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Westminster’s unsung heroes

Prospect and Octopus hosted MPs, their staff and colleagues to reward the work that goes on behind the scenes in British politics

Parliamentary Office of the Year Awards

It was cold outside, but the Speaker’s Rooms in the Houses of Parliament were decorated for Christmas and the champagne was flowing when Prospect joined Octopus to host the first Parliamentary Staffer of the Year Awards. Prospect was particularly delighted that the awards could be introduced by Helene Hayman, the life peer and former MP. In 2006, she won the inaugural election for the newlycreated position of Lord Speaker, standing down in 2011. As a veteran of both houses, Hayman spoke to the pressures of work in politics, particularly in what has been a turbulent period. Her thoughts were echoed by Lisa Townsend from Octopus; a former staffer, Townsend explained that she knew how much the contribution of parliamentary staff helps keeps parliament afloat.

Prospect’s Stephanie Boland, who presented the awards, agreed. At Prospect, we like to tell people that we work with politicians. But although it’s certainly true that we commission their writing, host them on panels, and do interviews with them, the truth is, about 50 per cent of the time it’s not the politicians we’re working with: it’s their staffers. They are the ones who answer the emails from an editor after hours, with that telltale “sent from my iPhone” at the bottom; they are the ones who juggle diaries and set up spaces for journalists to bring our Dictaphones and notebooks. It’s impossible to work on a political magazine without learning how hard staffers work.

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About Prospect Magazine

In Prospect’s March issue: Gaby Hinsliff explains why all sides of the Brexit debate feel like they’re losing. She says that the Brexit war has raged on for two and half years and disfigured British politics in the process, leaving Remainers in mourning and Leavers crying betrayal. Elsewhere in the issue: James Ball, Martin Moore and Barbara Speed examine how we should be less worried about the tech giants Facebook, Amazon and Google and more worried about the data they hold about us. Ball argues that breaking up these huge companies isn’t the answer; Moore asks what would happens when a tech giant wants to run a smart city, and Speed looks at the increasing trend of tracking everything in our daily lives from the amount of water we drink to how many notifications we receive to our smartphone. Also, Rachel Sylvester profiles Sajid Javid, the Cabinet minister positioning himself for the top job.