The Politics Show
1) Doing a review of MPs' pay and expenses in two weeks was a pretty tall order, are you glad you took on this mission?
Jude: Yes. But we have just scratched the surface, we have not had much time to get to the bottom of the issue and other issues were raised. But it is not brain surgery and I have no regrets.
Bob: Yes, its not often a member of the public gets a platform like this, to have a look a closer look at the MPs we usually only see them via the TV. It's been enlightening, we see little snips of these people and I've never spoken to an MP or some of the movers and shakers we've met for more than twenty seconds in the past, so having that opportunity and to listen to their views was eye opening.
Margaret: Absolutely - I actually did not think that I would ever be bothered to do it, but the second the opportunity came up I thought yes! It is definitely the research side I enjoyed, not the telly side. I have no regrets, but would have liked more time.
2) What was your highlight and why?
Margaret: Oh it has to be meeting Heather Brooke - (the freedom of information campaigner) because of the people we interviewed, she was straight from the heart and had the best points going, I learnt what you can do if you open your mouth when you find something out.
Bob: Two highlights first Heather Brooke, I was so impressed by the dedication she's got to freedom of information and the hoops she's had to jump through to get what she's got and to keep going, you don't often see fighters like that. She is a real believer.... Fantastic.
And Kelvin Mackenzie, (former sun editor) he made me almost think like an MP, I can understand how paranoid they might feel with a media like the one Kelvin represented sitting just behind them on their shoulder that impacted the way I thought about MPs a lot.
Jude: I don't know if I have had one. No huge revelations. I think Peter Luff and his wife was very interesting, it was good to get an MP's wife/secretary's perspective, a good insight into their life and the impact of being an MP on their family. I think that it highlighted the fact we don't know what the role of an MP is.
3) What was the most difficult part of your task?
Margaret: Too little time to actually spend on the brief, very frustrated by that, but can't do much about that and I wanted more time with the politicians. I wanted to have long discussions and arguments with them because they are so smooth tongued and I think I could have given them a harder time.
Bob: Well the MPs came across as human beings and I couldn't lay into them how I wanted or expected to. It was very hard to actually be "Paxman on steroids" with any of them, either they charmed you or they said nothing objectionable.
Jude: We haven't had a chance to get our teeth really stuck into things, obviously constraints of making tv make it difficult.
4) You all had different views when you started out on your journey - how did you all get along?
Margaret: We are very different, and came from different angels, there always has to be a compromise. None of us pulled our punches but it was a team effort. If we had three individual reports they would not be the same, but would be quite close to what we finally produced.
Bob: It had its moments, it was very intense at times. When we came down to making our list, our recommendations, it actually came very easily, no matter what point of view we came from originally. We pretty much agreed on everything.
Jude: When you put three very different people into a room it's hard work and frustrating at times. But I think you have to try and come to a consensus of agreement which we managed to do, it was pretty miraculous since we started off with very different views.
5) Did you have to compromise?
Margaret: Not that much I sort of reached for the stars with all my points I wanted to make, I think I made the biggest compromise on the way we consolidated pay. Right from the start I realised that was going to be the sticky one.
Bob: Yes salaries, I was surprised I compromised. Didn't compromise on much else.
6) What do you feel you have achieved?
Margaret: We hope we will get enough publicity to generate interest from the general public. I also hope it helps MPs to appreciate they are not self-employed, they are employed by the voters. That is the biggest thing that has to come out of it.
Bob: I hope the review will take our recommendations up, in particular I want them to enthusiastically transparency - that is the trade off for their increased pay.
Jude: My biggest fear is that it would just be sound bite stuff and we would get on message robot politicians saying "thanks that is food for thought" and then nothing else. That is still my biggest fear, what I would like is to be invited to take part in the review and discuss our recommendations.
The Politics Show Sunday 18 May 2008 at 12:00 GMT on BBC One.
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