Monday, 23 January 2012

Advice for Uppals

As you know, my normal mode of communication with Paul Uppal MP is shouting from the moral heights down at him in the moral depths, but for a change, I'm going to pass on some advice (though he probably won't be able to tune in - as he sometimes does from a House of Commons computer - because Parliament's IT services have blocked all blogspot sites - including those of several MPs).

OK, to the advice. It's 'buy Paul Flynn MP's new book, How To Be An MP'. I know it's a bit late, given that you've been one for a couple of years now, and you won't be one for much longer (you only got in this time because loads of Labour voters abstained: the Tory vote hardly shifted) with your majority of 691.

Flynn's seen people like you before. The cover of the book features the 'types' of MP, including 'virtuoso bore', 'single issue eccentric' (though your dishonesty on the matter of tax breaks for yourself makes you more than an irritant) and 'irritant'. However, having started off by misleading parliament and joining a rather dubious list of all-party parliamentary groups, I think he might, given enough time and opportunity, aspire to becoming a 'Sleaze Monger':
Little talent or qualification is required, only guile and a thick skin. The job is to ask questions, fix meetings with ministers and make speeches prepared by Avarice Unlimited plc, Despot-stan, or Pharma-larceny… exceptional mental flexibility is required to pile up private riches while posing as the servant of the masses… Self deception is a potent force when lubricated with money. 
I think I've found his niche…

Other useful sections include 'How To Tweet':
Constituents can enjoy a constant communion of ideas and inspiration with their Honourable Member. Strive to find the best words to create a striking aphorism or a haiku… The best MPs use Twitter to argue and debate with people they might never have met but whose ideas are interesting and important (and sometimes idiotic and obnoxious, but that's democracy). 
If you're familiar with Mr. Uppal's Twitter stream, you'll understand why he needs to read this section twice. Or have someone explain it to him. He rarely replies to anyone, and they're always Tories when he does - he sees Twitter as a propaganda tool rather than a conversation (unlike Flynn). The 'How to Blog' section probably isn't worth reading: he faked one before the election, deleted some comments he didn't like and gave up. He's one of those of whom Flynn (an excellent blogger) sees as 'terrified of saying anything interesting. They hold that thinking is optional and originality dangerous for MPs'. Whereas blogging, says Flynn, 'is a welcome discipline to jump-start the synapses into daily callisthenics'. Works for me… or does it?

I won't quote the 'How To Please Constituents' section, because he's shown no interest in that at all: he turns up at Tory-friendly events, says something shifty to retain their votes, then slinks back to his tax-planning. Suffice it to say, a good MP does more than wheel out his or her own financial interests and loony beliefs, prefixing each sentences with 'my constituents tell me' as though we can't see through that. Paul can also skip the 'How to be Re-elected' section (he's beyond help), though 'How To Resign' might come in useful.

I'll close with this quotation, sent to me by an expert in Jacobite drama, which she felt might suit the errant MP:

…to hold a place
In Counsell, which was once esteem'd an honour,
And a reward for vertue, hath quite lost
Lustre, and Reputation, and is made
A mercenary purchase.
From whence it proceeds,
That the treasure of the City is ingros'd
By a few private men

Philip Massinger, The Bondsman.

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