Anne Begg MP, says get involved in politics!


Women’s Parliamentary Radio






May 22nd 2009


Anne Begg MP, Vice Chair of the Speakers Conference tells how voters can help reform  Parliament and MPs expenses

The Labour MP for Aberdeen South, Anne Begg, says she’ll be out campaigning in her Constituency over the coming weeks to advice people that if Parliament needs reforming then they need to sign up to a political party to do just that!

 Anne is a formidable politician herself, being the first wheelchair user in Westminster, and the Vice Chair of the recently instituted Speaker’s Conference which is looking at the under representation of women, ethnic minorities and disabled people in the House of Commons.

 She is also a member of the House of commons Chairmen’s Panel, and stands in for the Speaker in the Westminster Hall debates.

 She said: “The fees office was not checking MPs expenses in the way that we thought it was doing. We thought there was a checking mechanism there but there clearly wasn’t.

 “We now need proper professional accounting, proper professional scrutiny and I think we need external scrutiny. The irony in all of this is that whenever anybody from the outside has looked at the wages and conditions of MPs they have always come up with a more generous settlement not a worse settlement.”

  Anne says the way to overcome the dismay about politicians and their expenses is to get involved in a political party yourself and begin the process of change that is needed.

 She continued: “Despite everything that has happened in the last two weeks we still need a party political system, we still need a candidate to be selected through the political parties and there needs to be mechanisms, not just warm words, to try to get more women in, more ethnic minorities. We need hard and fast mechanisms that will actually increase the numbers and the diversity of the candidates they are putting forward.

 “Political parties need to reform. The Labour Party did well with All Women-Shortlists, but there may be other mechanisms too, to enable a range of different types of candidates to be presented to a constituency party.

 “We also need reform based around what an MP does, we are all very different, and we need a clearer definition. But one of the things we have picked up with the Speaker’s Conference as we travel around the Country, is that people do not know what an MP does or how you get involved in a political party. We need a lot more of the education around that.

 ”We have to stop thinking that party politics is a dirty word. I wrote an article about this saying “you have to join a political party”, but if you don’t join a political party if you don’t get involved you won’t get selected.”

 Anne Begg MP expressed dismay at how some MPs had acted but said this was not all of them by far:

 “It is difficult for my colleagues at the moment, people are upset about the coverage, it has been taken out of context and it is very difficult to fight back. At the moment it is very difficult for us to be collegiate, we should come together as a collective and stand up for each other, we are taking the battering, because some of our colleagues have done things they should not have done.

 “There is no clear sense of severity here they are all severe, no sense that sometimes these are perfectly legitimate expenses, and you can read anything into any of them.

 “We are shell shocked at the moment, and hopefully we can get out there and fight for the Parliament that we all love.”

 Ms Begg MP said she would be out campaigning in her constituency:

 “The only way I know how to react is to get out there and knock on doors and speak to people one by one and I will carry on with my case work doing each case individually.  I can’t deal with the deluge happening above my head, so I can only carry on doing the job that I thought I was elected to do. I will be knocking on doors next week because it is Whit week.”



wpradio goes to the Cartoon Musem with Maggie



May 8th 2009 interviews Lord Baker and the cartoonist Steve Bell about the legacy of Margaret Thatcher at the Cartoon Museum “Maggie, Maggie, Maggie”.

Is Margaret Thatcher the “Mother of the Nation” or the “Monster from the Blue Lagoon”? That’s the question The Cartoon Museum in Bloomsbury, London, is asking from 6th May to 26th July with an exhibition of satirical cartoons of Britain’s first woman Prime Minister 30 years since her election.

It features work by Steve Bell, Gerald Scarfe, Trog and many others for newspapers and magazines across the political spectrum. The cartoons reflecting her 11 years in power, were chosen by Steve Bell of the Guardian and one of her former trusted ministers, Lord Baker of Dorking. Clearly they find it hard to agree about her legacy but the exhibition brought out the humour in both of them.

In a 20 minute programme podcast recording Boni Sones, Executive Producer of, began by speaking to Lord Baker and then Steve Bell. In their spirited and lively “ding dong” over the legacy of Margaret Thatcher, Lord Baker, says: “She was remarkable she was undoubtedly the most successful peace time Prime Minister we have had in the last Century. To begin with I was rather cool about Margaret, but I was one of those who came to like her more and more, and as I was getting to like her more and more there were quite a lot of the real Thatcherites moving away from her and quite a lot of the Thatcherites did her in.”

While Steve Bell retorts: “What it can’t really convey is the full pain of living under Margaret Thatcher …it was the sheer agony, if you were opposed to Margaret Thatcher it was murder three general elections on the trot with Thatcher, then one with John Major, it was hard to take and it was relentless. It wore you down, and you had to find solace in symbolic attacks.”

Together Lord Baker and Steve Bell chose 100 cartoons across the media reflecting her 11 years in power and they had: “great fun, I enjoyed it very much,” said Lord Baker. Steve Bell said ”it’s been a fascinating exercise”. But surprisingly Lord Baker says: ”Margaret never looked at the cartoons ever, she never watched “Spitting Image”. When you are a very strong personality you don’t worry about what others say about you, she never looked at them, she was so confident.”

 Both Lord Baker and Steve Bell agree on their favourite cartoon: Charlie Griffin “How’s That!” and the cricket ball being bowled at Margaret Thatcher by Sir Geoffrey Howe, published in the Daily Mirror when Howe made his famous resignation speech in November 1990.

Steve Bell said: “It gave me a thrill of pleasure to see it”. “It’s a very vivid good cartoon that one”, said Lord Baker. You can find out more at: