At the weekend one of my colleagues, an SNP MP, claimed that she hated being an MP. She found the work tedious, felt she had not accomplished anything and disliked many of the people she had to work with. I am sorry that she feels this way: everyone should do a job they love. And I am also sorry that adds further discouragement to people considering running for office.
There has been a lot of coverage of the stresses Members of Parliament face; the abuse people endure on social media, physical threats to their person and the personal toll of long hours and time away from family. I am very aware of these concerns having been the victim of such abuse which resulted in an individual receiving a criminal conviction, and my late colleague Jo Cox being murdered.
These are issues which do need to be addressed but they are not a reason to not run for office. I think there is now a greater understanding of these issues and MPs are better protected and supported than ever before. But what is not often said is that being an MP is an amazing job, whether you are a backbencher or frontbencher. Not a day goes by when you do not have the opportunity to achieve something for somebody.
Sometimes these are small things; getting a constituent the cancer drugs or helping someone's business; and sometimes they are big things from changing the law to shaping the future of our country. In the course of a week you meet amazing people in your constituency and from all over the world who are inspirational and give you energy and hope. It is an immensely fulfilling role and I never forget what a privilege it is to do it.
My message to my unhappy colleague in this privileged position, and to all those who have a desire to serve their communities as an elected person, is that if you have this desire chances are it be good at it, and would find it fulfilling. I would encourage people with such ambitions. Parliament, local government and public positions are not diverse enough. We need to encourage more people from different backgrounds to step forward and run for office. As well as supporting them and protecting them from the negatives, we all need to be more vocal about the positives.