Why should celebrity self-promotion be acceptable for an MP?


by Cllr Leonie Cooper    
10:31 am - November 10th 2012

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The Tories made strenuous efforts in the lead up to the 2010 election in terms of selecting a more diverse set of candidates, to leaven the mix of Old Etonians a bit.

However, their vetting procedures seem to have been left at the door to a large extent.

I’m sure most people, not just Tories, were pretty underwhelmed by Louise Mensch’s decision to stand down as the MP for Corby & East Northants – and pretty dubious about her alleged reasons too.

After all, she did seem to manage to find time for setting up Menschn (or whatever it’s called) as a rival for Twitter, and managed to fit in plenty of other activities to maximise her own self-publicity. The poor residents of Corby and East Northants never really got much of a look-in – but it’s pretty bad form not to at least serve out her term.

However, in the light of Nadine Dorries latest behaviour, Mensch seems like a paragon of virtue. Another raging self-publicist, best known for her anti-abortionist stance and lack of friendship with the Prime Minister, she now seems to have gone AWOL.

Her constituency chairman said she had not discussed it with him, and she can’t possibly have got permission from the Chief Whip to spend any time locked up in the jungle circus that is “I’m a Celebrity, get me out of here” as the whip has now been suspended. To most people, she isn’t a celebrity, but she clearly hopes to come back as one – so just like Mensch, it’s all about self-publicity.

Meanwhile, she is being paid to be an MP. Most people would anticipate that this would include attendance at the House of Commons, speaking in debates, undertaking work via Select Committees – a serious and detailed approach to legislation and the issues of the day. Or it might mean being in your constituency, running surgeries, listening to your constituents, taking up their issues, opening or speaking at events – the list is pretty endless.

As well as the whip being withdrawn, IPSA must insist that as she is not available to conduct any of her normal duties she is not paid either. Why should we pay for her to take absence to undertake pure self-promotion?

It’s time to make clear to our politicians that not only do we not want their hands in the till (so good riddance to Denis MacShane) but we also want them to behave with a bit of dignity and gravitas while they are serving as elected politicians, and to be available to do their jobs.

What they do afterwards is their own business, but while we’re paying them, it’s certainly ours.

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About the author
Leonie Cooper is a Labour Councillor, and co-chair of Labour SERA.
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Reader comments


Not particularly a fan of either of them, but you can’t get either on Paliamentary Attendance or representing their constituents.

Neither is in the top 100 of MP non-voters.

>As well as the whip being withdrawn, IPSA must insist that as she is not available to conduct any of her normal duties she is not paid either. Why should we pay for her to take absence to undertake pure self-promotion?

That is a far more interesting question, but would need to be asked of dozens of MPs, perhaps starting with the likes of Mr Galloway, Mr Godsiff and Mr Gordon, who seem to be at the top of non-attenders without obviously good reasons.

If an MP’s constituency party want to select them as a candidate and the voters elect them then I don’t see why another agency should have the power to overturn their choice. Perhaps the power of constituents to recall errant MPs should be considered. Apart from established party discipline I’d be concerned if this silly case was used as a precedent to overturn the progress we’ve made since that malarkey with Wilkes vs the Establishment.

Screw this. We need to focus on defending the BBC.

@Matt Wardman: I’m not the biggest fan of Mr. Galloway, but I’m sure he would say that as he represents a party of only one MP, he’s not going to make any difference to the outcome of most votes; however, he can use his profile as an MP to further causes he believes in and the interests of his constituents outside Parliament, only turning up to Parliament for key debates and key votes.

That’s a credible argument, and one that I have no problem with when employed by either independent MPs or ones in small parties, whatever their political stripe.

If Galloway dorsn’t turn up he deprives his party of 100% of its votes.

To be honest, I’m in two minds about that.

6. Dick the Prick

Gordon Brown’s taken 28 months off and no-one seems to give a toss.

7. Chaise Guevara

I wonder whether the reaction would have been the same if she wasn’t going on a lowbrow* show with “celebrity” right there in the title. Would they have reacted this way if she went off for a couple of months to present a history documentary for Channel 4?

*I gather that the formula is “freak show + schadenfreude + tits”.


Reactions: Twitter, blogs
  1. Alan Thomas

    Right on – Why should celebrity self-promotion be acceptable for an MP? | Liberal Conspiracy http://t.co/2m9EFxif via @libcon

  2. Jason Brickley

    Why should celebrity self-promotion be acceptable for an MP? http://t.co/yQRrPZuJ

  3. leftlinks

    Liberal Conspiracy – Why should celebrity self-promotion be acceptable for an MP? http://t.co/M3mRKEFF

  4. LeonieC

    Why should celebrity self-promotion be acceptable for an MP? | Liberal Conspiracy http://t.co/S26orOvv via @libcon





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