Calder Valley MP Craig Whittaker answers your questions and shares more about life as an MP

Between the pandemic and partygate, there has been an increased interest in Westminster politics over the past few months.

By sarah fitton
Friday, 18th February 2022, 10:41 am
Updated Friday, 18th February 2022, 10:42 am

We asked Calder Valley MP Craig Whittaker to share more about his role and what a typical week for him involves.

Mr Whittaker, a member of the Conservative party, has been MP for the Calder Valley since 2010, winning four general elections.

He is currently on committees for five pieces of legislation and until recently he was a parliamentary whip - taking bills and statutory instruments through the processes of Parliament - a role he left for personal reasons.

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MP for the Calder Valley Craig Whittaker

MPs split their time between Westminster and their constituencies. Mr Whittaker often travels to London on a Sunday evening and then returns to the Calder Valley late on a Thursday.

While in Westminster, his diary as a whip would include bench duty. There has to be a Government whip sitting on the bench each day when the chamber sits. This is done a rota-basis.

There are also dozens of meetings, from bill committees to department meetings and briefings with his team.

When back in the Calder Valley, his diary is still incredibly busy, including over both Saturdays and Sundays.

As an MP, Craig Whittaker splits his time between Westminster and his constituency.

There are constituency surgeries to attend, visits to local businesses as well as charity events.

Mr Whittaker also hosts a live question and answer session on social media every Wednesday for constituents.

We asked readers to send us their questions for Craig. Here are his answers to some of the most popular and intereresting ones:

Why did you decide to get into politics?

Craig Whittaker in Parliament

“My initial brush with politics came when I was a young boy. My dad was a big union man and was also a shop steward for his union, so ‘politics’ has been around me all of my life.

“It was because of my dad that I had always been interested in politics and after being involved in our local community in Heptonstall when our children were younger, I served on

Heptonstall Parish Council. From there I served on Calderdale MB Council and then became the MP.”

What are the best and worst bits about being an MP?

“The best part of being an MP is when I’m out visiting schools, businesses and holding surgeries. You get to see the best of our community and can also make a real difference to those lives who come for help at surgeries.

“The worst part of being an MP is when we have to take decisions on whether to send young men and women to war. I know emotions get very high at these times but it is quite often because the burden of responsibility is huge.”

Who is your political hero?

“Sir Robert Peel. He played a central role in making free trade a reality and set up a modern banking system.

“He also repealed the Corn Laws, which were a great burden on the average household at the time as the price of grain in this country was kept artificially high to the benefits of landowners.”

How did you feel the first time you stood up to speak in the House of Commons?

“Nervous! Having spoken many times before in the chamber of our local town hall, I thought I would be ok but the reality is that it is on a completely different level!”

Would you even consider joining the Labour party?

“Never! I would walk away from politics if I ever got to the stage of being so disgruntled.

“To ‘Cross the Floor’ so to speak, is a cowardly act and ultimately one of betrayal to the people who elected you.”

What are your views on the length of time Park Road was shut?

“It is diabolical and a woeful example, sadly, of the poor level of service we have come to expect from our local council! What is more annoying for our people locally is that the council have been dire at communication.”

What is the Government doing to help people with rising energy prices?

“There is quite a lot of help from Government. There is the £500m Household Support Fund, The Warm Homes Discount worth £140, Winter Fuel Payments of £200 for our 11.4m pensioners and The Energy Price Cap which saves each household over £100 a year.

“This on top of cold weather payments, again supporting our poorer households when the weather is below zero degrees.”

What are your views on reports of Downing Street parties that allegedly broke lockdown rules, and should Borish Johnson resign?

“I think there is much to answer for however, so much speculation and guess work is also involved here that I don’t think we yet know the truth. That is why I have said that we should wait until the full report from Sue Gray is published so we can make an informed decision.

“Similarly, I don’t think it is democratic that 360 MPs take that decision. Having fought four general elections, I strongly believe it is in the gift of the British public to decide whether the PM stays or not.

“In my view, that isn’t the job of 360 MP’s in Parliament to decide whether a very successful PM stays or goes.

“Let’s not forget he achieved the largest majority in a generation at the last general election which was only two years ago.”

Who would you back as the next leader of the Conservative Party?

“I’m supporting the current Prime Minister.”

Is it a bap or a teacake?

“Sorry but definitely a teacake!”