When One MP Meets Another

FAMILY’S CHILDREN’S EDITOR MARTHA PEARSON CHATS TO MP FOR PENDLE ANDREW STEPHENSON

CAN YOU EXPLAIN EXACTLY WHAT AN MEMBER OF PARLIAMENT (MP) DOES?

“The entire United Kingdom is split up into 650 different areas, each area is called a constituency and each constituency is represented by one MP. So there are 650 MPs – MP stands for member of parliament – and we all come together in London and we decide the laws of the land and how the country is governed, how much money we spend on things like schools or parks or a whole range of other public services. Our job is to represent local people in the area we represent but also to play a part in that national role of deciding on the laws of how we are governed.

HOW DO YOU BECOME AN MP?

“You don’t need any special qualifications, you don’t need to go to university, you just need to put yourself forward in a general election.”

WHAT’S A GENERAL ELECTION?

“In a general election everyone over the age of 18 can go to their local polling station which is normally at the local school or church hall and they put their cross on the candidate they want to become their MP. In Pendle I have been elected four times now. I was first elected in 2010 and re-elected in elections in 2015, 2017 and 2019 and each time everyone had to go to a polling station and put a cross next to my name or someone else’s name. It’s a bit like standing for school council and having your classmates vote for you by presenting your ideas. My job is similar to that although rather than convince a small class of people who I can speak to individually, I have to represent thousands. I represent 80,000 people so I get out and meet as many people as possible across Pendle and say why I’m the best person for the job. I also post leaflets through people’s door to tell them about our good ideas and why they should support me.

WHAT ARE YOU DOING IN PENDLE TO HELP THE PLANET?

“We’re doing lots in Pendle to help the planet. At the moment I’m working with the council to plant 1,000 extra trees just this year, we are trying to ensure we have better tree coverage in Pendle than we currently do. I’m also working with the Woodland Trust to improve our local recycling rates and I’ve been speaking with the county council to install more electric charging points for electric vehicle. We’re looking at how we can install more charging points and therefore make things easier for those who want to go green. There’s lots of different things happening in Pendle on the environmental front, but there’s also lots more to do because we still aren’t living very sustainably so we need to all play our part to make the world a better place.”

HAVE YOU EVER MET THE QUEEN? IF SO, WHAT IS SHE LIKE?

“I have met the Queen, she’s absolutely lovely and she’s very small. I’ve had the pleasure of meeting her Majesty the Queen on a number of occasions. I held a role in government, I was the Vice Chamberlain of Her Majesty’s Household and I had to take messages from the House of Commons to the Palace and get her Majesty to sign them. So I would go to see her Majesty fairly regularly. She is absolutely incredible, so well informed and knowledgeable, her service to this country is an example to us all. I’m a huge fan. It was a huge privilege to met her because so few people get an opportunity to do so.”

WHAT IS BORIS LIKE?

“He is exactly the same in private as he is public. His hair is even crazier in real life. He is a character, really engaging and personable to talk to. He has lots of funny stories. He is a more thoughtful man than he is sometimes given credit for, but sometimes the preparation for his speeches are funnier than the speeches because he thinks of things that he could say and everyone in the room says, “You can’t say that!”

DOES HE HAVE A HAIRBRUSH? IF NOT I HAVE A SPARE ONE HE CAN HAVE.

“I will pass that on to him. I think he needs a better hairbrush. I question whether he actually has one at all.”

WHAT FOOTBALL TEAM DO YOU SUPPORT?

“I was brought up a Manchester City fan and I’m still a Manchester City fan. I admittedly haven’t been to see them for a long, long time. I support Burnley as well but I wouldn’t claim to be a Burnley fan because I’m not born and bred here. I was a City ticket holder back in the days when we didn’t win anything. The moment, they won our first silverware in 30 years I gave up going to matches. So I’m probably more of a Burnley fan these days!”

WOULD YOU LIKE TO BE PRIME MINISTER ONE DAY?

“I don’t think so, it’s a job that I have huge admiration for anyone who is Prime Minister, I don’t think I could take that level of responsibility, that level of scrutiny and that level of intrusion in my personal life. The Prime Minister can’t go anywhere without body guards so huge admiration for Boris. I don’t think it’s something I’d want to do myself.”

QUICK FIRE ROUND

What song do you like to dance to?

“It would probably be something absolutely terrible, like, ‘Barbie Girl’… that song would be before your time!”

If you could be anyone for a day, past or present, who would you be?

“Winston Churchill.”

Where in Pendle is your happy place?

“At home in Colne, when the work is done and I can put my feet up. I particular enjoy the winter months when it’s cosy.”

Yorkshire pudding or Lancashire hotpot?

“Yorkshire pudding.”

Ketchup or brown sauce?

“I’m odd, no sauce.”

Do you have gravy?

“Of course. Chips with gravy or curry sauce but I’m not a red or brown man.”

Red or blue?

“Blue!”

Family Spring 2022