A week certainly is a long time in politics
By Samantha Wilding.
7 June, 2020
If a week is a long time in politics, as Harold Wilson once said, God only knows what he would have made of the past ten days.
The political world is having to adjust quickly, in unprecedented circumstances. Prime Minister’s Questions is now restricted to only those MPs listed on the Order Paper. Select Committee sessions are being cancelled. Many parliamentary staff are working from home. Some medically trained MPs are returning to the NHS to help. A number of MPs are self-isolating – Guido has a running list if you’re interested - and the BBC has reported that a ‘small number’ of Downing Street staff are also doing so. Lord Speaker Fowler has taken himself off to work from home on the Isle of Wight. (Jeremy Corbyn, on the other hand, has told PoliticsHome that he will continue to go to Parliament despite being in a high-risk group – make of that what you will.) All this in the context of a Government under tremendous pressure to respond in a fast-moving environment.
Like many who work in public affairs, I’m an extrovert, and I find working from home difficult. I love the buzz of the office; sitting alone in my kitchen with intermittent calls and Skype meetings just doesn’t come close to actual social interaction. It’s hard to believe that just over two weeks ago I was launching our joint report on silicosis with the All Party Parliamentary Group for Respiratory Health. This week I have my first meeting Zoom meeting with a parliamentarian. How things have changed, and will continue to change. Ultimately, will this crisis reset how Westminster and Whitehall work in the long term?
I’d love to hear your thoughts.
Samantha Wilding is Secretary of the CIPR Public Affairs Group and Public Affairs and Stakeholder Engagement Lead B&CE, provider of The People’s Pension.