I finally found my MP in the woodshed

Share
Related Topics
Almost five years ago, I moved from east London to rural Northamptonshire. Now, at last, I'm going to vote in my new constituency.

For the first time in my life I am not 100 per cent certain how I will vote. I want the Conservatives out. But I am a feminist socialist - can I bear to vote for New Labour, Tony's smirk and a promise to stick to a Tory budget? Perhaps I should vote for the Liberal Democrats, for more money for education and for some interesting constitutional reforms. I could consider tactical voting, just to get rid of the Tories, but then I must take account of the situation in my present constituency and of the particular candidates.

Snag. I do not know which my constituency is. East Northants, I had believed, but when I consulted a politically informed friend, I was told there was no such Parliamentary seat. I do not know my MP's name either. I am embarrassed - I think of myself as a politically minded sort of person; au fait with current events and moral issues, but I haven't a clue who my MP is. Nor have the ten neighbours I then ask. I bet this is not unique to Northamptonshire (be honest, do you?) but it seems to undermine the argument against proportional representation - that we need a personal local representative.

I went to the public library and found that you can identify an MP by his constituency or a constituency by its member, but it is tricky if you don't know either - especially between the prorogation of Parliament and the official start of an election. The library computer won't be able to tell me what I need to know for another couple of weeks.

So I tried the post office. North Northants, I was told, which sounded right. I went back to the library and looked it up: my MP was Tony Marlow, a well-known hard-right-winger, with a small, indeed possibly defeatable, majority in 1992. Things were looking up.

Except that the information was wrong. The next day tidying up my woodshed I saw a photo of the local MP in a copy of last year's local paper. It wasn't a Mr Marlow. It was a Mr Freeman.

Back to the library. Roger Freeman, "a moderate chartered accountant and merchant banker" was the Conservative MP for Kettering. Kettering used to be in a constituency with Corby, and had returned a Labour member in every election from 1945 to 1979. However, in a boundary change, before 1983, Kettering and Corby were split, and some prosperous rural wards were added from Daventry, to make the new constituency of Kettering a Tory stronghold with a majority of 20.8 per cent in 1992.

He looks pretty safe. So I can't vote tactically just to get the Conservative out. I shall have to think positively about parties and candidates. I shall have to make up my mind. I need to know more about the local branches and the individuals standing. (Would a woman candidate tip the balance? How do I compare positions on Equal Age of Consent, fox-hunting and the divorce law?). But it has taken me so long to get this far that Easter weekend is upon us, and none of the local political parties are answering their phones until Tuesday - when, my search for political information will continue.

React Now

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

SEN Teacher

£110 - £125 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: We are urgently seeking a ...

Training Programme Manager (Learning and Development)-London

£28000 - £32000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Training Programme Manage...

Training/Learning and Development Coordinator -London

£28000 - £32000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Training/Learning and Development Co...

Year 5/6 Teacher

£100 - £120 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: The successful applicant w...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

The daily catch-up: Joe on Vlad, banks of the Jordan and Blair's radicalism

John Rentoul
 

Believe me, I said, there’s nothing rural about this urban borough’s attempt at a country fair

John Walsh
Some are reformed drug addicts. Some are single mums. All are on benefits. But now these so-called 'scroungers’ are fighting back

The 'scroungers’ fight back

The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
Amazing video shows Nasa 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action

Fireballs in space

Amazing video shows Nasa's 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action
A Bible for billionaires

A Bible for billionaires

Find out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
Paranoid parenting is on the rise - and our children are suffering because of it

Paranoid parenting is on the rise

And our children are suffering because of it
For sale: Island where the Magna Carta was sealed

Magna Carta Island goes on sale

Yours for a cool £4m
Phone hacking scandal special report: The slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

The hacker's tale: the slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

Glenn Mulcaire was jailed for six months for intercepting phone messages. James Hanning tells his story in a new book. This is an extract
We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

Child abusers are not all the same, yet the idea of treating them differently in relation to the severity of their crimes has somehow become controversial
The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

For instance, did Isis kill the Israeli teenagers to trigger a war, asks Patrick Cockburn
Alistair Carmichael: 'The UK as a whole is greater than the sum of its parts'

Alistair Carmichael: 'The UK as a whole is greater than the sum of its parts'

Meet the man who doesn't want to go down in history as the country's last Scottish Secretary
Legoland Windsor's master model-makers reveal the tricks of their trade (including how to stop the kids wrecking your Eiffel Tower)

Meet the people who play with Lego for a living

They are the master builders: Lego's crack team of model-makers, who have just glued down the last of 650,000 bricks as they recreate Paris in Windsor. Susie Mesure goes behind the scenes
The 20 best days out for the summer holidays: From Spitfires to summer ferry sailings

20 best days out for the summer holidays

From summer ferry sailings in Tyne and Wear and adventure days at Bear Grylls Survival Academy to Spitfires at the Imperial War Museum Duxford and bog-snorkelling at the World Alternative Games...
Open-air theatres: If all the world is a stage, then everyone gets in on the act

All the wood’s a stage

Open-air productions are the cue for better box-office receipts, new audiences, more interesting artistic challenges – and a picnic
Rand Paul is a Republican with an eye on the world

Rupert Cornwell: A Republican with an eye on the world

Rand Paul is laying out his presidential stall by taking on his party's disastrous record on foreign policy
Self-preservation society: Pickles are moving from the side of your plate to become the star dish

Self-preservation society

Pickles are moving from the side of your plate to become the star dish
Generation gap opens a career sinkhole

Britons live ever longer, but still society persists in glorifying youth

We are living longer but considered 'past it' younger, the reshuffle suggests. There may be trouble ahead, says DJ Taylor