Representation In Absentia

Five weeks have now passed since the election, and it’s fair to say that our new MP, Ms Danielle Rowley, is well and truly enamored with life at Westminster. So much so, in fact, that it seems that she’d rather be there – or, indeed, anywhere – than at home with the constituents she now represents, though at first glance, her maiden speech would have you believe otherwise.

Indeed, her maiden speech is full of curious little anomalies. Let’s look at a few of them; the first appears just two paragraphs in:

Maiden Speech 2

Ms Rowley calls for getting “the best deal for our economy, protect jobs and defend the rights of EU nationals”, which is after all the party line. The anomaly is in what she says next – “I will be fighting for that on behalf of my constituents in Midlothian, and I thank them for sending me here to do that.”

Except they didn’t, as it happens:

MidRemain

Midlothian voted Remain, with an 10,000+ majority. To claim that the people of Midlothian sent her to Westminster to push forward with Brexit in any capacity is an outright falsehood.

Indeed, one of her first actions as MP was to abstain from a vote on remaining in the Single Market, an amendment submitted by her fellow Labour MP, Chuka Umunna – a fact that cannot have gone unnoticed by the 1600+ EU nationals living in Midlothian.

On to the next anomaly:

Maiden Speech 3

 

Ms Rowley may indeed be keeping the tradition alive, coming from miner stock, but the idea that Labour are the party of the miner community in Midlothian is long since dead. In the Council, Labour – who run the administration – are in unofficial coalition with the Conservatives, whose policies in the 1980’s brought about the Miners’ Strike she makes reference to. In doing so, they have relinquished any claim that they may have to represent that community.

And finally, the greatest anomaly of all:

Maiden Speech 4.PNG

I have no issues with the points that Ms Rowley raises here. While the necessity of the existence of foodbanks in 2017 is a travesty, there is no doubt that they are vital to the continued survival of so many who are affected by the policies of the Conservative Government.

Which is why I do take issue with her raising this point just a week after her party voted with the Conservatives in Midlothian Council to slash the funding for Third Sector services – foodbanks included – while simultaneously voting to give themselves £20,000 to “reconfigure their offices”. Ms Rowley may be an advocate of socialism, but it is clear that the majority of the Midlothian Labour branch do not share her views.

Indeed, many of the community projects that she so zealously advocates in the excerpt below…

Maiden Speech 1

… will be directly impacted by the cuts her party has voted through, and some may even have to close their doors as a result.

I was surprised, at first, that Ms Rowley would bring this up in her maiden speech just a week after the developments on the council – surely her constituents would have informed her of this?

And that was when I discovered that, despite a full five weeks passing since taking office, Ms Rowley has not held a single surgery in Midlothian, nor are any scheduled for the summer months – that time of year when families are stretched even further as kids are off school and household costs soar as a result, no doubt ensuring an increased reliance on the very foodbanks her party has cut funding from. In fact, at time of writing, not so much as a “Thank You” correspondence has been sent from Ms Rowley’s office to the constituents she claims to represent.

It isn’t as though she is pressed for time – after all, she has time to post tweets such as the below:

Twitter.jpg

I am not claiming that Ms Rowley has not returned to Midlothian physically – indeed, her maiden speech also references her attendance “of many Children’s Gala Days” since her election – but it seems that only when there is a photo opportunity can she be found, as evidenced by her attendance of the Durham Miner’s Gala on the 3rd of July, just three days before this speech would be delivered in the House of Commons.

Those constituents who she so vehemently defends in her speech are suffering at the hands of her party, with cuts forced through with Conservative votes. Perhaps it is time for Ms Rowley to take her eyes away from the glamour of Parliament, from the £74,000 a year salary and the plush, tax-payer funded accommodation, and cast her eyes back up North, to the constituents she seems to have left behind at the mercy of her party – a Labour that not only no longer holds a consensus with her policies, but seems content to actively advocate and implement those of the Conservative Government.

“For the many, not the few”, indeed.

 

 

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