My Week: Suzy Gale
The office manager for her MP husband on a week in which her job became threatened by the Kelly report
Saturday 31 October 2009
I'm the office manager for my husband Roger Gale, Conservative MP for Thanet North, so I drive 15 minutes to the office in Birchington between 6.30 and 7am.
My life is also ruled by our animals and I'm battling with two Newfoundlands, one of whom is on heat so I take Lollie to work with me. I like to do all the emails first thing when it's quiet and I spend a lot of the day answering the phone and working on correspondence. I usually watch the telly in the evening; I'm a great one for the soaps, I'm ashamed to say! I'm always in bed by 10.
After work a constituent comes over to the house to have tea. At 9pm we start to get phone calls about the leak of the Kelly report and get news that MPs' relatives are going to be banned from working for them. I'm very disappointed because Roger and I gave evidence, even though we rather felt that they had made their minds up already. Roger and I have been at this for nearly 27 years now and we feel very strongly that others should be allowed the same opportunities we've had to work together because we know it works. I'm all for openness and transparency and supervision. I'm very proud of what I do and the more openness there is about it, the better. I think the Kelly committee has got it wrong and it should never have been part of the package examined by that committee. This is to do with employment and staffing allowances, so it's very different. The system was abused by only two MPs or something; the rest of us have been dragged into it and are now being penalised.
I wake to find the Kelly report has made front-page news. The day passes in a total blur. My phone never stops ringing for interviews and I try to do all of them because I feel very strongly about it. Other wives and I want our voices to be heard. We are professional, hard-working people. There is no nepotism or sleaze about the job we do: we do it because we're highly qualified to do it. We just happen to be married to our Member of Parliament. I'm used to being the background girl and Roger is the frontman of the operation and it's his job to talk to the media, not mine, so it's quite surreal.
I should have been in London doing Westminster "dog of the year" but we couldn't go because of Lollie's condition, so it's work as usual. I don't go up to London much so it's a bit of a shame.
After work I go and collect for the RSPCA. Friday evenings are quiet as I work Saturdays too. I founded and run a small animal welfare charity called Animals Worldwide and we're holding a quiz night tomorrow night so I prepare for that a bit. Mine and Roger's system works so well for both of us and I know it will work for other people if only we're allowed to go on doing it.
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