A Day in the Life of an MP
This article was featured in the Citizen in 2013.
RICHARD Graham describes himself as an “accidental politician”.
But there is no doubting his passion for Gloucester and a personal drive to see the city grow into a prosperous and desirable place to live.
I spent a day with the Gloucester MP in Westminster to get a flavour of his daily routine.
It proved a good day to visit the Houses of Parliament, with Richard in buoyant mood after hearing his campaign on behalf of Tredworth widow Mandy Stock had been an overwhelming success.
He asked a question of the Prime Minister a little over four weeks ago in the House of Commons and David Cameron and Justice Secretary Chris Grayling are to look again at the sentencing of disqualified drivers who cause death on the road.
The victory was hailed by Richard as “a strike at the heart of those who choose to flout driving laws, and a celebration for constituents”.
With a team of one full-time and three part-time assistants and case workers in Gloucester, he is ably supported in London by Caroline Emery.
“The workload seems to have gone up since email access has become more widespread,” she said. “It is easier now for people to contact their MP than ever before. The email inbox is always full with casework and campaigns.”
A hit-list of current priorities include tackling delays to completion of the new passenger lift at Gloucester station, funding for a new pinch point to relieve traffic chaos at the C&G roundabout, several ministerial visits, proposed reforms to the Education Act and Mandy Stock’s cause.
Richard’s office is cramped, decked out with wood panels and decorated ceilings overlooking Parliament Square.
His immediate neighbours include a host of Welsh MPs, local government minister Eric Pickles and Sinn Fein. Although Sinn Fein leader Martin McGuinness rarely attends Parliament, to have a former IRA militant in the office above is a true sign of modern day democracy.
Richard started his working day with a foreign office ministerial meeting chaired by William Hague. He also saw Lord Green in his role as the PM’s Trade Envoy to Indonesia.
His latest minor calamity is losing the keys to his ‘Cherry and White’ bike he rode from Gloucester to Parliament for charity – it remains locked up outside the Ministry of Justice after his recent meeting with Mr Grayling.
There is no doubt Richard is a well-known face around Parliament and a popular man among his peers. I was introduced to a host of cabinet members, Paralympic icon Dame Tanni Grey-Thompson and Andrew Mitchell – star of ‘Plebgate’.
Richard rarely pauses for breath during his hectic schedule and races around Parliament as if his trousers are on fire. He sorted me a front-row ticket for PMQs and settled down for a session of verbal jousting in the Commons bear-pit.
Richard also hopes to have Gloucester Brewery’s ‘Cherry and White’ ale introduced as guest beer into the Strangers bar in the Commons. He is pressing for 36 gallons of the tipple for the bar to promote Gloucester’s new and only brewery. It is expected to last four days.
I left him after a meeting with the Indonesian Ambassador to discuss export opportunities and a discussion with the Chancellor on Budget issues.
He is working hard for an exciting future for Gloucester and I believe the city appears to be in safe hands