Five tips for those appearing before MPs

With Philip Green’s appearance before The Business and Work and Pensions select committees today our Head of Public Affairs Michelle Di Leo offers five tips for those wanting to stay on MP’s good graces.

  1. Pay your respects.  Even if you think the members of the Committee and its Chairman are on a par with pond life, treat them with the respect they think they deserve.  Treating elected officials with contempt is never a good look.  Being dismissive or argumentative simply gives the Committee something to get their teeth into and makes it much easier for them to look like the Peoples’ Champions.
  2. If you think they are out to get you, they probably are.  Recognise that the Committee members will want to demonstrate that they are holding you to account on behalf of their constituents and the general public. That’s their job. Your job is to deny them the headline they need to prove it.
  3. You don’t have to have all the answers, but if you do it helps. Prepare. Prepare again. And then prepare some more. You should know the answer to every question the Committee could ask you and be comfortable with the answer you are giving. If you don’t know the answer, the answer is not to obfuscate or avoid answering. The correct answer is to offer to write to the Committee with full details.
  4. It’s better to be boring than cute. Unless you want a headline, don’t give them one. Don’t spend ages crafting a reply that sounds good. Spend ages crafting a reply which answers the question and no more.
  5. Don’t use more words than you need to. MPs can filibuster, witnesses should not. If you look like you are wasting time to avoid having to answer questions, it’s a red flag to a Parliamentary herd of bulls.

Michelle Di Leo, Head of Public Affairs