Job-share MPs: what Lib Dem members think

by Stephen Tall on April 2, 2013

Lib Dem Voice polled our members-only forum recently to discover what Lib Dem members think of various political issues, the Coalition, and the performance of key party figures. Some 650 party members have responded, and we’re publishing the full results.

reformIt has been proposed the Liberal Democrats should be able to allow job-share candidates to stand on a joint ticket for election to Parliament to open up the role of MP to a wider group of people than at present. If elected, agreed protocols around voting, serving on select committees and other MPs’ duties would bind the job-share candidates. Do you support or oppose the idea of job-share MPs?


      – Support

49% – Oppose

17% – Don’t know

By a slim-but-clear margin Lib Dem members oppose the idea of job-share MPs, with almost one-half rejecting it. However, a substantial minority of one-third give it their backing. Here’s a sample of your comments:

There are much bigger issues with our electoral system than this.

Important for gender equality, allowing people with young children to be MPs

We need to some more details but it should not be dismissed out of hand as some have done.

This can only devalue the standing of MPs at a time when we are supposed to be concerned to rebuild same.

That is a fantastic and innovative idea, that will allow skilled candidates to take part without resort to illiberal positive discrimination.

It will make getting someone elected even more difficult.

Radical, liberal, progressive – what’s not to like!! Have raised this at conference before, but let’s ensure it’s available for all, including men :-)

It is completely impractical and would require major legal changes. What for example happens if one half of a job share dies or resigns?

Need to know how would work, but could come back into active politics if passed – and you want an older person’s point of view?

there are much better ways of promoting diversity

Totally ridiculous. Being a Parliamentarian is not a hobby, or like any other job. There are barriers that mean that some groups are not able to participate, and these need to be dismantled, but job sharing is potentially doubling the numbers of MP’s, and is an unrealistic and an unworkable option.

I think this is an innovative concept with much merit, but it will be exceedingly difficult to put into practice.

Maybe it should be piloted in a small number of constituencies? What about trying out a similar system in local government.?

As so often it depends on the detail. The danger is that it drives up costs and creates potential divisions. Multi member constituencies seem preferable to me.

Better to have multi-member constituencies with lists. If then someone needs time off for ill health or maternity/paternity they are covered by the next in the list.

I think this is highly impractical, the important thing is to get the best legislators and support them appropriately to do their job.

If we want a wider group in parliament, then we should campaign for a system of election which assists that. This proposal will simply bring tokenism into our political system – in the same way US presidential candidates have a balanced ticket.

Sounds good but not sure I like the idea of over a 1000 MPs all with their own expenses. a vote loser when it is dissected.

My experience of watching managers in job shares in senior positions in charity and the civil service is that they don’t deliver the best result for the organisation. Unfortunately I expect the same result were this applied to the role of MP.

Lots of questions about how it would work in practice – how voting would work, Ministerial ambitions etc.

Think this idea aims to get more professionals into parliament ie more of the same, not a wider cross-section of people. If want better representation, get rid of the corporate competencies framework. find the candidates then build the right support structures around them.

Probably some marginal gain but really … at a time of national crisis this is a severe case of bicycle shed syndrome.

Ludicrous idea.

Happens in all walks of life – I have yet to see a genuine good reason why not (they might disagree is not a good reason!)

I can’t think of a worse idea to reform Parliament, with the possible exception of AV. We need to push for true proportional representation (and at local level in England and Wales too, as in Scotland) and an increase in the number of people to sit in the HoC, in line with the general increase in population.

Just crazy. An MP is the figurehead of a team anyway. Do the job or don’t. I agree more should be done to attract diverse candidates, but this isn’t the answer,

Crazy, half baked idea. It will not achieve what it’s proponents seem to be suggesting. Stick with Multi-member constituencies with equality balanced party slates under STV.

I think it is a silly idea, especially when there are many other much more significant changes that could be made to tackle unfairness in the work place.

There will be no clear responsibility, if there are tow MPs who determines their right to attend,speak and vote. What if they fall out?

Give it a whirl. But STV would be better !

In principle a two for one offering…

My opposition is practical: what happens in the circumstance that those sharing the role disagree on how to vote. If they abstain, then constituents lose a voice. If they vote one way, it will probably tend to be on the party line, leading to a further loss of parliamentary independence.

Both MPs would end up being full-time despite efforts not to. Increasing MPs is not the answer.

A daft proposal which from experience of job share is doomed to failure

Interesting idea

Would be really messy in terms of responsibility, where the two candidates disagreed and what would happen if they fell out. Nice but slightly mad.

It is a good, radical idea, although I recognise it would be difficult to work out the detail.

Sounds like a dogs breakfast

Too complicated for constituents to work

Fully support. Not only would it open up the job to a wider group, but the ‘two for the price of one’ in expertise and ideas could potentially be a huge gain for the country.

  • 1,500 Lib Dem paid-up party members are registered with 647 responded to the latest survey, which was conducted between 14th and 17th March.
  • Please note: we make no claims that the survey is fully representative of the Lib Dem membership as a whole. However,’s surveys are the largest independent samples of the views of Lib Dem members across the country, and have in the past offered accurate guides to what party members think.
  • For further information on the reliability/credibility of our surveys, please refer to FAQs: Are the Liberal Democrat Voice surveys of party members accurate? and polling expert Anthony Wells’ verdict, On that poll of Lib Dem members.
  • The full archive of our members’ surveys can be viewed at

* Stephen Tall is Co-Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice, a Research Associate for the liberal think-tank CentreForum, and also writes at his own site, The Collected Stephen Tall.

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