Shocked is an understatement when I read various statements from Hazel Blears this week about interns and jobs for the boys. I never once expected to read sense for someone who spent her entire tenure in cabinet talking nonsense. A sight she first experience with a Cabinet containing ministers who have become the very political class that the House of Commons was set up to avoid, including James Purnell and Ed Milliband.
The halls of Westminster are filled with unpaid interns who turn up to help the various political members as their first step to becoming a full time politician. However the only realistic way for someone to live in London for a year of unpaid work is to having someone paying for you, usually the bank of mum & dad. The majority of the population can’t afford to have such a position. This is also missing a step out, for all the interns there have been hundreds of applications if the position is even advertised. So often the position is merely a step up from a friend or relative who is already in a position of power and influence. This doesn’t encourage a ordinary person to want to get involved in politics.
This week sees the launch of the Speaker’s Parliamentary Placements initiative. A scheme that has been set up by Hazel Blears, that’s the same expenses swindling MP, who has now found her moral compass and wants to help others to reach the same levels of access as the privileged few. This scheme will see applicants from working class backgrounds apply to become a recruit to work under an MP. The fund will see 12 recruits take a position that is funded primarily by the Social Mobility Foundation (£150,000) and the House of Commons (£25,000) and the recruits will be paid the London Living Wage £8.30 an hour.
I see this is a this first small step to get access to all for the junior roles in the Houses of Parliament. It is good to see all the political parties joinging in on this scheme and hoepfully the practice will become an accepted norm.
Also maybe we can see if Nick Clegg will also be paying interns at Lib Dem HQ.