Stella Creasy’s Maternity Leave Whine – But Why Do We Have Elections In The First Place?


Stella Creasy is whining about maternity arrangements for MPs. She will, as and when the time comes, remain on full pay for as long as she desires to not go to Westminster etc. No one at all will check up on what she does nor how she does it. The cheques, from us, just keep arriving. Her job will be held open until the next election just like that of every other MP.

It’s probably the sweetest maternity deal in the world. This is not enough:

Women are forced to choose between being an MP and being a mum because of Parliament’s rules, a pregnant MP says. Labour MP for Walthamstow Stella Creasy says Ipsa – the body which regulates MPs’ pay – have made it “impossible” to fulfil her responsibilities to her constituents once her baby is born. That’s because Ipsa does not automatically provide paid cover for MPs on parental leave.

MPs themselves are paid in full for the whole period.

Paid cover, eh?

Now consider our basic method of democracy. As Burke pointed out we do not choose delegates. We choose representatives. People whose judgement we trust to go off and do that governing thing for us. It is a standard part of the British deal that we elect a specific individual. That’s the whole point of the election itself.

That’s why Stella Creasy got elected – because the voters in that constituency specifically chose Stella Creasy. This is not, as with euro-elections, a selection from a party list, where if an MEP dies, resigns, retires, the next person on the party list steps up. Nope – Stella Creasy got elected and if she goes then there’s another election to select another specific individual.

Which is, of course, why there is no such thing as paid cover. Because we’re not covering a job, a party, a point of view, we’re talking about an individual.

At which point now let’s set up something truly interesting. Say that we do all decide to go mad and change our minds. What happens when an election is called in the middle of such maternity leave, paid cover? Do we not have an election in a constituency where the MP is on maternity – or paternity – leave? Something like the Speaker’s constituency where the form is not to directly compete?

Do we make it something more formal?

Or do we just go, ah, well, that’s tough innit? If you the individual can’t get out there to collect the votes for you as an individual then there we are? Actually, given that Stella’s going to be on the TV screens for the next few days talking about this we offer that up as a question for an enterprising interviewer to ask.

What does Ms Creasy think should be the arrangements for an MP on maternity leave in the event of an election? For absolutely every argument she is deploying about how unfair the current system is applies there too. So, what should the system be?

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