October 2019 Dinner Briefing

Date: 10 Oct 2019

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Former MP Andrew Bingham on life in Parliament and the role SME’s play

As one of the top locations for new business start-ups in the UK, Milton Keynes’ economic position within the country is rapidly increasing. Integral to this success are small businesses who are, according to ex-MP, Andrew Bingham, ‘the engine room of the economy’ – a phrase later pillaged by PM at the time, David Cameron.

Speaking to people from across Milton Keynes’ business community at an MKBLP event last week, the former MP candidly shared anecdotes from his time in Parliament. From the impact representing his constituency had on his personal life, to his relationship with the media and the conduct within the House of Commons.    

During a seven year tenure which ended in 2017, Mr Bingham represented High Peak in Derbyshire, and held positions on several Government committees, including Work and Pensions, Culture Media and Sport and the European Scrutiny committee.

Representing the area of his birth and childhood; “the final count in 2010 was held just 200 yards from the hospital where I was born - not something every MP can say,” evidently brought Mr Bingham the most pride. Helping his local community, from discussing recycling issues to assisting getting a child with learding difficulties into school he readily admits that: “the privilege of having done that job is something I will never take for granted.”

The need to protect local people was rooted within Mr Bingham during his 20 year career running a ‘micro business’ prior to becoming a Member of Parliament: “I was forever conscious that I had six or seven people relying on me to help pay their mortgages.” Having left school with just 2 ‘O’ Levels, Mr Bingham, a self proclaimed ‘wage earning’ MP, is testament to the system that someone with his lack of education can get into a Parliament which is no longer full of the social elite.

However, the enormity of the responsibility of having a seat on the green benches of the House of Commons was often brought home. Particularly when Mr Bingham rebelled, along with several other MP’s, against the Government’s 2013 motion to vote on military forces in Syria. “MP’s certainly don’t have the power they think they have but they do have one thing in common-to try and make things better for the good of the people.”

On losing his seat during the 2017 General Elections, a day Mr Bingham readily acknowledges was, ‘the worst day of my life,’ he revealed how he was personally targeted by an online hate campaign. “It brought out the worst side of politics, and, when you lose your seat, it’s like ripping up your diary – life as you know it just disappears.” He referenced the greater need to help former MP’s get back into work.

While losing his job in such a public manner brought a maelstrom of emotions, Mr Bingham’s reflections on his position as a Member of Parliament were full of pride. From light hearted accounts of sharing chocolate with David Cameron in the House of Common’s canteen to sharing a pint with members of the opposition – a sight which flummoxed his local constituents. “We may disagree over policy but some of my best friends in the Commons were members of the Labour Party.”

A documented ‘leave’ campaigner, Mr Bingham steered the conversation away from Brexit, stating that the conflict is polarising people and greater tolerance is needed.

When asked whether he misses Parliament he replied with a resounding……yes.

The event, which was held at the Holiday Inn, Central Milton Keynes, was closed with a vote of thanks to Andrew Bingham from Freddie Guilmard of the Red Thread Partnership.