Socialisation of new members

Lord Norton

At the Study of Parliament Group conference at the weekend, one of the panels was on the process of socialisation for parliamentarians.  The emphasis was on new MPs and how the process has changed over recent years, with a far more extensive process of induction.   It used to be the case that, once elected, MPs were simply expected to arrive at Westminster (some never having set foot in the Palace before) and find out for themselves what they were expected to do.   They relied on some senior Members and the whips. 

It struck that there were some notable differences between the two chambers.  One is the fairly simple fact that peers, unlike MPs, have to share offices.  As with the Commons, there is an induction process organised by the House authorities, but in terms of day-to-day queries a peer can simply ask the other peer or peers in the office.  This is quite a powerful means of socialisation and ensures one learns the ropes fairly quickly.  It covers the sort of questions not usually covered in an induction process.  It not only helps integrate a peer into the norms and practices of the House, it can also generate a particular ethos within the room.  In my room, we have a very distinct office culture.  It allows us not only to enjoy some degree of autonomy, it can be very valuable in sharing knowledge and finding out what is going within the Palace.  It also means one has a sounding board for ideas and querying a particular policy.   The sharing of offices means we work in very cramped conditions, but it does have its benefits.

16 comments for “Socialisation of new members

  1. MilesJSD
    09/01/2012 at 9:44 pm

    So since you have to work in cramped conditions, yet have duties to maintain your-selves both fit-for-work and completely au fait with How the larger & lowest-income recipient Public may maintain their-selves healthy, citizenlike, & environmentally-supportive, and thereby to be kept up-to-date as to what finest detail thereto will be neccssary in the Legislation it is your duty to choose right and to choose for the right reason,

    what Holistic Health Maintenance and Longterm-Sustainworthy-Wellbeing Support Centre is there within easy walking and wheelchair distance of those ‘crowded mills’ you are lengthily cramped within ?

    • Lord Norton
      Lord Norton
      10/01/2012 at 3:20 pm

      milesjsd: Everyone in the office looks very fit. There is a parliamentary gym, though I suspect getting about the Palace – 2-3 miles of corridors and over 200 staircases – ensures we get plenty of exercise, especially if we are in Portcullis House and there is a division in the Lords!

  2. MilesJSD
    09/01/2012 at 10:17 pm

    The Public is not “apathetic” simply because its majority does not write-in-correctly-and-within-deadlines-to-the-correct-office-addresss(es) whenever a public-submissions ‘window’ is briefly opened.

    The “apathy”, and one has to say, much worsely the malfeasance and bad-democratic-governance, stems from the very top, where alone are kept securely-locked away the abilities, willingnesses, powers, expertises, and resources, necessary to both enable and empower The People (Public) to participate as Lord Norton rightly, but perhaps somewhat ‘naively’, expects.
    ————-

    (Recommended brush-up or study-books:
    Edward de Bono’s “Thinking Course” and “How To Become A Creative Thinker”).

    • MilesJSD
      12/01/2012 at 8:20 am

      This above piece should have been clicked under Lord Norton’s ‘apathy stirring’, below; sorry.

      Perhaps further help might come from adding to its recommended ‘list’
      “Fallacies and Argument Appraisal” (Tindale);

      The Three Principles of Good Communication & Honest Argumentation (and in criticism of Others’ communication and argumentation)
      1. Be clear 2. Be charitable 3. Be self-corrigible.

      Friendly Method III of Needs & Hows Recognition and Win-Win-Win-Win-Win-Win-Win Cooperative Problem Solving thereto (Gordon: but print out an A4 page five-step working guideline from non-profit citizens’ democratic website http://www.lifefresh.co.uk ).

      Of course, parliamentarians including the Nation’s very best experts namely throughout the House of Lords, come with many gaps and perhaps with one or two serious weaknesses in their all-round knowledge and know-how, of our Human Needs & Hows, and perhaps of those of the Earth and/or the ‘Universe’,

      so quite a long list of as-it-were ‘secondarily-essential’ knowledge and know-how should be introduced to each new member, and vice versa, don’t you think ?

      • Lord Norton
        Lord Norton
        17/01/2012 at 10:42 am

        milesjsd: “1. Be clear 2. Be charitable 3. Be self-corrigible.”

        I do my best.

  3. Gareth Howell
    10/01/2012 at 7:49 am

    The 1997 general election was the turning point since there was such a vast number of new members, and women as well, some of whom, had never attended a public debate of any sort before or held any kind of public office.

    They held classes in the summer vacation, on how to be an MP.

    The disillusioned ones (who did not know it had anything to do with arguing, Labour as well) attended once a month for the next four years and earned about £1500 per visit, on a par with, or rather better than, a consultation fee for a professional man, with many years of experience in, say quantity surveying.

    The skill of getting elected!(usually perpetrated by their husbands!)

  4. 10/01/2012 at 8:10 am

    I have to amend that; it was FOUR TIMES AS MUCH! more than £5000 per visit

    The 1997 general election was the turning point since there was such a vast number of new members, and women as well, some of whom, had never attended a public debate of any sort before or held any kind of public office.

    They held classes in the summer vacation, on how to be an MP.

    The disillusioned ones (who did not know it had anything to do with arguing, Labour as well) attended once a month for the next four years and earned about £5000 per visit, four times better than, a consultation fee for a professional man, with many years of experience in, say quantity surveying.

    The skill of getting elected!(usually perpetrated by their husbands!) It’s never seemed difficult to me.

    • maude elwes
      10/01/2012 at 1:56 pm

      We have far worse than that now, Gareth. We have adopted the US pick and spend method on who has been selected for political idealism to groom them for office.

      One person is chosen to represent the politics of the day, on how they will come across and fit the party line. They are then schooled in vocabulary, doctrine, dress, voice and so on. A bit as they did with, Mrs Thatcher, she being a woman who had to learn to ‘con’ the public into voting for her with anything like a majority. As without this training, they felt she didn’t have a chance of being elected to run the country.

      The joke is, of course, people are no longer fooled. What they offer looks and sounds like a set up, they come out of whatever educational unit they had been pushed through, with no experience of life or real employment, and they are quite obviously fake. A set up. Naive and delusional in what they believe they have to offer.

      And how they get away with it is, low voter turn out. When only 29% of the nation turns out on polling day, then you know it is the few who have a vested interest that is setting the pace for ‘their’ will to be followed by those they have chosen for us.

  5. Lord Blagger
    10/01/2012 at 4:09 pm

    And how they get away with it is, low voter turn out. When only 29% of the nation turns out on polling day, then you know it is the few who have a vested interest that is setting the pace for ‘their’ will to be followed by those they have chosen for us.

    =========

    It’s far worse. They don’t get to choose the candidate.

    That’s reserved for head office.

    • maude elwes
      10/01/2012 at 5:15 pm

      @LB:

      And why is that ‘allowed’ and how can it be changed or stopped? Because if we are to have any semblance of democracy, then this lark has to end and fast. Otherwise we end up with a US style flat boy who is swung around by his tail.

      Politicians must represent the public. Not teenage stooges primed for office by whoever it is makes the selection, but, true men of the world. Experienced individuals who understand the people of this country and represent them honestly. And have a basis for believing they can do this in their country’s best interests. Even have a vision perhaps. Now that would make a change wouldn’t it? A true leader of quality.

      PS: Hope you had a nice lie in over the holiday.

      • Lord Blagger
        10/01/2012 at 11:36 pm

        Working and dealing with a 2 year old with projectile vomiting.

        I’ll propose an alternative. Why not have everyone representing themselves?

        A return to Athenian democracy.

        • Gareth Howell
          11/01/2012 at 5:42 pm

          I guess the return to roman or Athenian democracy is when demonstrators assemble in the Strand or wherever they do assemble, and march on parliament square.

          They are all representing themselves, as for the anti-war demo of 2002/2003.

          There were estimates of numbers at the time but nobody took a bit of notice, referring of course to all those who were sitting at home in their armchairs watching.

          NO demo!? No vote!

          My opinion of the way our senate should go, is unchanging. That having no real authority except to sway opinion, peers should be better employed sitting at home at their desks with a video-conferencing system much like the NHS commissioning going on at the moment.

          Unfortunately ,senile as most of them are, they are not gizmo/gadget/computer savvy and it ill notbe until the present young generation gest to old age, when they will be able even to understand what a video conference is, or the possibilities of remote
          decision making for ALL House of lords deliberations.

          Then the number of peers would not matter at all. There might be 100 or 2000; they could still participate online in electronic chambers to their hearts’ content, and not be a material burden to anybody. The quality of the deliberations would also be much better for their not being motivated by their own pockets, and greed, as they are today.

          There are things about parliamentary democracy (ie the House of commons) which will always require presence and a certain amount of confrontation, in person.

  6. Gareth Howell
    10/01/2012 at 6:46 pm

    They are then schooled in vocabulary, doctrine, dress, voice and so on.

    This is what I tried to get across at a recent Meeting with Sir Alan Beith hon member for Berwick(?), and Liaison committee chairman for some time.

    Maude has succeeded where I failed to ask, knowing, what is expected of them!!

    The PM answer to the LCom three times a year at the end of term. the above is always the same!!! How do they do it?

    • maude elwes
      11/01/2012 at 2:51 pm

      @Gareth:

      They do it because they get away with it. And they get away with it because we (collectively) let them.

      They need to be thrown out of office on their ear, without the remotest reprieve for the idiotic ‘sorry’ crap we get now. Sorry? What a crock that is. And now there is an answer to the problem of letting the people know what is going on and why they must take action and vote. It is the internet. First hand information.

  7. Twm O'r Nant
    17/01/2012 at 12:07 pm

    Miles JSd would do brilliantly as PM at liaison committee. All that crap; all that vomit, all that garbage, duping the wiliest of Liaison committee chairmen of chairmen!

  8. Twm O'r Nant
    17/01/2012 at 12:09 pm

    milesjsd: “1. Be clear 2. Be charitable 3. Be self-corrigible.”

    I do my best.

    This was the point I missed; self-corrigible?Lord Norton! Larf! The prefix is the wrong one!

    Miles JSd would do brilliantly as PM at liaison committee. All that crap; all that vomit, all that garbage, duping the wiliest of Liaison committee chairmen of chairmen!

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