There are 650 constituencies in the United Kingdom. Every five years, registered voters in these constituencies elect Members of Parliament to represent them in the House of Commons.
MPs propose new laws and use their positions to raise issues affecting the people they represent in the House. If you are above 18 years with strong political beliefs and can demonstrate to voters that you possess the ability to represent them effectively, you could become an MP.
What do Members of Parliament do?
The work of an MP is requires a delicate balancing act. They must:
Work in the House of Commons – This involves attending parliamentary sessions and raising issues of concern to the people they represent and voting on new laws.
Work in their constituencies – They attend events in their constituencies and holding meetings with the local people to discuss matters that affect them.
Work for political parties – An MP can be appointed to a post in his political party as, for example, chairman or secretary. The member will have to execute the of his post.
Other duties include:
- Debating on issues affecting the public and question the government
- Creating new policies and voting on laws
- Relaying issues affecting constituents to relevant authorities in the government
- Making speeches at events
- Responding to the public through media interviews.
MPs work from Monday to Friday. Although their day typically begins at 9am, they sometimes work until midnight holding parliamentary debates. As such, most MPs often stay in London and travel to their constituencies during the weekends, summer breaks or when parliament is in recess.
When MPs are not in their parliament offices, you can find them in their constituencies or political party offices. Domestic and foreign travel are also part of an MP’s job.
The following table details the amount of money MPs with various responsibilities earn in a year:
|Job Title||Annual Pay|
|Member of Parliament||£65,738|
|Opposition chief whip||£107,108|
|Government chief whip||£145,445|
Source: Parliament UK
To become a Member of Parliament, you must meet the following requirements:
- Be 18 years and above
- Be a citizen of Britain, the republic of Ireland or a commonwealth country
In politics, academic qualifications do not have a significant impact. Instead, devotion to a political party and a firm belief in the issues you stand for can steer you to parliament.
To kick start your political career you can:
- Engage in student politics while in college or university
- Be an active member of a trade union
- Serve as a local councilor
When the time to seek a parliamentary seat comes -- usually during a general election or by election -- you can enter as an independent candidate or secure a political party’s nomination. To obtain this nomination, you will need to:
- Submit nomination papers signed by at least ten voters from your constituency
- Pay a £500 deposit
If you garner more than five percent of the total votes cast during the election, your political party will refund you the money.
It is important to note that some prospective MPs can be disqualified by the Electoral Commission from running for the seat.
After doing this, you will need to campaign intensively and convince the electorate that you are the best placed candidate to represent them. If you get a majority of the votes, you win the election.
Important skills and Abilities
To carry out all the functions of a MP effectively, you must possess following skills and abilities:
- The determination and commitment to defeat the many competitors you will face
- Strong political and social beliefs
- Excellent communication to effectively influence masses when giving speeches
- Strong leadership qualities to execute other functions like chairing committees
- Problem-solving skills to address the issues affecting the public
- An interest in social and economic matters
- The ability and knowledge to steer your constituency toward economic growth
Training and Development
After being elected, you will attend training workshops attend to learn how to:
- Make effective presentations
- Deal with the media
- Adhere to parliamentary procedures
As an MP, you should always stay abreast of current affairs. Watch domestic and foreign news, read magazines and journals, and attend conferences.
As a member of the House of Commons, you could be elected to serve in the:
- Scottish Parliament
- Northern Ireland Assembly
- Welsh Assembly
- The European Parliament in Brussels and Strasbourg
With experience, you could also chair parliamentary committees and hold senior party positions, such as party whip, party spokesman or party leader
If your party is in power, you have strong prospects of becoming an assistant cabinet minister, minster or cabinet minister.
- Skills for Justice
- Newcastle University
That is all you need to become an MP; a career that can be challenging and rewarding at the same time. Ultimately, it gives you the opportunity to contribute toward the social and economic development of your people.
Photo Credits - RT