David Maddox: Heat is on for MPs as Westminster critics appear more than eager to toast absent friends

WITH the furore over the petrol crisis and David Cameron getting muddled up over his pasties it has been hard to tell that MPs have actually gone on holiday or recess as they prefer to call it in Westminster.

For many of them there will not be much time sunning themselves on beaches. They will be knocking on doors and trying to win votes in the upcoming council elections up and down the UK.

However, there has been some grumbling going on that certain MPs have in effect been on holiday for quite some time now as far as their appearances in Westminster are concerned.

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Much has been made of the former Labour Prime Minister Gordon Brown’s alleged sulk about being chucked out of Downing Street by the electorate and he has a wretched voting record of just 16.3 per cent since the last election.

However, his voting record in 2012 is not much different to that of the SNP Moray MP Angus Robertson, who has the title of Westminster leader for his party but apparently is not in London much to lead.

Mr Robertson, according to Labour, has missed around 70 per cent of votes since the new year and on the TheyWorkForYou site has a voting record of just 39.18 per cent since May 2010, but anybody who follows him on Twitter will know why it is so low.

Essentially, he is touring Scotland holding independence referendum events, perhaps not surprising considering that he is head of the party’s campaign.

Mr Brown, meanwhile, is often abroad delivering speeches and seminars. Labour have been muttering about Mr Robertson as the SNP, Tories and Lib Dems have all been poking fun at Mr Brown.

“Is this why the voters of Moray/ Kirkcaldy have elected him?” is the oft asked question of the two men these days. “Don’t they expect their MP to be working for them in parliament?”

There is no doubt that people expect their local MP to stand up for them and ask questions for them, although this is awkward for ministers.

But do people really expect their MPs to be hanging around in parliament as voting fodder?

After Eric Joyce’s recent antics they probably think MPs are little better than hard-drinking bar brawlers when they are in Westminster anyway.

Interestingly, people are far more impressed when they see their MP in their constituency than when they are in parliament.

Anybody who voted SNP in Moray might actually not be too surprised that Mr Robertson is not in parliament but touring Scotland promoting independence.

But on the other side there is a lot of often dull work for MPs in parliament, usually unglamourous committee meetings, votes, correspondence, raising questions which has to be done which is why the absentee MPs often draw anger from their colleagues.