There’s so much to a life in politics

Jackie Harrison, who lost members of her family to Huntington's Disease travelled to London to celebrate the launch of the All Party Parliamentary Group for Huntington's Disease. 'Pictured with Calder Valley MP Craig Whittaker'8/07/10
Jackie Harrison, who lost members of her family to Huntington's Disease travelled to London to celebrate the launch of the All Party Parliamentary Group for Huntington's Disease. 'Pictured with Calder Valley MP Craig Whittaker'8/07/10

THERE is a lot of pressure being the MP for the Calder Valley but Craig Whittaker is taking it all in his stride.

He was elected in May, 2010, and, almost 18 months on I wanted to know how he was handling the job. What follows, he assures me, is a fairly typical day.

It started with a breakfast business meeting at the Rock Hotel, Holywell Green, where the main topic of conversation was education and apprenticeships and how employers often felt students left school with no social skills and reading and writing was poor.

It was then back to the office for three surgeries before I got the chance to quiz the MP about how his job was going.

“I worked pretty hard before the elections. I had a full time job, I was a local councillor, and a full-time dad. That all took a lot of juggling. Now I have one job but I have never worked as hard but in a very different way.

“You are very conscious of how many people you are going to let down if you make the wrong decision or you can’t get an outcome for them. But I get immense satisfaction from the job.”

I was about to see just how he dealt with pressure as he was questioned by 170 pupils at Brighouse High School before talking about his new charity Together for Looked-after Children (TLC) on Phoenix Radio in Halifax.

He promised that he would be taking the plunge himself to raise cash for TLC, which involved abseiling down the side of the former Sugden’s Mill later this year.

We were back on the road setting of towards Wainstalls School where they were campaigning for a bus to take youngsters to Calder High. I took my opportunity to ask more about what it was like in Westminster.

“I didn’t enjoy the Westminster initially but it was very much a steep learning curve. Thirteen months on it still is but things do make a lot more sense and on the back of that I’m enjoying my job much more than I did at the start.”

After a quick photocall the time was nearing 5pm but the working day was far from over.

We had a ‘Meet Your MP’ evening where there were around 30 people all waiting to give Mr Whittaker a close questioning.

I sat and listened to the number of questions which revolved around education, the economic crisis, the localism bill and the banking crisis that was having such a detrimental effect on jobs in the area.

What I had noticed was just how much ground we had covered throughout the 12-hour day and how Mr Whittaker had to start all over again the day after.

I didn’t envy him.