Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Scottish MPs – what do they actually do?

Part 1 of a weekly series of web delving.....

Yes, yes, I know they seem to spend their entire time shoving their noses into English business at Westminster – but what about their constituents, what do they do for them? Is it busy, busy, busy-all or bugger, bugger, bugger-all?

Because now that devolution has well and truly taken constituent enquiries for Planning, Local Government, Transport, Health and Education out of the in-trays of Scots MPs and piled them up in ever increasing numbers onto their MSP counterparts, we at Hereward House have been wondering what an average Scottish MP now actually does to occupy their time and earn their corn – and what constituency queries they tackle in their surgeries....

Let’s find out by taking a dip into the varied and interesting life of your average Scottish MP via their paid-for-by-the-public websites...

First stop is to the website of Gavin Strang (Labour, Edinburgh East). We are at Gav’s site first because he has provided a useful ‘MP or MSP’ button on his website. This will presumably stop all those embarrassing episodes at his surgery when he has to tell a constituent that he will have to take up the matter with the MSP Organ Grinder and not with him, the MP oily rag....

According to his site, Strang is responsible for - The Constitution, Defence, Foreign affairs, Electricity, coal, oil & gas, Nuclear energy, Employment, Financial and economic matters, Social security...

Susan Deacon the local MSP is responsible for - Agriculture, fisheries and forestry, Economic development, Education, The environment, The arts & sport, Food standards, Health, Housing, Social work, Local Government & planning, Transport policy (Scottish Ports & roads), Tourism....

As can be seen from the Gav-list, Strang is responsible for foreign affairs and defence – I wonder how often someone has sat down at his surgery desk and said “Mr Strang, I’ve been having a lot o’ trouble with Paraguayans parking their tanks on ma lawn – can ye write a letter?”

It is clear to see that Deacon has control of most of the real life day-to-day concerns of an average constituent – who therefore will see their MSP as being more relevant to their aspirations, achieving their goals and righting their wrong.

Assessment of Strang: Thumb twiddler.

Frank Doran (Labour, Aberdeen North) likes to think he has been very busy – as he keeps telling us just how busy he is... Under the sub head of ‘Local Issues’ and the bravura statement which follows it - ‘Below will give you an idea of the varied work that I have undertaken over the years in Aberdeen. Also you will find coverage of other local issues that are important to me personally'.

If you were expecting a typographical tirade of all things passionate from Frank then you really will be disappointed.

Frank’s last entry for the local issues that are apparently important to him personally is about how he was chosen to be a judge a Christmas Card competition. The competition was for Christmas of 2007 – a full year ago. There are no entries for 2008. All in all, there are just 10 ‘Local Issues’ that are important to Frank, stretching all the way back to 1997 – roughly one important issue per year...

Assessment of Doran: Useless lead swinger who isn't passionate about much at all.

Meanwhile, over at Aberdeen South, Anne Begg (Labour) has, according to her web strapline been ‘Standing up for her constituents' In her web page entitled ‘Working hard for you’, Anne shares with us punters exactly what passions have been driving her lately. First story is her protesting about job cuts in the local council (not relevant to her as Local Government is a devolved issue). Then there are three stories about the opening of a Health Centre, a Roving Surgery and a Coffee Morning for a local cancer charity. (All but the last item is not relevant to her as Health is a devolved issue).

Assessment of Begg: Not enough to do, not working hard for anyone. Desperate to get herself linked to local issues that simply have nothing to do with her.

And talking about ‘linkage’, over at Dunfermline West, Willie Rennie (Liberal Democrats) tries a different approach in order to try and hide his rather emasculated constituency duties. Willie has ‘teamed up’ with Jim Tolson, his MSP LibDem counterpart to head up one website. According to the site strap Both Willie and Jim are ‘fighting for Dunfermline and West Fife’.... Phew, that is a relief!

At every opportunity on the site it’s Willie & Jim pictured together doing stuff and fighting for Dunfermline and West Fife. Willie & Jim in hard hats, Willie & Jim in front of hospitals, Willie & Jim pressing the flesh.... It’s like they are joined at the hip. The deception is further enhanced with the single email address, you can only send to info@dunfermline.org.uk for any query – so it is the LibDem constituency backroom boys who decide which Dunfermline Defender of Democracy a constituent eventually gets to see.

Assessment of Rennie: The Willie & Jim show is more of a joke than a comedy act – although admittedly, one is short and fat while the other is tall and thin.

Willie & Jim - "It's 'good job' from him and 'no job' from me"....


Nigel Griffiths (Labour, Edinburgh South) on the other hand comes out fighting. Nigel is an aggressive, tough and no-nonsense type of MP... Throughout his site, Nige is portrayed as a sort of McRambo man of action for his constituents. It’s photos, photos, photos of Nigel as he gets to grips with the great issues concerning the folk on his patch. Got a problem? Call for Nige – if nothing else, he’ll give you a signed photo of himself to stick on your mantelpiece....

Suddenly, I’m getting the faint vibe of the Ghostbusters theme...
If you’ve got a prob,
And it don’t seem real,
Who’re gonna call?
Nige Griffiths!!

(and he will put you in touch with the local MSP who can actually do something)...


Nigel’s news section is a joy to behold. Within are a series of photo opportunities in which Nigel manages to get himself associated with Al Gore (green issues), Aung San Suu Kyi, the Burmese Opposition leader(human rights issues) and a couple of survivors from Nagasaki(nuclear arms race issues). That’s all the world stuff taken care of – but what about the mundane constituency stuff?

No problem! Nigel has simply sashayed over to MSP reserved issues like Education, Transport, Local Government and Health to fill his pages. One news story proclaims - “Fighting to ensure that our schools have proper funding is one of Nigel's key priorities”.... But Nigel baby, surely that is the business of Scots Lib Demmer, Mike Pringle, who is your constituency MSP! Surely it is him who is doing all the fighting on the education, health, transport and planning front. Nigel, thanks to Labour’s great devolution experiment, you have as much influence as any other constituent of Mr Pringle’s?... Surely the best way for you to try and get extra funding is for you to go to one of Mr Pringle’s surgeries and ask him to do what he can to persuade the Scottish Nationalist government to stump up more Barnett cash?

Hey! Who the hell is that guy shaking hands with Nige Griffiths?

However, the prize for brass neckery goes to this entry on his news page –
‘Nigel has produced a leaflet for every resident on the new free medicines service. Everyone who is entitled to free prescriptions can now obtain free medicines from your local pharmacist. This scheme is designed to encourage people to seek the professional advice of a pharmacist for minor conditions to relieve pressure on our doctors. The scheme applies to all children, expectant mothers, senior citizens, unemployed people and others who are on low income. It covers every condition from sore throats to bunyons (sic). Local pharmacist Fiona McCready helped Nigel prepare the leaflet - she is a key Government advisor on community health matters’.

So that’s nice isn’t it? Nigel’s constituents have got free prescriptions all thanks to the Scottish Nationalist administration – and Nigel produces a leaflet about it! What about the seven quid ten pence that we have to pay down here Nige?

Assessment of Griffiths – Likes the rich and famous. Got a narcissistic complex of galactic proportions..... Has delusions of adequacy.. Is he related to Peter Mandelson or what?

Next week – more revelations from the cybersofa of the well paid idle.... Also, we’ll be offering hints and tips to those MP folk north of the border on how to more convincingly look busy without actually doing anything. We'll also be giving them some important daytime telly schedules and be asking them 'is the Jeremy Kyle Show really all that bad?'....

2 comments:

Anoneumouse said...

Love it :-)

kiki said...

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