Is Labour's parliamentary candidate for stevenage trying to do too much?
LABOUR S prospective parliamentary candidate for Stevenage, and current leader of Stevenage Borough Council (SBC), Sharon Taylor, is seeking re-election as a borough councillor as well as standing for MP in the elections on May 6. I have mixed views about
LABOUR'S prospective parliamentary candidate for Stevenage, and current leader of Stevenage Borough Council (SBC), Sharon Taylor, is seeking re-election as a borough councillor as well as standing for MP in the elections on May 6.
I have mixed views about this unusual move.
On the one hand, if Ms Taylor is elected to both seats, what better way for her as MP to keep abreast of the issues in the town and of the concerns of the residents she represents than to be a councillor as well?
At various junctures, the interests of an MP and of a councillor must overlap, or at least complement each other, so in this way Ms Taylor's intentions make good sense.
A local politician with a national voice is appealing, and it has to be said that Ms Taylor is used to juggling different roles - she is currently leader of SBC and leader of the Labour group on Herts County Council (HCC), for instance.
But I wonder if Ms Taylor's desire to become both Stevenage MP and a borough councillor is a step too far, not least because she also intends to retain her position on HCC.
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Surely being an MP, or at least an effective one, is a full-time job. After all, many MPs - including Stevenage's former MP Barbara Follett - have justified having a second home in London because of the long hours they work in Westminster. Ms Taylor, incidentally, has vowed not to have a second home if she is elected MP, meaning time regularly commuting from Stevenage to London would have to be factored into her busy schedule.
I am concerned her plans, if realised, may result in her being over-stretched and spreading herself too thin, leaving her unable to deliver the effective service she envisages.
Should she be elected to both seats, as well as complementing each other, there will be times when Ms Taylor's roles will conflict - when meetings clash, for instance. With the best will in the world, she can't possibly be in two places at once.
There is also a nagging possibility that Ms Taylor is standing for both seats because she is not convinced she will be elected to parliament.
If this is the case, a prospective parliamentary candidate who lacks self-belief is hardly inspiring, particularly now, when faith in politicians is at an all-time low in the wake of the expenses scandal.
*THE Comet is giving readers the opportunity to quiz the prospective parliamentary candidates for the three main parties for Stevenage in a bid to dissolve uncertainty surrounding the upcoming elections, and which way to vote.
Ms Taylor will be joined by Stephen McPartland (Conservative) and Julia Davies (Liberal Democrat) in The Comet's Question Time event in the main hall of Stevenage Arts and Leisure Centre on Wednesday, April 21.
This is a golden opportunity for readers to find out more about the parliamentary hopefuls and their policies.
On May 6, you will make a choice. Make sure it is an informed one.
Doors to the free event open at 6.45pm for a 7.30pm start.
Visit www.thecomet24.co.uk to register your interest and to submit a question which could be asked on the night.