They are our elected MPs, giving local people a voice in how the country is run. But what do our politicians get up to on a day-to-day basis during their time in parliament? Press reporter James Morris recently spent the day with Dewsbury & Mirfield MP Paula Sherriff in the capital, to experience a little bit of life as an MP...
I travelled to London on the day the Chancellor Philip Hammond announced his first budget, so Westminster was perhaps busier than on a ‘normal’ day.
When I met Labour MP Paula Sherriff, she was preparing to meet members of the Kirklees Youth Council, who were visiting parliament for the day.
She was joined by Kirklees councillor Baroness Kath Pinnock (Lib Dem, Cleckheaton), with both politicians talking to the students about their roles. Mrs Pinnock sits in the House of Lords.
During the day, there was also a number of events and celebrations to mark International Women’s Day – a particularly important day in Miss Sherriff’s calendar, as she is the Shadow Minister for Women and Equalities.
I was shown around the Houses of Parliament by the Dewsbury MP, who admitted it took some time to get used to her new place of work.
“I was like a kid on their first day of school when I started here,” she said.
“It does take some getting used to and even now I sometimes take a wrong turning, but the majority of people here are really helpful and show you where to go.
“The full-time staff here are very friendly and always point you in the right direction.
“We spend a lot of time here – I don’t think a lot of people realise just how much. Sometimes we can be here until 1am if there is a long debate.”
As we walk around the halls and pass through the stunning Westminster Hall and Central Lobby, a number of fellow politicians and workers greet the Dewsbury MP, offering perhaps a friendlier view of politics than that we see in the media.
“Inevitably there are going to be some people you get on with better than others,” she said.
“There are some Tory MPs who I get on with very well. I don’t necessarily agree with their political views, but that doesn’t mean I don’t like them as people.
“In the same respect, I don’t get on with every Labour MP who works here.”
Miss Sherriff then had to leave to take part in Prime Minister’s Questions and then the budget announcement.
On leaving the House of Commons she described the budget as “unremarkable”.
I was then shown around the small chapel hidden just off Westminster Hall, and it is here where a book of condolence in memory of the murdered Batley & Spen MP Jo Cox is still open.
“It is so strange to think that we were here with Jo last year celebrating International Women’s Day and now she isn’t with us,” said Miss Sherriff.
“A lot seemed to change when Jo was killed.”
Other events were held to mark Women’s Day, including a group photo of all the current sitting women MPs.
Miss Sherriff said: “I do love my job. It isn’t for everybody admittedly, as it is very much a life, not just a job.
“But it is so rewarding being able to help people and really feel like you are making a difference, even if it isn’t something that seems particularly big.”