Seeing so much from Westminster lately I couldn’t help reflecting over my time as a teacher, school leader and director. I have been fortunate to have met many MPs and Councillors.
Mostly local but when labour were in power Graham Allen MP often brought ministers to meet us in Nottingham North. NN is the constituency that historically send the fewest young people to University of all constituencies [Trinity moved from Nottingham North to Nottingham South at a boundary change]. I have always had huge respect for our local MPs – Lilian Greenwood ( whose constituency the school moved into and who always took time to visit her schools) and Alex Norris, sill a school governor and in Nottingham East Nadia Whittome who helped with many projects and programmes and of course my home MP Vernon Coaker although not the present incumbent.
Our own MPs responding very positively to support local heads in the pandemic and taking the trouble to thank them via video or other messages.
Many Conservative education secretaries I’ve met at school conferences (Michael Gove) or through RC heads (Nicky Morgan) or just occasionally a visit to Nottingham (Damian Hinds). Others like Estelle Morris came and spoke at Trinity; Ed Balls listened to our choir when we were invited to sing at the launch of ‘faith in schools’ at the British museum.
Although Nottingham City is a majority Labour I’ve worked with some significant Conservative councillors too including teacher colleagues; some I would count as friends.
So that’s both main parties, local and national, ministers and backbenchers; official business, visits or sometimes campaigning.
To a person they have been polite, thoughtful, and nearly always willing to listen and take time to explain policy or reason. Sometimes I’ve disagreed about their policies including those on education.
The best…. know their ward or constituency very well and keep talking and listening to all their voters (and non voters) whether in power or opposition. They listen to local professionals and many, rather than have a second job are school governors etc , using their time effectively and yes working very hard. They ask good questions and many are extremely good at remembering names and concerns – they are genuinely ‘bothered’ . Of course some have been in power, some have been in opposition
And when in power those who absolutely represent their ward or constituency not just their party are frequently respected and often returned at elections.
Those in opposition willing to recognise helpful policy and to try and nudge and influence on behalf of all of us are respected and yes often returned at elections.
We understand their preference for (and probably their duty for) fulfilling a manifesto but on taking power they change from being single minded party political to thinking and acting for ALL locals. They kind of move on from ‘Party’ to public though with one eye on ‘Party’.
Clearly some never learn and think their job is to run things like they are the only party or people who are right, that they can choose mates and nepotism over sharing fairer representation – diverse views. That they are still campaigning not running government. They ignore public over ‘Party’
Thank you to our local representation when you do ( as you do so often) represent us, thank you for your work on all our behalf, however challenging be it in power or not.
Most of all think of the vulnerable, the disadvantaged, those who struggle who have little power or voice – the neighbour we all should love. And those of you who do – which is a majority on my list – thank you.