Do you love sharing your political views? Have you always felt that you would be a good legislator? If so, then you might want to consider becoming a Member of Parliament (an MP). Once elected by either a general election or a local by-election, you’re all set to go and help your constituents get what they want.
MPs are also called constituency representatives, elected representatives, or simply politicians. They serve their constituents in the House of Commons. They associate with one of the major parties in the system. Getting involved, in some form, with the party you’re most interested in is a great way to determine if you’d like to be an MP someday.
Getting Started: The Basics
There aren’t many actual requirements to be an MP. However, there are a few recommendations that would make it easier to accomplish this goal. First, a passion for politics definitely helps. This doesn’t mean you have to know everything about it, but a passion for it is a great way to start.
If you campaign and volunteer for your particular party, this can go a long way as well. You can do this by doing things such as:
- Helping a current MP with research or a caseload
- Serving as a councillor at a local level
- Involvement in a trade union
- Involvement in student politics
You don’t have to be a graduate to become an MP. However, an undergraduate degree in some type of political science would be a big asset. All of the recommendations centre on one thing: your love of and interest in politics. That is essentially all you need to increase the odds of being elected as an MP.
What to Do First
You should be 18 years of age or older. Also, you should be a citizen of the UK, Republic of Ireland, or the Commonwealth. The skills required are as follows:
- Active listener
- Legal knowledge regarding goverment and court proceedings
- Computer literate
- Excellent thinking and communication skills
- No criminal record
When you decide to run for MP, you can either register as a member of a political party or run as an independent. Knowledge of your party’s platform and their own specific requirements and recommendations helps. In most cases, you’ll need the support of that party’s nominating officer before you can run for election.
To formally run for election, you’ll need to:
- Pay a £500 deposit.
- Be nominated by 10 or more electors in the constituency you wish to represent.
- Actively campaign in person and online by attending meetings, making speeches, and talking to the media.
A lot will be expected of you. This is a people-oriented job that requires a sense of service to others. The £500 deposit will be returned to you if you get at least 5% of the votes in the constituency you’re interested in representing.
Political Parties in England
Unlike the United States, which essentially has only two political parties (not including Independents), England has the following parties:
- Conservative Party: the centre-right party that values conservatism and unionism.
- Labour Party: the centre-left party that values social democracy and democratic socialism.
- Liberal Democrats: the centrist party that values liberalism and federalism.
- UK Independence Party: the right-wing party that wants to take the UK out of the European Union; it also values conservatism and populism.
- Green Party of England and Wales: the left-wing party that values green politics, eco-socialism, and republicanism.
In addition, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland each have their own sets of political parties. There are also nearly two dozen minor political parties in the UK. These include the English Democrats, Socialist Labour Party, Socialist Alternative, and the Pirate Party.
What Type of Career Does an MP Have?
Your career as an MP starts the moment you decide to run for election. You may be working toward your goal for a long time as MP elections are only held every five years. Once elected, your specific job duties will depend on which party is in power, or in the majority. General elections occur at least every five years. However, the prime minister can decide to hold more of them if desired.
If your party is in power, you have the chance to move from junior minister to minister and then cabinet minister. Otherwise your job will likely consist of participating in a shadow cabinet or being a spokesperson on certain issues. Parties need a minimum of 326 MP representatives to be considered the majority in the House of Commons, or the party in power.
As far as your day-to-day responsibilities go, you will mostly be responsible for completing tasks such as:
- Representing your constituents’ concerns with relevant ministers
- Voting on new laws and policies
- Raising questions, debating issues, and more
- Speaking to the media
- Attending various conferences and meetings
- Talking to schools, businesses, and so on, about various local and national issues
- Holding sessions with your constituents to address questions and concerns
In addition, you will work long hours, including spending much time away from home. The job is both physically and emotionally draining at times. Still, it is a job that allows you to help real people with real issues. Therefore, if you’re a “people person,” you’ll get a lot of personal satisfaction from it. After all, it is very satisfying to feel like you’re getting important things done on a regular basis.
How Much Do MPs Make?
MP salaries vary depending on experience and how long you’ve been doing the job. The low (starting) end is around £81,932 and the high end paying roughly £142,500. The typical workweek is 44 to 46 hours long, and you’ll have to work evenings at least occasionally. Once you gain some experience, you can make some pretty good money being an MP. But again, serving the people of the UK will be the most rewarding part of the job.
What If You’re Interested But Unprepared?
If you’re interested in becoming an MP, but lack any formal training, there are still things you can do before running for election. These include:
- Watch the news on television and read newspapers. Learn about the issues facing the country and where other candidates stand on these issues. You have to know what’s going on in your government to work for the government.
- Improve your public speaking and debating skills. You can do this by taking public speaking classes or becoming a member of an organisation that stresses this skill.
- Decide which political party you wish to join. If you’re not sure which one to join, a little research can be helpful. You can also volunteer to work with a certain party. This will ensure that they are the one you want to be affiliated with.
- Contact a current MP and ask to work or volunteer with them. Learn as much as possible about the candidate and the campaign and election process. This will give you invaluable real-life experience should you ever get elected.
- Learn about the constituency you are interested in representing. If it isn’t the constituency where you live, this step is especially important. If the people who live there consider you an outsider, they aren’t as likely to vote for you. Spend time in the area as often as possible. This is the only way to know about the issues that concern them most.
The key to running for a position in Parliament can be summed up in one word: knowledge. The more you know about the election process, your political party, and the workings of the government, the better prepared you’ll be to campaign, run for office, and become the best MP you can be.
Some Final Thoughts
Being an MP is an active and important job. If you put enough due diligence into the steps leading up to you getting elected, you’ll be a lot more successful at it afterward. Because there are no formal educational requirements to run for this type of office, nearly everyone is a candidate for a position like this. By working hard and learning what you can about being a great MP, you can get one step closer to this goal in no time.
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