Let common sense prevail: should MPs job share?

Mike Cassidy argues that MPs should be allowed to job share to make parliament more representative.

At the 2013 TUC Disabled Workers conference the CSP delegation proposed a motion asking the TUC to support a campaign run by Disability Politics UK.
The purpose of the campaign is to change the law to allow MPs to job share in order to open up politics to disabled people and carers who may not be able to work full time. After all, if the UK parliament was representative of the population there would be more than 60 disabled MPs. At present, just a handful have a registered disability. The motion was passed and the campaign has continued to grow in size and profile.
Fast forward two years and the Green Party recently bought a case to court requesting a judicial review of the decision not to allow Claire Phipps and Sarah Cope to stand as the party candidate in Basingstoke on a job share basis. 
The two candidates planned to share one parliamentary seat as Sarah Cope is a single mother of two young children and Claire Phipps has a disability. They argued that a job share arrangement would allow them to contribute fully to politics and their constituency.
CSP supporters of the case were present at the Royal Courts of Justice and were extremely disappointed when the judge dismissed the claim and refused to allow a judicial review. 
The CSP will continue to support the ongoing campaign by Disability Politics UK. Job sharing is now common practice; we know that thousands of CSP members benefit from flexible working arrangements but that their employer also benefits from retaining skills and having a more diverse workforce. Having a wider set of perspectives and experiences to draw on leads to more robust decision making.
Parliament is currently far from representative of the UK population in terms of gender, ethnicity and disability. If it is serious about improving this then removing barriers to participation is essential. Allowing MPs to job share is a common sense option and a good start.
You can support the Disability Politics UK campaign here
  • Mike Cassidy is co-convenor of the CSP disabled members network.

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