Sunday, August 03, 2008

Tory MPs Reading List

I'm slightly bemused by the story in today's Sunday Telegraph about Tory MPs being given a reading list designed to make them better MPs.  A more pretentious bunch of claptrap I've never come across.  First of all, who has the right to tell their sub-ordinates what they have to do on holiday?  If my boss gave me a list of 38 work-related books to read on my fortnight on the beach I think I'd tell her to get stuffed.  

And the books on the list aren't exactly fun frolics.  Muqtada al-Sadr and the fall of Iraq, or 1948: The First Arab Israeli War don't quite lend themselves to a poolside and a pina colada.  Why do we insist that MPs must always be serious?  Why can't they get away from work for a couple of weeks when they are on holiday?  Would my MP be less good at his job if he read the latest John Grisham or Jilly Cooper or Alexander McCall Smith on holiday rather than the historical reading list they've been given?  Of course not.  Nor will he become a better constituency MP by reading about Lloyd George's women.  Of course, if these are the books that individuals want to read then by all means of course they should.

And we're always told that the long recesses aren't all holiday, that MPs work just as hard in their constituencies during recess as they do in Parliament during session.  So are they expected to read these 38 books in their two/three week holiday?  I'm a pretty voracious reader but even on the laziest of holidays I only average one book a day.  So what will they be losing to read this list?  Precious and deserved time with their families or time with their constituents?  I'd rather they had both.

I also want a governing party that respects the rights of individuals to choose their own leisure activities and how to lead their own lives.  If David Cameron makes it clear he can't trust his own MPs then what hope have the rest of us got?

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