National and Local politics from a Liberal Democrat from Gillingham, Kent
Tuesday, 8 November 2011
Where is Rehman Chishti MP?
Am seriously worried about Reh?
Last week a fake Twitter account for the Gillingham and Rainham MP Rehman Chishti appeared and began tweeting on all sort of topics. It was annoying for two reasons. One was that I had half written a blog (which is salvaged in this one) which I then had to scrap and eat a certain amount of Humble pie. The other was that within a week it was proved to be false and deleted and I was one of the 100 suckers who had signed up to follow him and had even tweeted to him on policy.
So, to resurrect my original blog post!
The Gillingham and Rainham MP, Rehman Chishti has almost ceased to exist in local memory since his election last year.
I'm not casting aspersions on his work in Parliament AND Medway Councillor where he represents Gillingham and Rainham in Parliament and Rainham Central. He also sits on the Parliamentary Committees for Protection of Freedoms bill, The Draft Defamation Bill and the Joint committee on Human Rights!
However his footprint in Medway is quite small. The Medway Media have often mentioned Tracey Crouch MP for Chatham and Aylesford and Mark Reckless the MP for Rochester and Strood but Rehman has only had one notable mention recently.
Indeed on this Blog, which sometimes commentates on the local news and the comings and goings of Medway's MP's has mentioned Mark Reckless 8 times, Rehman Chishti 7 times and Tracey Crouch 10 times.
Also the other MPs have a Twitter feed. Mark Reckless (@MarkReckless- who coincidentally follows me.) has a feed that generally tweets news and says that he cannot always respond to individual tweets.
Tracey Crouch's (@Tracey_crouch) is a lot more personal, she tweets updates on her parliamnetary work, daily life and even the U14 girls football team. In fact as a comparison I have tweeted and emailed and received replies from Miss Crouch about a local issue (mainly because I found it difficult to contact Rehman Chishti that contacted Miss Crouch in the first place. I was not expecting a reply and was most grateful that she did respond even though I am not one of her constituents!!!). A former Libdem Councillor told me that he had no problems dealing with her office and would also receive Emails from her personally.
They found Rehman Chishti's office a little harder, only ever getting interns or no replies. The same must be true for members of the press as I have seen on a few occasions that the local press have been unable to gain a response from him on certain issues including the creation of a false twitter account.
I have also heard that personal appearances have petered out since the election, I obviously can't personally vouch for that though. It is rumoured that he will turn up to a venue for half an hour and then slope off if the crowd is not responsive or indeed hostile. I have noted that in his letter to me regarding Southeastern trains that he appears at Gillingham and Rainham station during peak times to speak to commuters. I travel at peak times and haven't seen him yet...
Could this be down to a heavy workload? As a Councillor and an MP he must find it quite stressful trying to carry out so much work.
Then there is a cross over of interests. The last time I saw him in the press (before this week.) he was proposing to complain in Council about the Boundary Commission which has proposed the moving of Wigmore and Hempstead ( a strong Conservative area) to Tracey Crouch's Chatham and Aylesford constituency. His motivation was clearly because he, like the local Lib Dems, doesn't want to see communities rendered by arbitrary dividing lines. Not of course, by the fact that Gillingham and Rainham would instead cede Luton and Wayfield, a more Labour leading area, which will dent his majority and, as some commentators have suggested, force him to work for his re-election.
Who is to say?
If anything is Rehman suffering in the same way as the Lib Dems in the Coalition - beavering away and achieving things but getting no credit?
Maybe he should cut his workload and drop his Councillor duties, join Twitter or hire a decent press officer. His constituents would at least kno what he's up to and gain confidence from that, and would be more prone to re-elect him if he is being a good constituent MP rather than possibly cull him in an anti-Cuts/Tory swing in 2015.