Why I’m against job-sharing for MPs

by Stephen Tall on March 7, 2014

Lib Dem MP Tom Brake backs the idea of job-sharing MPs over at Lib Dem Voice:

… if we want parliamentarians to know about life outside Westminster, we should be prepared to make it easier for them to have one. In business, the civil service and the trade unions, people have realised that job-sharing opens up their organisations to a much wider range of talent, of both genders and of all ages and family circumstances.

I’m afraid I just don’t buy it. For a start, I think job-sharing MPs would end up having to work at least as hard as any non-job-sharing MPs, bending over backwards to prove they’re not part-timers

But the other problem I have with it is, quite simply, this: it makes elections about what’s good for the candidates not about what’s good for the public. Though intended to boost the representation of women in the House of Commons, I suspect it would have the opposite effect, with voters reacting against an arrangement many would see as confusing and distracting.

It doesn’t happen very often, but I agree with irascible Lib Dem peer Tony Greaves:

The way to share out areas between different MPs is by STV, not silly technical ways to fix the system.

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2 comments

While I agree that the practicalities of having job sharing MPs would lead to those MPs working as hard as their non-sharing peers, I don’t believe that there would be as much of a disconnect with the voters as you state.

There is nothing to say that the job-sharing MPs must have the same background. It does not need to be two women, sharing a job due to childcare. It could be conceivable that two job sharing MPs with two different backgrounds would be more representative of more voters in large diverse metropolitan areas; for example my constituency of Sheffield Central, than one particular candidate.

The real question that I have is what would happen if the two job-sharing MPs had a difference of opinion on a Commons vote. If they “agree to disagree” and abstain every time there was a disagreement then that constituency could lose its voice in the House and would not get the representation that it would from one candidate.

by Jason on March 8, 2014 at 12:31 am. Reply #

I get the concern, but I think the burden of proof is on you – if an electorate want to vote for a job-share, they should be allowed to.

by Henry Vann on March 8, 2014 at 1:10 pm. Reply #

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