Progress | Centre-left Labour politics

When we are out of step with public opinion we must change

At business questions this week I raised the latest set of quarterly migration figures that were released today. It is clear that David Cameron’s pledge to reduce net migration to the tens of thousands is now in tatters. Instead of reducing net migration it is now higher than it was at the start of this government and illegal immigration and exploitation are getting worse.

This week we also learnt that the number of people on zero-hours contracts has soared. But in parliament we have had the sorry sight of a Conservative party defending the right of their members of parliament to earn millions of pounds on the side. Yesterday we proposed a sensible solution to the widening gap between the rules that MPs have in place and the standards the public expect of us. In a democracy when we are out of step with public opinion we must change. But it seems that the Conservatives are stuck defending the discredited status quo.

At prime minister’s questions, David Cameron boasted of how successfully he combines his job as prime minister with being the member of parliament for West Oxfordshire. That must be easy because the constituency of West Oxfordshire does not even exist.

Last week Tory MP David Burrowes knocked on the door of a local resident claiming he was their MP. He was greeted by the wife of Andy Love – the MP for Edmonton – who pointed out that he was in fact canvassing the wrong constituency. I don’t know about second jobs, perhaps they should pay a bit more attention to their first one.

It is of course possible that they both just had a ‘mind blank’, like the leader of the Green party who was involved in an eco-friendly car crash at the LBC studios on Tuesday. I gather that following her interview the Green party have now joined the Conservative party in campaigning to be excluded from the leaders’ debates.

While some Tory MPs do not seem to know quite where their constituencies are, David Tredinnick appears to have left his for another planet entirely. He has been formulating the new Conservative health policy. Not content with wasting £3bn on a top down reorganisation of the NHS, he told a journal this week that the way to take the huge pressure off doctors is ‘astrology’. He claimed it is a ‘useful diagnostic tool enabling us to see strengths and weaknesses via the birth chart’.

It is unclear if he thinks the chancellor would have met his deficit reduction targets if only he had not broken that mirror.

One person losing his constituency by choice is leader of the House of Commons, William Hague. Asked at the weekend why he was leaving parliament he replied ‘I’ve been foreign secretary but I’m determined not to be prime minister.’ That does go some way to explaining his time as leader of the opposition.

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Angela Eagle is member of parliament for Wallasey, shadow leader of the House of Commons and writes the weekly Business of Parliament column for Progress. She tweets @AngelaEagle

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Photo: UK Parliament

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Angela Eagle MP

is MP for Wallasey

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