The role of the backbench MP is more important than ever

By Rebecca Lury

Monday 13th December

As Pagefield launches its new annual report ‘Backbenchers: the real powerbrokers?’, Pagefield Partner Rebecca Lury writes about the importance of those MPs away from the frontbecnches.

We are proud of our industry, and the important role that campaigning plays as a tool for change. Over the last 10 years, we’ve helped up-and-coming disruptors become household names – like taking Starling Bank from a fledgling challenger to 2 million customers – and taken on more serious reputational challenges, such as exonerating those accused under Operation Midland.

So we’d like to think we have a pretty good handle on what makes a good campaign but, just as importantly, who helps to make a good campaign.

And in the best traditions of our democratic history, it’s not a role that is consigned to the elite. Local and grassroots action groups, businesses both small and large, and even a single dedicated campaigner can all deliver excellent campaigns that deliver real change as long as they have passion, persistence, dedication and the courage to stand up for what they think is right.

With our new report ‘Backbenchers: the real powerbrokers?’ which we are launching today, we are recognising a specific group of political actors who we think play a pivotal role in our democracy. Some of the public may struggle to name more than ten backbenchers (they may struggle to even name their own constituency MP), but MPs are the link between the people and their Parliament; without them, under-the-radar causes, potentially not glitzy enough for the limelight of Whitehall or Fleet St, would never get a hearing.

The diversity of the cast, from the parties they hail from to the constituencies they represent, reflects the diversity of what they’ve achieved.

Whether making the case for stronger devolution; making important amendments to the Domestic Abuse Act; reversing a prorogation of Parliament; leading a fan-led review of football; standing up for mothers in Parliament; lowering the maximum stake of fixed-odds betting machines to £2; these MPs have shown the influence backbench campaigns can have, and the tangible difference they can make to improving both public policy and people’s lives.

It exemplifies how backbenchers, with their ears to the ground of their constituencies and with the time to make a noise, are critical to good political campaigning. At a time when political discourse and trust in politicians is at a sad, but not surprising, ebb, we must remember the admirable work of many who have stood up for those that need standing up for.

Without MPs dedicated to standing up for those without the voice or resource to do, so many important changes to laws and regulation – simply outside the purview of people in Westminster but nonetheless important to millions of people’s lives – would not be achieved.

We want your help in celebrating the important role that these backbenchers have played. So we’re asking you to read our report, here, and vote for your ‘most influential backbencher’ who we will crown in early 2022. Voting is open from today, Monday 13 December, until Friday 7 January. You can vote online here.

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