Guest Post: Nick Palmer’s View On Soubry

I recently asked YOU for your opinions on Soubry’s first year as our MP, and cheers for your responses so far. Anna’s predecessor, Dr Palmer, sent me this and I thought I’d post it straight up: if other politicians from the 2010 election wish to send their review of the first year, please send it in. As always, I will publish complete and unedited: over to Nick:

A fair assessment won’t be expected from me, but I’ll try, though I won’t comment on any aspect of personality.

AS is using her legal experience very well in the Commons – her contributions on legal subjects are thoughtful, interesting and by no means always predictable. She seems to contribute more on these themes than anything else (I also get TheyWorkForYou updates from the MP where I’m currently staying down south, and he ranges much more widely), and that may be a good thing: advice for new MPs (which I ignored) is to specialise and get noticed in a particular field.

Her voting record is entirely loyalist – she used to criticise me for being too loyal and said that by contrast she would be the independent-minded “Broxtowe’s voice in Parliament”, but where I rebelled 30 times she has yet to trouble the whips once. I’d think that’s linked to a reasonable expectation of promotion if she continues to toe the line. She makes life simpler by refusing to sign early day motions on any subject, with the thin excuse that the system for administering them is expensive (it doesn’t get cheaper because she’s not using it): this leaves her free of commitments that might embarrass her later.

Her constituency operation is pretty hit and miss. She doesn’t seem to read her post when it comes in (hence the glitch when she said she’d had no letters from staff opposing postal privatisation) and response times to enquiries vary from almost instant to never. She attends events dutifully, but without obvious enthusiasm. My opinion remains that she’d be a real asset to Westminster if she was a Lords front-bencher on legal issues, giving her the chance to contribute her expertise without the local casework and correspondence that I don’t think she really enjoys. In her current role, though, she’s a solid Conservative MP with some interesting life experience, and I’d be surprised if her party wasn’t quite happy with her.