In May 2015 life changed dramatically for 182 British people and their families, when they were elected Members of Parliament in the General Election. We asked MP Kirsty Blackman, MP for Aberdeen North, how her life has changed since the election, and what it’s like to be an MP.
Members of Parliament are known as MPs. We work at the House of Commons in Westminster, underneath Big Ben. MPs are elected at General Elections. These are held every 5 years and the most recent one was in May 2015.
Anyone who is British and over 18 years can vote in a General Election. People vote for the candidate they would like to represent them. The candidate with the most votes in each area is elected and becomes the MP. I was elected to represent Aberdeen North as I had the most votes.
Usually, candidates are members of political parties. There are quite a few political parties in the UK. The ones with the most MPs are the Conservative party, the Labour Party, the Scottish National Party and the Liberal Democrats. Each political party is a group of people who have similar views and similar plans for how they would like the UK to be run. Sometimes this makes it easier for voters to choose who to vote for – many people choose the candidate who represents the political party they like best.
My Work in Westminister, London
Now I have been elected I have a very important and busy job. There are two main parts to my work. The first is the work I do in the House of Commons. Here, MPs decide how to run the country. MPs decide how much tax people and companies will pay, and how much money will be spent on schools, roads, libraries, hospitals, fire and police services … and all the other things needed to run a country.
We do this by having big meetings and debating the issues. There are 650 MPs and we each have a vote on whether or not a certain policy should happen. MPs from the same party usually feel the same way about how to vote. The party with the most MPs just now is the Conservative party. They have more MPs than all of the other parties put together. In the House of Commons this is called a majority. If a party has a majority then they can put through new laws and make decisions about spending much more easily.
My Work in Aberdeen
The second part is the work I do in Aberdeen and for people in Aberdeen. Each MP’s area is called a constituency. I represent all those who live in my constituency whether they voted for me or not.
People who live in Aberdeen North can contact me or my staff to ask for help with their problems. It might be a small thing only affecting one family or it might be something big which needs to be fixed to help the whole community.
I can try to help people by speaking to their local council or contacting the Government. Sometimes I can solve the problem. Sometimes I can’t. My job is to try.
If you look in the parliament website, you can find out who your MP is. If there is an issue or problem you feel strongly about you can write to them and let them know. A good MP will listen to the people who live in their area and will help anyone who asks for help.
The Best and the Worst of being an MP
The best thing, is getting to meet so many different people with so many different stories to tell and hearing about their experiences, their hopes and their concerns.
The worst thing is all the travelling. London is so very far from my home and I miss both my family and my city terribly when I’m away.
I’m sure a lot of people would talk about things like the public speaking as being negative or difficult times. I have done a lot of giving speeches so am not too worried by that. The amount of reading is hard though. I have had to very quickly become an expert in a huge number of things. It is worse than I remember university to be, because the topics are so diverse. To begin with I was really tired because I was trying to learn and do too much. I have learned to pace myself and to say no to things which has helped.
Find out more about the politics here