Star date: 10th February 2011 


Yesterday, Salford MP Hazel Blears helped launch, what she called, "a new programme of paid internships, offering working class people the chance to work in Parliament and reverse an increasingly elite culture in Westminster".

Very noble. But in December an advert appeared on a Parliamentary website for "a highly motivated individual with a keen interest in politics and current affairs to work in Hazel Blears MP's Parliamentary Office in Westminster". The pay? Er, there wasn't any…

Full details here…

"There is a real danger that the political class is losing touch with the realities people face" Hazel Blears MP

In a tirade against the narrow social backgrounds of those involved in Parliament, yesterday Hazel Blears launched a new Speaker's Parliamentary Placements programme, offering "working class people the chance to work in Parliament and reverse an increasingly elite culture in Westminster".

Run in association with the Social Mobility Foundation the idea is to get working class people into `internships', which are basically work experience placements.

At the moment the vast majority of internships, working for MPs or in the House of Commons, are unpaid. This means that only people with daddy's wads behind them can afford to apply. Yet internships are becoming one of the main routes into politics, making it, as Hazel rightly says "even more exclusive".

Writing on the Labour List website, Hazel argues that the career "often begins with someone working as a parliamentary intern straight out of university, before taking a job as a researcher or a Special Adviser, and then standing for election.

"In 1970 only 3.4% of MPs had previously worked in politics; this has now risen to 24%, and now a political job is the most common occupational background that MPs have been involved in before entering parliament" she adds "I am particularly concerned about the predictable social background that can be found behind the majority of those on the first step of this journey – parliamentary interns."

The `donor funded' Speaker's Parliamentary Placements programme to start later this year, Hazel says, will help give "youngsters from working class backgrounds a chance to get a foot in the door".

In the meantime, an advert appeared in December (see here) on the W4MP website -  `the site for everyone working for an MP' – for "a highly motivated individual with a keen interest in politics and current affairs to work in Hazel Blears MP's Parliamentary Office in Westminster."

The advert gushed "The position is a great opportunity to gain political experience in a dynamic environment, and will involve a wide range of activities…"

It was categorised under the Voluntary Placements section and the pay was…well there wasn't any…

"The position will be unpaid, although reasonable expenses will be refunded."

Actually, the pay might have been quite good after all, judging by Hazel's past record of "reasonable expenses"





m pogson wrote
at 21:29:48 on 15 February 2011
Why dont you all get off your lazy backsides and get a job why do Salford people drown in there own self pity get of the MPs back at least she works for a living instead of relying on benefits the same benefits that my income tax pays for we can all campagne when weve got sweet fa to do all day. Bravo Hazel keep up the great work take no notice of these worthless wonders and scroungers
Nachtschlepper wrote
at 11:55:25 on 15 February 2011
The FACTS are there, an ad for an unpaid job & then a campaign to make that voluntary job a paid position. OK there is some editorial content in there but that is not unusual. If you think it's crap writing then don't bother reading it. I still think you need to calm down though.
jim devine wrote
at 19:06:17 on 14 February 2011
"Youve reached for the secret too soon, you cry to the moon "..
Richard Carvath wrote
at 19:06:07 on 14 February 2011
I'll tell you what grown ups do... they don't hide behind silly bloody pseudonyms. How can anybody take seriously people who don't have the courage to identify themselves in debate? It's pathetic. (And next time have the courage to face all of the other candidates on the hustings, not just the HP Toryboy and the well-past-it Lib Dem Kid).
Tickle wrote
at 17:09:56 on 14 February 2011
So I take it from that you've no actual argument to come back with? Sorry Nacht but grown-ups usually debate the facts rather than resort to irrelevant insults when they run out of decent arguments. If you can't do better than that it might be best to say nothing. Cheers (btw @Tickle is not me, it's someone else. I'm not that far gone that I'm arguing with myself)
Nachtschlepper wrote
at 16:00:13 on 14 February 2011
Somebody obviously has far too much time on their hands & is very uptight. Relax, lie down in a darkened room, play some pink floyd, get laid, but do something to calm down.
Tickle wrote
at 12:43:58 on 14 February 2011
And if you bothered to read my other comments before replying, you would see that I've already acknowledged that MPs have a staffing budget. Keep up. Even if Blears had somehow been able to pay for interns out of her salary, staffing budget and expenses allowance (highly debatable, but I've already covered that), how would that help any of the thousands of other potential interns that still wouldn't be able to work for free for other MPs? It wouldn't, but this scheme will. This misguided idea of hypocrisy is wilfully missing the point, to satisfy the collective dislike for Blears.
@Tickle wrote
at 07:38:38 on 14 February 2011
If you bothered to put those wandering fingertips of yours to better use than talking rubbish, you would have discovered that MPs have a staffing allowance (i.e. expenses - which DOES NOT come out of their salary). Bliars claimed in excess of £20k of this according to the most recent data available. This did not come out of her salary. Surely you must be capable of realising the hypocrisy of her position? "I want people who work for me as Parliamentary interns to be paid - but I am not prepared to pay them myself. Not even out of my allowances." There is no discernible honour in protesting about economic exploitation when your solutions always involve somebody else (in this case, the tax payer) picking up the bill.
Tickle wrote
at 19:02:46 on 13 February 2011
The supposed hypocrisy is NOT a fact, it's an interpretation - one that comes from a distorted viewpoint. The only facts in this story are that Hazel Blears advertised to recruit an unpaid intern (as per the system in Parliament at the time) whilst at the same time trying to change that system, which she seems now to have done. What I want to know is what point Stephen thinks he's making by juxtaposing these two facts. No, I don't work for Blears. It's a laughable giveaway of your mentality that you automatically think that I might do, just because I don't see things in the blinkered black and white way you do. I've never even voted for her, I don't think she's a very good MP. To be quite honest, she strikes me as a bit of a div. I'm not defending her, I'm just pointing out that this is crap writing and shoddy journalism, that people deserve better than. Please try and understand this. I'm able to see facts for what they are and not allow the facts to be coloured by my dislike for her, and consider there may be practical reasons that she didn't do anything about it until now, before condemning her for not doing it the way you think she should have. I bet none of you had even considered this issue until this story. MPs make £65,738. To employ an intern at a reasonable salary for them to be able to work in London, an MP would have to pay them at least a quarter of their own salary, which would be an unreasonable personal sacrifice for them to make for the sake of employing one intern. I'm not even going to answer the absurd idea that she would somehow be able to employ someone out of expenses. Pathetic. Why bother commenting in a local, independent news source if you're not going to rise above the level of discussion that you find on the MEN website? Look, if one of Hazel's political opponents* doesn't take the clear opportunity to make easy political gain against her, doesn't that tell you something? That the way this story has been written up is junior-level tabloid bollocks. * I refer to the non-mental political opponent in this discussion
Nachtschlepper wrote
at 12:14:51 on 13 February 2011
On the amount Blears rakes in in salary & expenses I'm sure she could find a few quid to pay some poor sap daft enough to work for her. You wouldn't happen to work for her would you Tickle? As for reporting the facts, what do you think this story does? It reports Blears helping to launch a scheme & the hypocracy of her expecting people to work for her for nothing.
Davey Boy wrote
at 12:14:47 on 13 February 2011
Blears ? Just another shite , self-serving MP parasite.WE NEED MORE DENNIS SKINNERS .
UoS wrote
at 07:05:15 on 13 February 2011
I can't believe there are people on here defending Bliars. Surely the problem with her attitude is that she was perfectly willing to complain about the problem but she was not willing to risk any of her own money (or even any of her very generous expenses for the employment of staff) to solve it. It's one thing to fight against something, it's quite another to risk your own resources (or in her case, your own expense accounts) to do anything about it. Like virtually everything the woman has ever said (look up her voting record on TheyWorkForYou - she has voted the way her party leader has told her to virtually without exception for the past 14 years), this strikes me as a load of hot air.
Sol wrote
at 07:03:25 on 13 February 2011
Will Chunky bars be provided free ,as part of the Internship ?
Richard Carvath wrote
at 17:16:29 on 12 February 2011
I don't know about paid internships - except that I've never had one and never will. I do know that last year I attempted to arrange a 10 minute meeting with my MP, Hazel Blears, at her constituency office, and she simply was not willing to meet with me under any circumstances. [The details of this are in a PDF called "How to Avoid your Constituents" on my main website archive.] I also know that despite all the hurdles and all the disadvantages it is still possible for a person from a working class background and without a university degree to win a seat in Parliament; I'm going to do it (and others will too). I believe that people not from the 'professional political class' often make the best politicians - not least because they have lived the ordinary life and triumphed over adversity before they win a General Election contest, and that's a great starting point for the privilege and responsibility of representing the people in Parliament. As for this article by Kingston, I think it's OK myself; whatever Hazel Blears' roots may have been, she has long since become a very wealthy professional politician completely divorced from the real world; Hazel should be in jail now - not in Parliament; remember and never forget the Kitkat Chunky bars this wealthy woman thought were a legitimate expense for her to claim in 'representing' some of the poorest people in the country - you couldn't make it up!
David Henry wrote
at 08:41:41 on 12 February 2011
How do I apply? :-D David Henry (Hazel Must Go! Parliamentary Candidate 2010)
Tickle wrote
at 08:41:14 on 12 February 2011
Stephen, do you really mean to say that it's hypocritical to admit that there's a problem with the institution you're part of, and then successfully do something to fix the problem? Jesus H Christ. Stephen... do you expect people to take the Star seriously when you're so blatantly disinterested in reporting issues is a balanced way? Please answer this: Why don't you just present the facts and give people enough credit to decide what they think about it, instead of crowbarring everything you write about into your warped agenda? Believe me when I say: people already hate and distrust the council, their MPs, the Uni, GMPTE, the BBC, and the government. All you achieve by reporting 'for the people of Salford' in this way is making it harder for people to have a proper understanding of what is going on, and from doing something about it for themselves. I guess you've probably heard all this before, but someone has to call you on it, in a place that your readers will read it.
Stephen Kingston wrote
at 14:41:01 on 11 February 2011
See Steve Middleton comment below... It's called hypocrisy - but let's not even go there with the Lib Dems eh?
Steve Middleton wrote
at 14:36:57 on 11 February 2011
Like all the other commentators on this posting, I'm unsure of the point of your article Steve. I would be the last person to defend Hazel Blears, but you've basically criticised her for doing something right (where there are so many other things she is doing wrong/not at all that you could criticise her for). Steve - remove this article, it's utter crap.
Tickle wrote
at 11:30:32 on 11 February 2011
Nacht, how would you suggest she could have paid an intern, before the launch of this scheme? MPs have a limited staff budget, which presumably is not enough to cover an intern on top of paying her permanent staff. It's not like MPs are businesses with an income stream to pay for extra staff. What she has done seems to address this problem. I'll reiterate that I'm not a fan of her, I just like to see fair and thoughtful reporting, rather than tabloidesque reactionaries masquerading as the voice of the people. http://www.parliament.uk/about/working/mp/
at 09:39:42 on 11 February 2011
Im not very good at anagrams, this is the nearest I could get Jim : "Flipping expenses she loves".
jim devine wrote
at 07:34:50 on 11 February 2011
Slightly off topic but it reminded me of an ironic old anagram "Communities Secretary Hazel Blears" -> "I'm the sleazy Cabinet's moral rescuer?"
Nachtschlepper wrote
at 07:34:43 on 11 February 2011
Is the issue not bleeding obvious? If Blears is that bothered about "working class people" working in parliament then why did she not pay a living wage to any potential interns?
Tickle wrote
at 18:24:22 on 10 February 2011
Please explain to me what the issue here is? Hazel Blears has identified that unpaid internships are a problem, and is doing something about it by launching this scheme, to change the situation. She's only just getting it off the ground, so until now interns working in Parliament, including those working for her, have been unpaid. I'm no supporter of Blears, but it seems like in this situation she can't do right for doing wrong. Are you really suggesting an advert posted two months ago that contradicts this NEW scheme means she's lying now? That it's all a ruse or something? Get a grip, please.
Salford Star wrote
at 14:03:00 on 10 February 2011
See Stand Up For The Truth comment below...Actually Hazel's office contacted us this morning at 8am with that info asking us to `correct' the article. We wrote back and asked them to clarify whether the advert we sited (with a link) was not real or true. So far they've not been back with a reply. So the article stands and anyone can view the advert via the link above. So sorry, Mr Truth, we stand by it until proved otherwise.
Stand up for the truth wrote
at 13:55:53 on 10 February 2011
This must be a mistake, says Alan Mcglone...and yes it is. A simple bit of research by Salford Star would have confirmed this. Check this post on Twitter by Internaware Internaware: Hi, thanks for getting in touch. We've spoken to Hazel Blears' office and they've confirmed their intern is paid the Living Wage. 1 day ago via web
Int P wrote
at 11:44:27 on 10 February 2011
No surprises here. So remind me why Bliars and all the other 'Nu Labour' lot even bothered passing the Minimum Wage Act, if they're going to be the first ones to circumvent it?
alan mcglone wrote
at 11:44:15 on 10 February 2011
If this is the case, I can't help but think this is a case of hypocrisy and lack of integrity by the MP and disrespect for the voters. There must be a mistake, tell us its not true Hazel
Guy Fawkes wrote
at 09:55:15 on 10 February 2011
Just more meaningless garbage spouting from' our peoples of salford ' champion.The entire gang of MP trough-wallowers ,wasters ,fiddlers ,cheats and liars must be investigated and prosecuted with the same zeal used to investigate benefits cheats.The corruption of the majority of the MP scum is not going to be forgotton .What a sick and corrupt hellhole Wasteminster is .PASS THE MATCHES...Then we'll sort the local councils out .
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