Friday 2 June 2023

Being a backbench MP - how boring is that?

Well obviously not at all, for a busy man of letters like Mr Quango.  But for many ...

Today it is reported that a long-serving Labour MP, one Geraint Davies, has been suspended for some kind of alleged hanky-panky, of the unwanted sexual type.  (Didn't they used to say that was the Tories; and that the typical failing of Labourites was being on the take?)  I have absolutely no idea whatever on the merits of said allegations, which he "doesn't recognise".  But I do know Davies, a classic Leftie-Welshman product of Jesus College, Oxford with a curious resemblance to Mark Williams of Welsh snooker fame.

He was a councillor on Croydon Council, then Leader of the Council, then MP for Croydon Central which has for 60 years been a genuine flip-flop marginal constituency.  After duly losing the seat when it came time for yet another flip, he headed off for a safe parliamentary berth in South Wales, his native territory, which is what he always wanted.  It didn't do him much good: seemingly, he never looked like ministerial material to successive Labour leaderships.  Of late I only really noticed him when he (like many others of worthy intentions in S.Wales) fell for the dreadful Swansea Bay Tidal Lagoon scam scheme and gamely tried to promote it.  He, like others who got behind it - some with their life-savings - hoped it would have been a boon for the local economy (and 'green', to boot!).  The desperation in their hope was palpable, and mercilessly played upon by greedy promoters.

Anyhow: I never had Davies marked down for my rogues gallery.  He did a couple of silly things when first elected to the Council (e.g., he took in a "homeless family" to his own flat.  That little social experiment didn't last long) - but he was clearly a cut above the average Labour councillor in intellect (not difficult); a dedicated & capable political organiser; and had an amusing line in ironic throwaway socialist doctrine, mostly to prove he'd read PPE.  He was also a successful small-businessman - an interesting combination.  All in all, it looked just like a classic, purposeful political career: not objectionably careerist, but earning his stripes systematically and always with an eye to the Next Thing.  A safe seat in S.Wales after 25 years of working for it, seemed fair enough.  But only the back benches for him.  Not even, so far as I know, a PPS.

Which all leads me to think about boredom.  Decades of being just lobby fodder.  The endless round of more-or-less hopeless constituency work.  The need to support almost anything that moves in the constituency, however obviously lame.  They all enter Westminster with a Prime Minister's baton in their knapsack, but ... 

... after all that effort: all that expenditure of talent & brainpower & ambition & everything else it takes.  Oh dear.



Matt said...

An argument (from MPs) goes "We must pay MPs the same sort of salary as exec types in the private sector to attract the best talent".

Unsure whether this supports or demolishes that argument. Probably the latter...

dearieme said...

"with a Prime Minister's baton in their knapsack": is that a cruel allusion to Toni Blair's love of starting wars (and of Call- me-Dave's desire to attack Syria)?

Anonymous said...

I suppose there's always the idea that he entered politics to do good for (and to) his fellow man, or is that altogether too ridiculous an idea?

(Swansea Council in their various incarnations have been a by-word for corruption in South Wales since at least the 1960s. There's something about continuous one-party administration...)

Just a thought - who do the great and good of C@W think is winning between Russia and UkraTO? Because the average commenter at both Guardian and Mail

a) think Ukraine are winning, and seem to honestly believe that Vlad has been deliberately targeting civilians, kidnapping children etc - none of which three are true.

b) seem to have no inkling of the wider context, so well laid out in Brzezinski's 1997 The Grand Chessboard, and seem to think China are too dependent on US trade to be anything other than neutral, when in reality they are solidly behind Russia, because if Russia lose they are next. Naturally China want to ride two horses as long as they possibly can, while US/UK/EU continue down the tubes* and China gets ever more impressive - but if it looked like a Russian defeat** I think they'd pull the stops out Lend-Lease style.


** I'm a bit twitchy bout the upcoming NATO exercises close to the Russian borders and whether there's some brilliant plan like seizing Transnistria involved.

If you were leading a large nuclear-armed country, and your defence radars picked up several hundred missiles headed for your frontiers, would the right thing to do be to wait for a few to land, and see what the warheads are, or immediately to launch a full nuclear response?

jim said...

As far as I can tell my local MP is completely invisible. I understand he/she does some charity work and has some kind of interface with an African country - neither of any use to the constituency. I also hear he/she has gone into a spot of property development - not in the constituency. I suspect he/she is hoping to get a gong and kicked upstairs at some point.

As far as the constituency is concerned he/she speaks against more housing in the approved manner (out one side of the mouth) and is plainly very well behaved in Parliament. But when it comes to money being spent here (as opposed to where he/she lives 50 miles away) there is nothing to be seen - although I did hear some charity money was found for a school somewhere in the county a year or two back.

I suspect this person like many MPs is engaged in busy-work just so long as it does not involve spending money. Not a very nourishing career for normal people. Pay more for the same doing nothing? you must be joking. The system is designed to make sure they keep the peasants calm and spend as little as possible.

Ho Ho Ho Chi Minh said...

If you were leading a large nuclear-armed country, and your defence radars picked up several hundred missiles headed for your frontiers, ……or….launch a full nuclear response?


30 drones can fly from Ukraine border to Moscow, undetected, and unattacked.
Unlikely the nuclear missiles are any better prepared for actual combat than the the SAM batteries.

BTW, 8 hour launch preparation for Soviet nuclear missiles. Providing they are already at Defcon 2 and awaiting command to move to 1.
The dangerous, ready to go quickly missiles, as in NATO, are at sea in the submarines.
Or in the Russian’s case, some are at sea. Only sometimes.

Nick Drew said...

@ I'm a bit twitchy bout the upcoming NATO exercises close to the Russian borders

OK, well let's help you calm down. In case you didn't notice, last week there was a big NATO exercise on Russia's northern borders (Norway / Sweden** / Finland). Everybody joined in, even Canada and Germany. It wasn't the first this year (there was a previous one down Romania way). Don't remember Putin blowing a fuse. Don't remember anybody talking about them at all, in fact. So there we go.

Objectively, NATO has been salami-slicing Putin ever since this thing began. He first 'mentioned' going nuclear within weeks of the off. Ever since, all the boundaries have been relentlessly pushed, month by month, HIMARS by HIMARS, Leopard by Leopard, Storm Shadow by Storm Shadow. Somehow, he's gulped it all down ...

Personally I think there's a bit more of a Red Line around Crimea. But that might get tested, too: and more than just the Kerch bridge.

**Actually, I say NATO but Sweden isn't a member yet. Not sure it makes much difference

Wildgoose said...

> Objectively, NATO has been salami-slicing Putin ever since this thing began.

> Ever since, all the boundaries have been relentlessly pushed, month by month

> Personally I think there's a bit more of a Red Line around Crimea. But that might get tested, too

So, you admit that NATO are deliberately "poking the bear" despite all the repeated warnings of what the eventual consequences of that will be.

Caeser Hēméra said...

I've not had need to contact my current MP, however the one where I used to live opted not to even give a courtesy responses to a letter about IR35.

They wouldn't have had my vote anyway, but I like to see the veneer of giving a crap, no matter how fake that veneer is.

With Brexit I still hold out hope we'll start seeing some beasts about again, the last couple of decades have been extremely managerial, with Ministers looking like they're defending something out of a glossy brochure with some small print. May as well have been selling kitchens at Wickes as running a nation.

A lot of Tories heading to the exits may offer opportunities during the upcoming beige reign of Starmer, at least I hope so.

Bill Quango MP said...

Quentin Letts in patronising bastards listed a breakdown of MPs previous jobs. Then and now.

He says working class MPs ( former manual labour) fell from 98 in 1979 to 19 in 2015
Lawyers,, doctors, civil servants fell a smidge.
Teachers up by 10 in 1997, but mostly all voted out by 2010.

The big increases were businesspeople ( including accountants and PR.) representing 22.3% in 1979 to 30.7% in 2017.
Biggest of all, PR. Charity execs. Union officials, 1.5% up to 11.5%

spin doctors, lobbyists, political Spads and apparatchiks up from 3.4% to 17.1%

The House of Lords even worse.
A whole chapter written on all the MPs who were booted out by voters in elections only to magically reappear in the Lords.

Letts, in his acidic and waspish style, blames Cameron. Even more than the ‘peerages for definitely not cash’ ..I said ‘NOT for cash!’ Blair era.

Caeser Hēméra said...

@BQ - Letts should have noted Cameron just spread the rot, like a nipper discovering they can redecorate walls with the contents of their potty.

Blair's sofa politics, and undermining of the likes of the NAO, along with the making the press compliant teed up Call Me Dave's more managerial outlook.

If only Cameron's Beavis and Osborne's Butthead had been as capable as they were arrogant.

Caeser Hēméra said...

On to Ukraine... The blowing up of the dam either seems to indicate Putin expected to lose Crimea, or that call has been made for him by someone, as I believe that pretty much puts the kybosh on much of its water supply.

Ukraine would doubtlessly have stopped the water again, just in a less explosive fashion.

Elby the Beserk said...

Fergeddabahtit. RIP UK. We're done. Conservatives who have magnificently set about dismantling everything they are meant to conserve now no different to the other three parties, or "Uniparty" as they are now known. Cons have utterly trashed the economy, attacked their voters as if we were parasites (ha!), and are completely unable not to break any manifesto promises.

Turn away. Don't vote it really is a total waste of time now; look to St. Benedict who knew what worked when everything around you is collapsing.


Work there to make us stronger against the storms heading our way. We ain't see nothing yet.

Elby the Beserk said...


- a huge chunk of the young actively seek more and more government control over their lives.

Good luck with that... it's always worked so well in the past eh?

FUBAR doesn't even get near the mess we are in.

Diogenese said...


You get what you pay for.

While the (tax) demographics were full of baby-boomers everything could be paid for. When the demographics move against you, the state will either have to cut spending or increase tax.

The younger aged want protection from the ravenous demands of the older population for everything (health care, social care, inflation proofed pensions) at no cost.

Tide is turning.

Elby the Beserk said...

"The younger aged want protection from the ravenous demands of the older population for everything (health care, social care, inflation proofed pensions) at no cost."

Worst state pensions of all the modern European countries.

Highest tax level since WWII

The REAL problem is the exponentially increasing amount we are having to pay for public sector pensions often paid to employees who could easily fund their own pensions. Yet those who can't afford to save for their own have no choice but to subsidise those who can.

Back in the day, public sector work meant a low salary with a good pension. Now it means for many, a REALLY good salary and a REALLY good pension

(of course, "uk govt" means you and I)

"According to figures from the Office for National Statistics, published yesterday (February 8), the government’s pension liabilities had surged by 22 per cent between 2015 and 2018, to £6.4tn.

State pension liabilities amounted to £4.8tn, or 224 per cent of gross domestic product.

Unfunded public sector defined benefit scheme liabilities stood at £1.2tn, or 55 per cent of GDP, while funded public sector DB schemes amounted to a more modest £413bn, or 19 per cent of GDP."

It's not the boomers that's the problem. It's the ever expanding public sector and ever expanding government, devouring everything the private sector creates.

Big Government in hand with HUGE Public sector in hand with MegaCorp.

A recipe for destroying the productive part of society.

On the matter of boomers v Gen Z (and millennials) this is a very good read.

Interviewer and Crawford agree with me.

We're ****ed.