MPs (huh!) what are they good for?

On this morning’s Today programme, Geoff Hoon was trying to excuse his involvement in the  lobbying scandal by saying he was just looking for a job for when he stops being an MP.  Apparently for many of his former colleagues this has proved difficult because “the skills, the experience of a  member of parliament are not readily translatable into other walks of life”.   Really?  Off the top of my head I’ve come up with a starter list of transferable skills that any half-way decent MP should have built up over, say, the course of his or her first  term:

  • public speaking
  • public relations, media relations
  • issue-related campaigning, fundraising
  • running a small business
  • understanding the workings of central and local government
  • understanding the local structures which run the health, education, police and courts systems, social services, local planning regulations and the benefits system
  • ability to analyse and understand complex legislation
  • mediation between local interest groups
  • understanding  complex membership organisations

not to mention an extensive personal network of contacts and probably a pretty high national profile.  And that’s just MPs, Ministers have a whole different set of experiences to draw on. Now, I appreciate that it can be hard to change direction in middle-age, but lots of us have to do it and  I’d suggest that anyone with that little lot under their belt is probably a couple of steps ahead of your average job seeker.


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