Welsh MPs: Hot-desking and depression as politicians return


Boris Johnson’s general election victory saw 109 new MPs sworn into the Commons, with seven of them in Wales.

Labour still have the majority of seats in Wales, but they lost six and scores in the rest of Great Britain.

While the Conservatives are buoyant about the task ahead of them, and their new members are settling in, their opposition is soul searching for the future.

Fay Jones, the MP for Brecon and Radnorshire, is among the Tory new MPs.

What is it like as a new MP?
Eventually MPs get their own offices in Westminster, where they can employ staff and do their day-to-day work away from the Commons chamber.

But Ms Jones is hot-desking. Her office is not sorted yet – not that she is complaining.

“There is obviously a huge intake. We’ve got 109 new members.”

“That’s a nice problem to have,” she said.

Ms Jones, whose father Gwilym Jones served Cardiff North in the 1980s and 1990s, said she was starting to find her way around the place. “It is vast,” she said.

There’s a lot for her to learn, she said. “It’s just very busy. You’re always meant to be somewhere else.”

MPs get staff, too. They can help organise their diary and help conduct research.

At the start MPs are generally at their own devices, as is Ms Jones. Her staff are recruited – but cannot begin their work straight away.

The new politician said her biggest surprise had been the Queen’s Speech.

“You sort of funnel in and there’s lots and lots of you in there,” she said.

The lack of hierarchy had surprised her. “I thought more senior members would go in front of me,” she said. “But actually all new members are treated equally.”

She thought the Commons would be stuffy and hard to navigate. “It’s not, it’s wonderful.”

What is it like for Labour MPs coming back to Parliament?
It has been a very different kind of return for Chris Bryant, the Labour MP for Rhondda, as his party begins the search for a new leader.

He was re-elected after 60 of his colleagues lost their seats in the December general election.

“The atmosphere in Parliament is completely different,” he said.

“For a start the Labour Party feels a bit depressed. We feel we let our voters down. There’s a lot of restructuring – recalibrating.”

“You go in the chamber – there’s so many Tories they spill over. There aren’t enough seats for them. They feel very bullish and proud of themselves.”

The hung parliament of 2017 to 2019, where backbenchers wielded significant power, has gone.

‘Embarrass the government’
Mr Bryant would certainly prefer Labour was in government, but during that time he got a private members bill on protecting emergency worker passed.

“I only needed a few Tories to side with me and I’d win.

“Now, we’ve got to get 50, 55 Tories with us to win a vote. That will be a pretty tall order.”

What’s the point of begin the MP for the Rhondda at the moment, then?

“I ask myself that,” he said.

“There are things you can do. You can raise questions. you can embarrass the government.”

He has his own cross-party campaigns – on concussion in sport, and skin cancer.

“But in the end, if I really want to be able to deliver for the Rhondda… that needs a Labour government.”

“That is the task for the Labour party now – to rebuild so first of all we are proper opposition and a government in waiting.”

About the author

Olivia Wilson
By Olivia Wilson


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