The Case for More MPs
The late Bernard Weatherill told me that between 1964, when he entered the House of Commons, and the late 1980s, his constituency duties increased twentyfold. It's one of the reasons backbenchers spend less time arguing and being difficult in the chamber than they once did. When Tony Blair had a large majority he put Labour members on a rota for extra constituency duties. Reducing the number of MPs will only make the situation worse: David Cameron's Commons-slighting venture cringes to populist prejudice. Yet as the recent Murdoch-grilling showed, a committee of backbench MPs can still make creditable difficulties. To discourage them, Louise Mensch has already been slashed at by the red-tops; perhaps Tom Watson and Chris Bryant will be redistributed. Nothing about recent governments suggests that the problem has been rank and file members (of any party), but they make an easy scapegoat.