Amazing guy, that Nick Clegg.
Writing in the Sheffield Star, the multi-tasking Lib Dem Leader and erstwhile Deputy PM says he has still found time as a local MP to deal with “38,000 pieces of casework”.
As any MP’s staffer will attest, that’s quite a claim.
Let’s be generous and suppose what he really means is that he’s dealt with that many cases over the 10 years he’s represented Sheffield Hallam. This works out at 3,800 cases each year.
Disaggregated over 365 days, this averages out at ten cases a day. Every day. For ten years.
Now let’s assume he and his staff don’t work every single day of the year.
Taking away weekends, Bank Holidays, Christmas and annual leave entitlements means there’s about 250 working days left (okay, that’s a bit on the high side, but let’s again be generous to him).
So now the figure climbs to 15 cases a day.
Again, let’s assume he has two caseworkers out of the £129,000 he claimed for his office staffing costs last year. That’s 7.5 cases dealt with by each caseworker, every single working day of the year.
And over the course of an average working day, this means dealing with a case an hour.
But what does ‘dealing’ with a constituents’ case generally involve?
It usually means meeting a troubled/angry/desperate constituent at a local surgery, or spending half a morning dealing with a rambling phone call, or poring over indecipherable handwriting, or wading through a densely-argued email before getting to the nub of the issue.
Then it involves writing on their behalf, often hitting the brick wall of officialdom (or the steel and glass wall of corporate indifference) while seeking a response.
It doesn’t end there. There are usually meetings with officials, site visits and even public meetings to follow.
All of which is to point out that MPs’ casework is often a slow, drawn-out process.
So is it uncharitable to point out that Clegg’s grandiose claim seems somewhat, well, implausible?
If we give him the benefit of the doubt, then it’s clear from their uber-efficiency that his office should have been put in charge of single-handedly rolling-out Universal Credit.
Or, perish the thought, could it be that Clegg’s just a fibber?