David's Response to the Gary Scott letter

3 Jul 2008

I recently received a letter from a constituent, my reply to which gave rise to some publicity when he decided to release it to the media.

The general tenor of his letter was that he thought I was some sort of lobby fodder, unthinking, lacking in conscience, neglectful of my constituents etc., etc., I am sure you get the drift. Now, it is not unusual for MPs to get such correspondence and usually we try to deal with it sensitively.

My constituent raised two issues in his letter where he believed I had transgressed the boundaries of civilized behaviour;

  1. He said that I should not have voted to support the government on the 42 days' for suspected terrorists.
  2. I should not have supported the government's attempts to crack down on violent pornography.

Whatever else might be said about this I don't think I can be accused of being out of touch with my constituents on these two issues. My constituent has lived in Gateshead for two years however, and has in that time apparently been able to canvass the views of the whole population on these and other issues and felt able to tell me what they thought and where I was going wrong.

Had he left it there, despite the general unpleasantness of his letter, I would have replied explaining where I believe he is wrong - not least in his analysis of public opinion on the issues concerned.

However, he went on to say the he would be 'watching my voting record' and if I did not behave better and vote in the way he felt was acceptable I could "kiss (his) vote goodbye".

Well, that is when the Geordie in me came out and I told him he could stick his vote where it pleased him most as I did not want him on my side.

There is a view of course that MPs should just put up with this sort of thing and not rise to the bait - mostly that is the course I follow. However on this occasion I resented his tone so much and his arrogant, unpleasant, lecturing and chest-prodding manner that I decided to hit back.

He says I am not representative of my constituents - after all I have only lived in Gateshead for over 60 years - but I believe that the people who are my neighbours, my community and my voters, spoken to in the same manner, would have done exactly the same and many of the communications I have received since bear that out.

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Promoted by Ken Childs on behalf of David Clelland, both of 19 Ravensworth Road, Dunston, Gateshead. NE11 9AB