This week's big questions: Why do people hate politicians? Should obese people who won’t exercise lose their benefits?

This week's questions are answered by Gloria De Piero, Labour MP for Ashfield

Share

Why should we care that politicians are now, as you have suggested, about as popular as axe murderers?

It doesn’t have to be the case. If some think we’re that bad, they should have a go at doing it themselves. In order to do that we need to open up our politics. I met a very opinionated woman called Sharon who worked at a warehouse in Derbyshire. She said to me on my “why do people hate me” tour: “It’s not advertised, is it? You don’t pick a paper up and it says ‘one politician wanted, come for this interview’, do you?” It’s a fair point.

What changes would bridge the disconnect between the sterility of Westminster debate and the concerns of the public?

We need a more representative Parliament – a one nation Parliament. Polling conducted for me by YouGov reveals that nearly one in four people would be interested in being an MP. I don’t think any of us would have expected that. I’m not a fan of the shouting and braying that go on in the chamber. Most people in the YouGov polling who said they wouldn’t consider standing said it’s the way we do politics that puts them off.

Are British people guilty of taking democracy too much for granted?

If people can’t be bothered to vote, I suspect that’s more to do with us than it is to do with them. I knock on a lot of doors, and it upsets me when so many think politics has nothing to do with them. One thing that shocked me on my “why do people hate me” tour was that when I asked what qualities were needed to become a politician, most said “qualifications”. All people need is a vision about the kind of country they want Britain to be and a passion for representing their community. I meet a lot of people who work for the people of Ashfield every day – maybe through a tenants’ and residents’ group or setting up sports clubs for local children. I’d like to see more of these people involved in politics. I want to explore ways of how to make it attractive for people like them to join us and stand. Get a broader pool in at a local level and you increase the pool available for Parliament.

If politics as it is practised is so unloved, how do you explain the rise of Ukip and the popularity of figures such as Boris Johnson? Aren’t people just hungry for honesty and authenticity?

I think Ukip is mostly an anti-politics vote and there’s always been a constituency for that. The Lib Dems used to get a lot of it before they went into government. I agree about authenticity. Boris isn’t my cup of tea; I don’t think you have to act like a buffoon to be authentic. Dennis Skinner came to Ashfield to support me in the general election campaign and said “always be yourself”. It’s good advice and I’ve stuck with it – for good or ill.

Is Peter Mandelson right when he says that Ed Miliband and Ed Balls still need to convince voters they can be trusted with the economy?

Peter also says it takes time. It’s what Ed Balls and Ed Miliband focus on every day. Lehman Brothers in the US didn’t collapse because the Labour government spent too much on schools and hospitals. The Government said it would eliminate the deficit but its plan isn’t working. You can’t eliminate the deficit without jobs and growth because tax revenues fall and borrowing rises.

Did Labour allow the [benefits] dependency culture to spiral out of control?

We’re the Labour Party – the party that was created to fight for people to have jobs. A Labour government would offer any adult who has been out of work for more than 24 months a job for six months. Anyone refusing the offer would lose their Jobseeker’s Allowance. We’re also promising a job for those aged between 18 and 24 who have been out of work for more than six months. It’s true there are some people on the make and that must be stopped, but let’s not tar everyone with the same brush. I meet people every day who are desperate to work. To call them scroungers is offensive.

Would you back a referendum on Britain’s continued membership of the EU?

I’m relaxed in principle, but I wouldn’t want a referendum now as I want our leaders to focus on getting the economy working. I’d vote to stay in the EU as most of our trade is with Europe, and I want us to be at the table when the rules are being drawn up. But when I’m knocking on doors it rarely comes up.

Should comedians be allowed to make off-colour jokes about the Queen?

I didn’t see [C4’s Big Fat Quiz of the Year] and politicians shouldn’t comment on programmes they haven’t seen. Actually, me and my husband had planned to watch the show but turned it over after a few minutes because it wasn’t making us laugh. We watched The Hotel on C4+1 instead which did the trick.

Is Labour copping out by allowing MPs to vote on gay marriage as a matter of individual conscience?

No, but I’ll be voting in favour. Love is the thing that makes life worth living – marriage is the way people celebrate that love.

Should obese people who refuse to  exercise have their benefits cut?

So if you’ve got a job, you don’t have to exercise, but if you lose your job you do? Come off it.

Gloria De Piero is the Labour MP for Ashfield

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Tradewind Recruitment: English Teacher

Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: This post arises as a result of the need to...

Tradewind Recruitment: Class Teacher Required ASAP In Uminster

£120 - £150 per annum: Tradewind Recruitment: I am recruiting on instruction o...

Ashdown Group: Head of Finance - Financial Director - London - £70,000

£70000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Head of Finance - Financial Controller - Fina...

Ashdown Group: Marketing Executive - Wimbledon, SW London

£24000 - £28000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Marketing Executive - Wim...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

I’m not sure I fancy any meal that’s been cooked up by a computer

John Walsh
Labour leader Ed Miliband delivers a speech on his party's plans for the NHS, in Sale, on Tuesday  

Why is Miliband fixating on the NHS when he’d be better off focussing on the wealth gap?

Andreas Whittam Smith
Greece elections: In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza

Greece elections

In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza, says Patrick Cockburn
Holocaust Memorial Day: Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears

Holocaust Memorial Day

Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears over Europe
Fortitude and the Arctic attraction: Our fascination with the last great wilderness

Magnetic north

The Arctic has always exerted a pull, from Greek myth to new thriller Fortitude. Gerard Gilbert considers what's behind our fascination with the last great wilderness
Homeless Veterans appeal: Homeless in Wales can find inspiration from Daniel’s story

Homeless Veterans appeal

Homeless in Wales can find inspiration from Daniel’s story
Front National family feud? Marine Le Pen and her relatives clash over French far-right party's response to Paris terror attacks

Front National family feud?

Marine Le Pen and her relatives clash over French far-right party's response to Paris terror attacks
Pot of gold: tasting the world’s most expensive tea

Pot of gold

Tasting the world’s most expensive tea
10 best wildlife-watching experiences: From hen harriers to porpoises

From hen harriers to porpoises: 10 best wildlife-watching experiences

While many of Britain's birds have flown south for the winter, it's still a great time to get outside for a spot of twitching
Nick Easter: 'I don’t want just to hold tackle bags, I want to be out there'

'I don’t want just to hold tackle bags, I want to be out there'

Nick Easter targeting World Cup place after England recall
DSK, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel

The inside track on France's trial of the year

Dominique Strauss-Kahn, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel:
As provocative now as they ever were

Sarah Kane season

Why her plays are as provocative now as when they were written
Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of a killing in Iraq 11 years ago

Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of another killing

Japanese mood was against what was seen as irresponsible trips to a vicious war zone
Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

The enemy within

People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

Autumn/winter menswear 2015

The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore