How did Keith Vaz rise the heights of Parliament? Watch
As I said, how did Keith Vaz rise the heights of Parliament? I watch him as the chairman in the scrutiny committees of politicians, he's rather pompous and I don't think his questions are very good.
The problem is that long serving MPs are mostly those in safe seats. Vaz's seat is extremely safe, being in an area with large numbers of Asian immigrants, who (though this is a generalization obviously) tend to favour Labour, as well as large numbers of 'traditional Labour voters' that is, low income people who vote Labour because they've always voted Labour. As such, the seat has only gone Tory once since 1979 (when it was first contested in its current form), and that due to a split in the traditional Labour vote between the previous Labour MP standing for the Social Democrats and the new Labour candidate, and Vaz has enjoyed majorities in excess of 10,000 votes at pretty much every election he's contested.
This means that the MP's essential quality is not the ability to convince the electorate that his ideas are best, but their ability to convince their constituency party members that they are the best salesman for said ideas. Sadly, being clever is not necessarily a requirement in this case.
It happens that Vaz's constituency is close to another good example of this phenomenon on the other side of the house, with one David Tredinick, a tory safe seat occupier who has held his seat in a largely rural white middle class area of leicestershire (hence, tory safe seat) since the same election which Vaz came in on, despite being as mad as a brush. He's made speeches advocating the scheduling of operations to take advantage of the healing powers of the moon, and demanded we spend more on homeopathy and supports the use of astrology in medicine, yet is still somehow chairman of a health committee and a member of the science and technology select committee. He's been caught taking bribes, fiddling expenses and tried to vote himself out of the freedom of information act, yet somehow remains in place.
This is one of the tragic problems with a constituency system where people only vote on party lines. You could put a monkey up for election in many constituencies and have it win provided you got it the right coloured rosette.