MPS have to be accountable
School begins next week and, for many families, September means back to business as usual. For me it’s back to Westminster after a summer setting up my constituency office in Canterbury, employing staff and taking on a huge range of cases on behalf of constituents.
Last weekend, however, I did allow myself a brief break in Derbyshire; I went camping with friends from the first group “graduating” from the Jo Cox Women in Leadership Programme.
This was a training scheme that I was lucky enough to get on to, long before I became an MP. It was set up in memory of the late Jo Cox, the Labour MP for Batley and Spen, who was so tragically murdered before last year’s EU referendum.
She was a proud feminist and, like me, wanted to champion more women into taking positions of influence and leadership in politics, business, charities and the public sector.
The weekend wasn’t all toasting marshmallows and singsongs around campfires. We talked late into the night about our accountability as politicians, leaders and leaders-to-be.
Accountability is the cornerstone of modern politics; people must know what their public representatives are up to. Only by being totally open can inaction, laziness and entitlement be exposed.
That’s why – within 24 hours of attending – I’m putting every event I’ve been to together with a small report on my website.
You will also see questions I ask and speeches I make in Parliament online. I will be sending out an e-newsletter once a month to subscribers and you can follow me on Twitter (@Rosieduffield1 – nearly 6,000 followers and counting).
My surgeries alternate weekly between Canterbury, Whitstable and a revolving selection of villages (details on my website).
I want to be a “local” MP and, whoever you voted for, I want everyone in this constituency to understand and believe that I will work my hardest to resolve their problems and, where I see there has been an injustice, to use my position to act on their behalf.
Starting in my team this month will be two parttime caseworkers. They will contact agencies to progress constituents’ issues on my behalf. I also have two parttime employees in Parliament with me and a full-time assistant in the constituency office. I want you to know this, so that nothing is hidden, or seems cloaked in mystery. My team works hard: already in the 12 weeks since I was elected we’ve opened 262 cases and sent out thousands of emails and hundreds of letters.
Waking under canvas in Derbyshire on Monday, it seemed a long way away from the turrets of Westminster that I’ll be back to next week.
My friends and I packed up our tents, said our goodbyes and as I sat on the train home, I remembered Jo Cox’s memorable words about unity and friendship. “We have far more in common than that which divides us.”
Those words mean a lot to me, not only because of the strong bonds I have made with the women from the Jo Cox Programme, but also because that’s how I feel about my constituency.
Whatever your politics, wherever you live and whatever walk of life you are from, I’m here to represent you and I’m going to work very, very hard to do so. Website: www.rosieduffieldmp. co.uk Constituency office: 01227 467888
Letters - pages 18 & 19