Learning from Recovering MPs
I've recent finished reading Confessions of a Recovering MP by Nick de Bois. For those of you who don't follow British politics as enthusiastically as I do, de Bois served as a Conservative MP between 2010 and 2015, not making much of an impression on the public but better known in the Westminster Bubble due to his work with the influential 1922 Committee.
As you might guess from my forays into Westminster politics with Valerie and Amy, our legislators fascinate me and I read books from all sides of the political divide to get the inside scoop on what goes on within the corridors of power. Since I'm monumentally unlikely to ever end up walking those corridors, I rely on writers like de Bois to convey the atmosphere and mechanisms of life in Westminster.
Confessions of a Recovering MP is a different animal to many of the political books I've read, focusing on the perspective of a one-term MP who is (retrospectively, at least) acutely aware of his tiny majority throughout. It depicts the occasional pointlessness of life as a backbencher and the way local politics clashes with the national, often in a nonsensical way. For someone focused on how a single MP copes in the ecosystem that is Westminster, I found de Bois's book incredibly useful as I work on the third novel in the Valerie Series.
Even as I disagreed with some of his opinions, I found myself learning so much about process from de Bois. His interactions with colleagues, staff and constituents are insightful and hilarious, definitely fitting with the idea that MPs are considered to be glorified community workers as much as legislators. The interplay between local work and the expectation that you'll be in Westminster at the call of the party whips is something most constituents don't appreciate, but it's a crucial element of understanding how politics in the UK works.
So, what does the future hold for Valerie Smythe as she continues her political journey? I wish I could tell you. But it's a political secret.