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.

Nick


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8 thoughts on “Guest Post: Nick Palmer’s View On Soubry

  1. Kate says:

    Thanks for that Nick. Re/ local casework and correspondence I don’t know how many constitutuents are like me – I just don’t bother to write to Anna Soubry, even on the issue which as you know is closest to me ie grandparent/kinship care. The Family Rights Group repeatedly urges its kinship carers to lobby their MPs but it just feels like a waste of time and energy with her, which is a bad state of affairs. You always responded quickly and fully to any correspondence, and it must be said I was always satisfied with Jim Lester in this respect. I don’t care how satisifed her party might be with her, I hope she gets her desserts from her constituents and we get you back!

  2. Pogue says:

    Talk about not knowing what you’ve got till it has gone. I think we were spoilt when Doctor Nick was our elected MP as on the couple of occasions that I got in touch with him I had a reply within 24 hours. It wasn’t a two line missive but a well thought out response that at times I didn’t agree with but at least respected the fact that he had taken time out to give his reasons and to see it from a different perspective. With Ms Soubry I’ve always thought that she is using Broxtowe as a stepping stone to greater things and thinks of her electorate as nothing more than an irritant that has to be endured rather than embraced.

  3. Alan-a-dale says:

    I get the feeling that she sees some of the mundane day-to-day stuff (that’s our letters and e-mails) as being a bit below her; a bit of an irritation that gets in the way of the grander stuff at Westminster.

    I’m sure she’ll go far in the Government. Perhaps, in view of today’s gaffe, she could replace Ken Clarke at the Ministry of Justice?

  4. Gareth says:

    I emailed Anna to comment on her question in Prime Minister’s Questions today, and received a brief reply within an hour! That’s not bad really, is it?

    Although I did once email Nick and got a well constructed, considered reply thirteen minutes later. The main difference between the two replies was that the essence of Anna’s was “I have noted your comments” whereas Nick’s was “Thanks for the idea, I’ll pass it on”, which just made me feel more involved in the democratic process.

    along with a “Good idea, I’ll pass it on.”

  5. Kate says:

    It probably made her week that someone actually watched her on PMQ Gareth!

    I’m starting to hope she gets more and more exposure on TV, it’ll lose her votes at a rate of knots.

  6. Bob says:

    I wrote a little play – all the characters of of course ficticious:

    Anne Smith MP (AS) receives a phone call whilst browsing for properties in her constituency – it’s No 10 on the phone.

    Derek Camms (DC) ” Anne – would you like to pop in for a drink next time you are passing, let’s say 10:30 on Wednesday” hangs up

    Scene 2 – A room in 10 Downing St present the Prime Minister (DC) and the Lord chief Justice Keith Cherry (KC), enter AS

    DC ” Now tell me Anne how are things in your constituency?”
    AS “Fine I am becoming more popular by the day and write excellent blogs. I have a regular column in the local paper the Wasptown Courier”
    KC That’s not quite how I’ve heard it, I understand your predecessor Mick Hands is still popular and theres a character with a blog causing you issues, also the Brown Hen in the Wasptown Courier seems to have it in for you.”
    AS “Well there have been certain teething problems but my good friend who sorts out all my transport problems got re-elected.”
    KC “by 22 votes……”
    DC “To change the subject – your private member’s bill; very honourable but there are some who say that not allowing the press to name accused people is an infringement on liberty.”
    AS “Who?”
    DC “Some very important, influential and dare I say generous people.”
    KC “I think it will fail and you will become even less popular. Would you be prepared to withdraw it and spend more time in a more senior position, with a higher TV profile (and income)?”
    AS (looks very worried) “That would be helpful but I’d probably have to spend less time in the constituency and I don’t employ Councillors or anyone whose ever voted so I will become less popular.”
    KC “Not to worry my dear, I’m getting on now and may not seek re-election next time. They will be looking for a bright younger person – who is of course 100% aligned to my views and understands.” (winks and touches nose)
    DC “What about it?”
    AS “Yes Prime Minister.”

    Any similarities to anyone is of course totally co-incidental.

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