Last November I wrote a series of posts asking Where is Rehman Chishti? and ultimately had to withdraw from my salient point (here) as his record in Parliament showed how hard he was indeed working for the people of Gillingham & Rainham.
I was happy to leave it at that. Even more so when I received a letter from his office dated 16th July. To explain; I signed the online petition regarding "Lords reform" *mutter mutter discontent...* and it sent a generic email to my local MP. I was expecting nothing from it or any communication just a fools hope that my MP might listen or be swayed by a plea from an interested party.
A few days later a Westminster headed envelope arrived and in confused apprehension I opened it and read the following;
Dear Mr Sams,
Thank you for your recent email regarding House of Lords reform.
As you are aware, all three major parties committed to reform of the House of Lords in their 2010 manifestos. This was reflected in the coalition programme for Government, which said that we would "establish a committee to bring forward proposals for a wholly or mainly elected upper chamber on the basis of proportional representation."
The House of Lords has many qualities that are worth preserving. It values the ability of Peers to take the long view, to provide an alternative perspective and to ensure legislation is of the highest standard. The reforms will ensure that the Government keeps what is good whilst allowing the people to decide who gets to act in their name.
You will therefore be pleased to know that I support the Government's proposals.
Thank you again for taking the time to contact me.
Rehman Chishti MP
I was shocked. It had been a generic email and hadn't expected a response.
I was disappointed (to say the least!) when the reform didn't go through but I felt buoyed up that my MP had voted for it.
Then I received an email from a friend who sent me the following link... go on have a look, I'll wait here...
It appears that Rehman didn't vote for Lords reform. In fact he hasn't been active in Parliament since 23rd May with a while off in April!!!
In fact his last question in the house was on Lords reform at Deputy Prime Minister's Questions on 22nd May;
Can the Deputy Prime Minister confirm that House of Lords reform was in the manifestos of all three main political parties, and does he agree that it is absolutely right and proper that politicians should now keep to their promise and enact this much-needed reform?
Which begs the question of what is he doing instead? After all that appears to be two months MIA.If I stopped going to work for two months they'd fire me and with good reason. The electorate would feel the same way. The primary function of an MP is to represent us, their electorate. That's what they're paid to do, that is what they are elected to do. Its not publicised that heavily now but you can bet your bottom Euro that Labour will pull it out of the bag in 2015.
I don't want to get all preachy and vindictive, after all there may be a very good reason for this massive absence, but I feel a little betrayed that I've been personally assured of support but yet when it was needed it was not there.
2015 is going to be a Very tough election for Rehman, especially if the boundary reforms go through and he loses typically Tory voters to a pro-Labour marginal seat with, if rumours are to believed, a fairly popular local former MP Paul Clarke waiting in the wings to stand again. He is NOT doing himself any favours by just failing to turn up to work for almost two months, right before recess!
I'm sure I don't have to reiterate that political opponents will be watching his record with interest.