPs job is to sit on the green benches for 40 hours a week!

  2. Perhaps they should each do a sponsored sit in the House of Commons for 7 hours each week, thereby killing two birds with one stone?

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