It’s election night (or probably the early hours of the 13th December) and the moment you have been fighting for, for weeks, months and probably years, is finally here. Congratulations, you are now a Member of Parliament.
You’ve probably not stopped for the past few weeks and what you would most welcome right now is a few days in a dark room, or a little holiday; some time to rest and get your head around what has happened. Unfortunately, quite the opposite is about to happen! This is an insight into what a newly elected Member of Parliament can expect in the days that follow an election.
As your campaign team, friends and family rush around congratulating you, the Returning Officer will hand you an envelope containing your instructions on the next steps. You might also receive a WhatsApp message from the Whips Office telling you when you need to report to the House of Commons; they’ll usually give you the weekend to make your arrangements and expect you there on Monday morning.
Anyone elected pre-2010 will tell you about how “in their day” there was no such thing as an induction. You were left to make your own way, and if you were lucky a friendly colleague would let you follow them when the division bells rang. Thankfully, we have moved on slightly from that, but be ready to absorb huge quantities of new information (whilst also learning the names of all your new colleagues, your way around the Parliamentary estate, oh, and don’t forget you have constituency emails and post flooding in!).
The induction for new MPs is split into several different areas – the Clerks of the House will provide briefings on etiquette, how the Chamber works and the ins and outs of Parliamentary procedure. The House and IPSA will provide a New Members’ Reception Area set up to deal with everything from your salary, security, IT equipment to car parking spaces and your peg in the cloakroom! Then the Party will provide its own ‘induction’; which will be your first taste of a three-line whip.
The pressure of those first few days can be quite immense. Suddenly, you are a very small fish in a fast-flowing river and it can be difficult to navigate. A few tips to help you find your way through:
- The House staff now offers a ‘buddy’ for when you arrive. They can be invaluable to help you find your way around and will be your primary contact during the induction process.
- Make friends with any existing MP that has a large office. It will take some time for you to get your own office, and a place to perch and catch up on emails can be very useful.
- Be wary of filling your diary with private meetings; there will be some induction events you do not want to miss. The group photo of the new intake is a must, and they will not wait for you if you’re late!
- You will be advised not to recruit staff until you have a permanent office; though you are also expected to hit the ground running and will want to avoid a reduction in service for your constituents. Take advice on how remote and flexible working can help any staff you do have.
- It can be tempting to offer jobs to staff who worked as part of your campaign team. This never works well – what makes a great campaigner is not necessarily the same skill set needed for Parliamentary work.
- Finally, don’t forget to eat and drink (non-alcoholic!). There is a lot of rushing around and long days and it can be easy to forget to take care of yourself. You will not be at your best if you are dehydrated and running on empty.
We wish everyone well in these next few weeks and look forward to welcoming you to Westminster when that time comes. Hive Support offers MPs help with staffing and HR to relieve that pressure from you and your team. We have a database of current Parliamentary staff who will be on hand and can help you get your office up and running and stop constituency correspondence piling up in those early days.
Drop us an email if you would like any further information.
Sam Mackewn has over 13 years’ experience working in Parliamentary Offices, including playing a pivotal role in developing the new MPs induction process.