The person not the party.

Feb 12, 2015 by

We should look to the person not the party when the dust has settled and the real work on the historic child abuse inquiry starts. We should remember those who campaigned for years to achieve this level of commitment to safeguard children and investigate institutional criminality. There are many in the roll call but I think that , as we run up to the general election, it’s a good idea to consider the MPs who went much further than just mouthing platitudes. In fact, as we decide who to vote for, wouldn’t it be a good idea, for once, to abandon party labels and scrutinise what they’ve done for the people. I don’t just mean how assiduous a constituency MP they were in holding the requisite number of surgeries. I don’t mean how often they tried to ask a question in the children’s playground of Prime Minister’s questions. I want to know what they actually achieved to make the country a better place, stemming from heartfelt conviction and genuine commitment to improve people’s lives.

Child protection is what I’ve been engaged with all my working life and you get to know those who are involved and those who are committed. I’ve met and listened to many MPs over the years on the subject and , although none would dismiss the topic, for a lot of them you could tell it was just another in a long list of subjects they had to juggle. For some, though ,I could immediately tell the depth of their commitment.

That’s why , for me, because of party labels at the election, we’re likely to lose voices that are constant and powerful in defence of children and tenacious in challenging abusers.

A case in point is Tessa Munt the MP for Wells in Somerset. I had the privilege of interviewing her on my Podcast recently and during the course of it she talked of her own abuse during her childhood. She has been tireless in pushing for the historic inquiry and was one of the seven MPs who lobbied the Government and galvanised the campaign. She’s never stopped in her efforts and has met Teresa May on several occasions to maintain her commitment. Couple this with her dedication to all matters in relation to protecting children, social care and survivors in the community and we begin to see the individual as well as the party. Quite apart from the fact that, in opposition to the Lib Dem position on fracking , she followed her conscience and not the party line and resigned as Vince Cable’s PPS, demonstrating again that, contrary to many, you can have principles in politics.

With the general election looming it’s such a shame that people like Tessa Munt will be judged as a Liberal Democrat only on the ballot paper by a vast majority of voters instead of an individual who’s been a real champion of children and families. Other names that spring to mind are Sarah Champion, the Labour MP for Rotherham who constantly put the children of Rotherham before the local Labour administration in her efforts to bring light to that corporate neglect and Simon Danczuk the MP for Rochdale who has been pivotal in lobbying for children’s rights and an inquiry into historic abuse.

We’ll never get rid of party political block loyalty among the electorate but if we could have some momentum generated   towards “ forget the label, look inside the tin” and look to the person not the party when we judge MPs then the country would be a little better off and Wells, Rotherham and Rochdale would continue to be represented by capable, principled people.

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