Tuesday, April 21, 2009

MPs are not social workers

Via Dizzy, I have found this tremendously amusing video of our Prime Mentalist attempting to be friendly, inviting and manic enthusiastic.

All of the things that he said pissed me off, but one in particualr gets my fucking goat: this one-eyed, Scots bastard said that MPs could make a difference, whether to the entire country (in his case, by bankrupting it)...
... or whether it's voting for a constituent who needs your help...

No. No. No. No and, umpteen times, fucking NO! I had this discussion with Kerry McCarthy some time ago.

Our MPs are the only 646 people who can make laws in this country: they should concentrate on making sure that these laws are appropriate (preferably by voting against them all).

MPs are not fucking social workers; we employ people to do these things—they are called fucking Social Workers. It is not only the waste of time that I object to: it is the principle of the thing...

Everyone should be equal under the law. Does anyone object to this principle? No? Good.

If an MP is "helping" one of their constitutents, then they are, by definition, trying to ensure that said constituent is treated differently from those people whom the MP is not helping.

This. Is. Wrong.

If you are helping a constituent to evade the law, or to bypass the law, or to circumscribe the law, then you are making a mockery of the principle of everyone being equal under the law.

If you think that the law is wrong then—being one of the 646 people who can affect this law—then might I suggest that you change the law?

In the meantime, don't bitch to me about how your job is mainly social work, you cunt: you only make it that so that you don't have to troll through the tedium that is the actual law.

As usual, shut the fuck up and do your job. If you cannot be bothered to do your job—that of legislating—then please step down. Or kill youself.

Either will do.


Ben said...

One of the important things Parliament does is hold the executive to account for how it implements and executes the law.

For example, if somebody is being messed around by a government department, i.e. part of the executive, it is bang in the middle of an MP's job description to ask them a) what is taking so long, and b) to hurry up.

This is the reason MPs are constantly talking to Police (under the police authority but part of the executive and ultimately answerable to Parliament), Schools (under the Local Authority, but again part of the executive) and so on.

Yes, councillors could do some of that but I don't think it does any harm to have extra custodes custodiat-ing. Quite the opposite in my opinion.

So I think you have picked the wrong target there.

Ian B said...

Well isn't the job of MPs to actually be their constituents (en masse) representatives to the king, or something? There was a story in the Telegraph t'other day that the MPs are getting an extra long summer hols, and this is because the government supposedly have run out of legislation to enact, and the article was saying about how that means they're out of ideas and this is a Bad Thing.

Well okay, we know the actual problem is that the EUSSR enacts most of our legislation, and most of the rest is covered by enabling acts as regulations; but even ignoring all that- is the parliament really there to be a legislation mill? Do we really want them just legislating all day every day? Shouldn't laws be rare and carefully considered? Is it wise to tell the fuckers they're there to legislate and get on with it?

Really, we have a total mess of legislature, executive and representatives all confused in the same place- but nonetheless, I'm squeamish about a libertarian saying that MPs' job is to pass laws.

No it isn't. It's to consider them when they arise, and vote on them. But they aren't there to legislate, legislate, legislate as Tony might say. They're more there really to say "Forsooth, why hath the king taxed the good shire of Oxford by one extra oxen this year, and will the minister enquire as to this great burden upon the stout yeomanry?" kind of thing.

Andy said...

You can tell when he's got nothing to write about.

What a poor nonsensical post from a out of fashion blogger.

Ooh ooh! Swear again!! Please - it's clever!

Anonymous said...

I don't agree that approaching one's MP for help is an attempt to circumvent the law. Often constituents find themselves in difficult situations that are the result of bad decisions and wrongly applied policies. An MP's letter (to a benefits office or social services department for example) can have a powerful effect in sorting out the error.
Problems such as these have little or nothing to do with 'the law' as most people consider it, rather they are due to bad bureaucracy. The law underpins the bureaucracy, but the bureaucracy operates on policies - when a policy is unfair, or incorrectly applied then the intervention of an advocate, be that an MP, a lawyer or a 'charity' can be invaluable in resolving the problem. These advocates are in a better position than the individual to see how the policy affects their constituents as a whole.

Jonathan Miller

berenike said...

Ditto what has been said above. Britain is remarkably bureaucracy-free, but there are times when a punter needs someone with more clout to move things, or people, along. Along the lines set out by the law.

Disclaimer: personal beneficiary of such help.

Anonymous said...

I just wish we had an MP that was more than just the Labour Party representative to the High Peak...all he seems to churn out is letters (judging by his spending on postage) regurgitating the party line. A useless tit of an MP.

The MP must be there to point his constituents to the agency that is best suited to resolve that constituent's concern/problem, and intervene when and only when that agency fails to do its duty in assisting said constituent.

And Andy (07:48), if you don't like it here dear, the door is over there. Mind it doesn't hit your botty on the way out.

Roger Thornhill said...

An MP is there to represent their constituents to the central government.

They are not social workers to represent constituents to the local council - that is what Councillors do. If Councillors think something is national, then they bring in the MP.

Kerry is even worse - she spends her energy helping people who are not even her constituents - i.e. people who are NOT her voters.

A typical example of the needy "Love me, oh stranger!".

It is also a form of vanity, a craving. She should not be an MP. All her energy spent elsewhere.

Anonymous said...

Berenike: Britain is remarkably bureaucracy-free.

You think? I suppose you haven't had to apply for a visa with the 20 pages of forms and 50 documents. But before you dismiss foreigners please remember they include the American brain specialist who wants to join his research collaborators here or the New Zealand engineer who can't really get any further at home.

Maybe however you have bought a house? Or trawled through the tax guidance to find out exactly home much tax you owe / are owed?

In some places a small bribe helps to expedite the service. The home office charges £200.

However, I don't think MPs should be helping non-citizens (i.e. asylum seekers) too often. Disclaimer: as an expat in Australia and a recipient of help from my MP there, he's always going to get my vote.

thefrollickingmole said...

That whole cringeworthy Brown video reminds me of an old Viz section about least convincing smiles they used to run.

Was it an overdose of happy pills or advice to "liven up Gordon for fucks sake" from his spin doctors?

Tony Pandy said...

Wonderfully crappy video, I agree, and I love the your blog but you're wrong on this one. MPs are our constituency representatives and MPs from all parties have always represented the interests of individual constituents (whatever their political allegiance) to the executive, whether nationally or in local government. It's one of the great strengths of the British system and superior to the various systems of PR in which no-one knows or cares who their local MP is. A letter from the local MP works wonders in waking up the venal cretins in local councils, and even govt ministers are obliged by law to repond to questions or letters raised by an MP on behalf of a constituent. A couple of hundred letters to MPs are a much more effective way of changing things than a million-signature petition (for example).

James Higham said...

If an MP is "helping" one of their constitutents, then they are, by definition, trying to ensure that said constituent is treated differently from those people whom the MP is not helping.

Eh? So an MP should not hear his constituents?

Anonymous said...

If an MP is "helping" one of their constitutents, then they are, by definition, trying to ensure that said constituent is treated differently from those people whom the MP is not helping.

Aren't they just trying to ensure that said constituent is being treated THE SAME as those people who don't need the MP's help?

woman on a raft said...

One of the few useful aspects of an MP's job is that they can on occassion be of great help to a constituent who is fighting another arm of the state precisely because they have independent standing. They don't usually intervene, but a letter from the MP saying "my constituent wants and deserves an answer from you" can work wonders, or at least put a dose of salts in to the fobbing-off section of other organizations.

They can, and do, advise on how to go about making a point when a lawyer would not be able to say without charging you for political research.

However, if MPs are becoming over burdened with social work its shows that something is going hideously wrong with the rest of the civil system and them dabbling about on the edges isn't going to fix it.

penfold said...

yeah... no MPs help for us.

Seriously this has to be one of the dumbest posts I have ever read. MPs only being able to help constituents through legislation? Kafka would be proud.

Incidentally your take on 'everyone is equal before the law' is hoplessly naieve. Anyway it is not up to the executive or legislative to enforce that. For an MP not to help on this principle would be a massive encroachment into the judiciary's job breaching any meaningful separation of powers.

Anonymous said...

One of the greatest problems for MP's with the constituents is that Local Authorities and the Civil Service bureacuracies are so all powerful & out of control that often an appeal to an MP for help - and a letter from him - can be the only available breaker of the stalemate, in such areas as a welfare claim or a planning application.

Return Local Government to the handsa ofthe voters, give them proper tax raisingh and accountability powers reduce the amount of actual work that government at all levels does, back to say - 1900 - and pouf!! - much of this crap would grind to a halt.

Diogenes said...


David Starkey just made exactly your point in almost exactly your words on Question Time.

I wonder if he lurks.

Hugo said...


Anonymous said...

Roy M said...

In his (her?) defence, they are the ONLY people who can make a law but they are not the only people

who can hold the executive to account, ensure equality under the law and all that stuff.

If MPs let the holding to account role go a bit then there are** other institutions that can take up the slack. If they don't make sure that the right laws get through then we are stuffed.

**This might not be true

Anonymous said...

MPs are shot in the face with air rifles

NHS Fail Wail

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