Monday, 30 March 2015

Packing up the Westminster office - 4 years 11 months in room 101

Today I have the job of packing up the Westminster office, and winding up all the paraphernalia of 5 years in this job. I have been based in Room 101 Norman Shaw North since late May 2010. As constituents who have visited will know it is small [about 20 foot by 20], cramped by desks, filing cabinets and stuff, and cold in winter and hot in summer. It is definitely far from modern or luxurious. However, it has been my London base for a long time and there is a lot of memories, meetings and man hours that have taken place here. My neighbours here on the first floor of the Old Scotland Yard Police Building [in rooms 100 and 102] are the Labour MPs Keith Vaz, chair of the Home Affairs Select Committee, and Jon Cruddas, the radical Labour free thinker; I like both MPs, although they could not be more different. Vaz is full of bonhomie, and is great value to be with, and was very kind to me when I was ill, but he is also the ultimate political operator. Cruddas I know less well, although he is one of the few true intellects in the Labour operation.  

The pack up is my responsibility - myself and the London staff will muck in. It is important to understand that from late afternoon on March 30 all MPs, from the PM downwards, are no longer members of parliament. I have changed all the emails, twitter and blogs etc. I can, and will, be trying to hold holding surgeries, home visits, and continuing to assist constituents as best I can, but it is going to be difficult without access to all the data, emails, information and other material that have governed the last 5 years, and I will only be a candidate. The casework that is ongoing I will be dealing with as best I can. There are still a couple of meetings with civil servants for constituents that I am attending to - for example, I have to be here Monday as there is a DECC DRHI meeting that affects a number of constituents, that we are having in the DECC department in London.

Once March 30 ends I am locked out of the Westminster office and prevented from going to the house of commons private areas. All computers are not accessible. I have set up alternative accounts and will sorting diverts and helping with ongoing casework, but bear with me. If I lose the election then the new MP will take over all casework, and the many hundreds of ongoing inquiries, issues and causes that I have been involved in. If I win then we start again on May 8th. I will blog details of how to get in touch etc during the 5+ weeks of the election over the next week. The blog is mine, drafted by me, and at no cost to the taxpayer, ever since I set it up in 2008 on blogspot, so this will continue for sure!