Scandal hit MP for Sheffield Hallam, Jared O’Mara (elected as Labour, now suspended) has cancelled his surgeries for local residents.
These are the opportunities which constituents have to raise an issue with an MP in person. Often for sensitive issues, seeing someone face-to-face is exactly what people want, need and have a right to expect. Correspondence isn’t a substitute, which is why it is so exceptionally rare to come across an MP who won’t meet their constituents in this way.
But that’s not stopped Jared O’Mara. In response, the recently selected Liberal Democrat candidate for Sheffield Hallam, Laura Gordon, is putting on her own surgeries:
Great though Laura Gordon’s initiative is, it’s worth reflecting that even with her efforts the constituents of Sheffield Hallam can’t get a full service. That’s because various organisations deliberately treat quicker or better requests for help that come their way via an MP. Prioritising an issue where an MP has got involved makes obvious sense for an organisation. It has some debatable side-effects, but whether you agree therefore that it’s right or wrong, it’s also fact. Which means that when an MP isn’t doing their job with constituents, then however much someone else tries to fill the gap, constituents suffer.*
So well done, Laura Gordon, but crikey – it’s a remarkably bad move by Jared O’Mara MP.
* It’s why, to digress completely, the increasing pattern of MPs doing maternity/paternity/sick leave cover for their colleagues is a trend to be very much welcomed. It means constituents don’t suffer and we don’t force MPs to have to have absurd working practices to avoid that.