ELECTION night was a nail-biting and tense time. We had a recount on the first count and the final result did not come in until 8.15am. The next morning I went for a walk to clear my head and as I was walking down Queen Street in Morley I was stopped several times by constituents congratulating me and even giving me hugs. It was then that being their MP finally came home to me.
Three days later I was on a train to Westminster to begin my new journey. All the newbie 74 Conservative MPs met for a photo shoot and it was great to see lots of familiar faces from the campaign trail. There is already a huge sense of camaraderie between us and it is lovely to be part of these exciting times. We were then greeted by an allocated House of Commons buddy, who is there to support you on your first week. This was very useful for practical reasons alone as Parliament is so vast I have lost count of the number of times I have got lost!
Entering Parliament as a new MP is both exciting and, at times a daunting experience. To say I had butterflies on my first day is an understatement. I know it is cliché but walking along the same corridors as great MPs like Winston Churchill really makes you stop and think about the history of this place and I feel truly privileged to be a part of it.
On the first week we had several training sessions, had a tour of parliament and met the Whips. Over the years there have been so many stories about government whips and the supposed little black book of juicy information that they have regarding their MPs, but I have found them incredibly pleasant and helpful. Each whip is responsible for a number of MPs; I had a one-to-one with my own whip and at the first meeting I wanted to make it clear that there are some policy areas that I could not support, such as the repeal of the hunting ban.
Later that week the 2015 newbies were invited to 10 Downing Street and the Prime Minster gave a great speech about the importance of getting the right balance between working life and family.
A lot of time in the first few weeks is spent catching up on correspondence. In my first three weeks, I had over 1,500 pieces of correspondence. Speaking to other MPs I discovered we had a shared frustration in that we are all finding it incredibly difficult to get on top of all the letters and emails as you have no team of staff and no office place.
By week three I was allocated an office; and I discovered the former occupant was George Galloway, who had left behind a clock from Pakistan. The office is a decent size, fitting three desks in and a table and chairs, and I have a window, which I understand can be something of a luxury. Last week my office manager, Alex, started working for me and my senior case worker, Nick, started at my office in Morley.
I am incredibly relieved to now have some team members; I want to ensure that I have more staff in my constituency office in Morley as I want it to be open six days a week so my constituents can just pop in.
I am also looking into offering an apprentice scheme to one of our local school leavers. This Government has done great things regarding apprenticeships, creating 2.2 million since 2010, and helping young people gain the necessary knowledge and skills is something that I will be working hard on over the next five years.
The State Opening was very exciting and my name had come up in the ballot so my Mum could come and watch the procession. The quirky, sometimes antiquated, unwritten rules in the Chamber are what I find very interesting; such as if you want to intercept when someone is talking you have to ask the person to give way and move your folded arm to and fro several times.
I have asked a health question regarding a Morley and Outwood constituent, Abi Longfellow, who needs a new drug to allow her to have a transplant. My first question was regarding surgical site inflections in hospital – something you will be hearing a lot more from me about.
At Prime Minister’s Questions last week I was chosen to ask a question. I received a great cheer when Morley and Outwood was mentioned, so great it knocked me off my stride and I embarrassingly fluffed some of my words.
I have been busy meeting constituents and we had a great turnout at one of our street surgeries. I also visited a dog show in Morley and attended a community picnic in Outwood Park. I have been receiving a wide variety of case work issues from constituents over the last few weeks, from potholes to Abi Longfellow and the unfortunate case of a constituent losing his wife and saving Joseph Priestley College. I want to be a strong Yorkshire voice in Westminster.
Andrea Jenkyns is the Conservative MP for Morley and Outwood.