MPs: Having it all?

Hannah ThompsonYouGovLabs and UK Public Opinion Website Editor
August 14, 2012, 3:24 PM GMT+0

58% Brits say possible to lead normal family life as well as work as MP, as Mensch triggers debate

Almost three in five people believe that it is possible for somebody to do a good job in the role of a Member of Parliament as well as leading a normal family life, our poll shows, while just over two in five say that the hours that MPs work are actually not long enough.

The results come in light of on-going debate surrounding politicians' working hours, time spent in constituencies, and former Tory MP Louise Mensch's high-profile resignation last week due to family commitments.

  • The majority of Britons (58%) think somebody can lead a normal family life at the same time as doing a good job as a Member of Parliament
  • Just under one third (31%) disagree, saying one cannot lead a normal family life at the same time as doing a good job as a Member of Parliament
  • And while 31% think MPs work about the right amount, 43% think MPs' working hours are not long enough, compared to just 8% who think that MP’s work hours that are too long

Family vs 'full-on' job

The results come in light of the debate over whether 'having it all' is a desirable or possible state for an MP – and working parents in general ‒ in response to the resignation of well-known Conservative MP Louise Mensch. Mensch, whose family includes a husband who lives and works in New York, resigned last week amid claims that she personally can no longer balance her family life with her political commitments as a high-profile MP.

It seems that MPs generally agree that the job is 'full-on', with Nigel Evans MP explaining the job as: "24 hours, or as long as you are awake," while Labour MP Dame Anne Begg explains that there's no such thing as a 'typical' week.

Controversial departure?

Commenting on the issue in the Evening Standard, Labour MP Stella Creasy was keen to highlight that Mensch's resignation wasn't a gender issue, saying "For a lot of my male colleagues I’m very conscious they have to make some tough choices about how they spend time with their children. It’s equally important to them as some of the women. None of this is about gender, it’s about family."

However, perhaps mindful of the by-election commotion triggered by Mensch's departure, Shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury Rachel Reeves pointed out that the Corby MP had left rather quickly.

"It’s disappointing that somebody walks away […] in the middle of the Parliament. You get elected for five years, you know what [you're] signing up to," she said.

See the survey details and full results here