Lots of controversy in the news at the moment about George Galloway, the far-left MP currently competing on Big Brother. The Guardian tried hard to find out who was dealing with constituents’ issues whilst George is busy being on the telly,* but could only get hold of his PR agent, who said she couldn’t really help.
Given that whilst he’s on Big Brother he can’t really be carrying out his day job of attending to Parliamentary business, I wondered if there’s anything in the parliamentary rules that specifically says you have to be available and contactable. The MPs’ Code of Conduct says:
Holders of public office should not place themselves under any financial or other obligation to outside individuals or organisations that might influence them in the performance of their official duties.
However, I’m not sure if this covers Mr Galloway’s antics. For one thing, although I’d think he could hardly be carrying out any official duties at the moment, “prevent” is hardly the same as “influence”. Moreover, this isn’t actually a rule. It’s merely a General Principle, which “will be taken into consideration when any complaint is received of breaches of the provisions in other sections of the Code.”
The only rule in the Code which might be cover “going on a game show for up to three weeks” is “bringing the House into disrepute”. Which, of course, is a catch-all clause which could cover virtually anything; it’s entirely down to the Standards and Privileges Committee‘s opinion. It seems that, as far as the letter of the law is concerned, there’s no problem with what Galloway is doing.**
* and is out of contact with the outside world, of course.
** and I have no idea of who to complain to if there was.