Tory ex-minister blusters – Firm Briefing 6

799px-Houses.of_.parliament.overall.arp_I’ve had quite a lot to do with MPs over the years and I don’t share the same low opinion of them that I often hear voiced by others.  It’s a difficult job and most of them do it reasonably well.

But, on the other hand, I’m certainly not in awe of MPs and whilst everyone deserves politeness they don’t deserve to be treated with kid gloves – they work for us after all.  Firm briefing!

I’ll share with you the interchange that passed between an ex government minister (and Tory MP) and one of the readers of this blog. I’ll not mention names. I’ll call the reader of the blog Rob (Reader of blog) and the MP I will call The MP.

Rob wrote to his or her MP in response to this post.

The MP replied with the standard Tory reply.

Rob responded with his or her personalised version of my suggested reply

The MP said that he or she would pass on the comments to Defra

Rob pointed out that the MP had not answered the question about not sending the briefing out to others because it’s inaccurate and misleading.  A good piece of Firm briefing!

The MP replied ‘I will use the same reply.  I didn’t have the energy to rebut the claims you made against my brilliant missive, but suffice to say I reject comprehensively the charge of inaccuray (sic)’.

Well, does that ‘suffice’?  I don’t think so.

As I say, it’s a difficult job being an MP but you are there to serve your constituents.  Was the reply above really serving the constituent?  Did it smack just a little of:

  • Yes I sent out these words but I really don’t know what I’m talking about so I’m getting out of this conversation right now?
  • Don’t you realise who I am? I’m not here to answer your very reasonable questions?
  • I’m not taking responsibility for these words and I know I’m out of my depth?

Or perhaps all three, or perhaps none of them?

If this had been my MP I might, in the spirit of ‘Firm briefing’ have reminded them of the General Principles of Conduct for MPs which apply to all aspects of their work (including responding to their constituents).  MPs are expected to demonstrate: Selflessness, Integrity, Objectivity, Accountability, Openness, Honesty and Leadership in their work.

In particular, I would have pointed out that:

Holders of public office are accountable for their decisions and actions to the public and must submit themselves to whatever scrutiny is appropriate to their office (Accountability).’ and that that might well include defending their own inaccurate words to their own constituents and that:

Holders of public office should be as open as possible about all the decisions and actions that they take. They should give reasons for their decisions and restrict information only when the wider public interest clearly demands (Openness).’ and that might mean not slamming the door shut on a conversation with a constituent when she or he is seeking clarification on your views.


It will be interesting to see how other Conservative MPs, and other MPs from other political parties, respond to polite but firm challenge from their constituents. I hope all others do better than The MP. Firm briefing!


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14 Replies to “Tory ex-minister blusters – Firm Briefing 6”

  1. Did the MP really say “I didn’t have the energy to rebut the claims you made against my brilliant missive”? If those are his/her* actual words, that’s a) rude, b) lazy and c) arrogant. It wasn’t this charmer was it?

    *Let’s face it, it’s going to be “his”.

  2. Hi Mark I have had a reply from my local Tory MP Andrew Jones who has said he knows my interest in the subject would welcome some briefing notes and will attend the debate as long as it doesn’t clash with arrangements already made what does one send?

    1. Paul – briefings are being prepared. Plenty of time as we don’t yet know the date. Many thanks indeed.

  3. Is being an MP really that difficult? It seems to involve doing what the whip tells you, pretending to look interested when talking to a constituent, dodging hard questions, and banking a massive salary whilst claiming questionable expenses.

    You could say pretty much the same about a telephone service rep, except they do it on minimum wage, no expenses, risk getting fired on the spot if they don’t sound interested enough and either dodge the question too obviously or accidentally give a direct answer, and have multiple managers to answer to, and call constituents customers. In fact I’d say being an MP is a pretty easy job compared to what most of the poorest paid workers have to do to get by. An MP hardly ever gets sacked for being rude to customers. An MP is really only at risk of being sacked if their party leader screws up, and often times not even then if they are in a safe enough seat.

    1. Guiding Principles, rather like the voluntary codes we criticise Govt for allowing industry to have instead of regulation when they’ve been caught out? Also reminds me of the way we let them sort out the expense scandal too.

      They have staff, the funds for those are paid for by us as well as their offices etc. Those in Govt have more generous allowances, and lest we forget their last pay-rise, remind me again what it was, seem to recall 10%, can’t be right though given austerity and the state of the economy?

      They work long hours too so I understand …. and have fantastically long summer recess. But yes, I’m sure some do work hard.

  4. Today’s words: tail end or interval?

    Are we settling in for a steady finish, or are we just having a bit of a breather?

    Today’s signatures: 165

    Week: 20th-26th August
    Petition total: 118,092
    Week’s total: 3271
    Daily average: 467
    Constituency average (end of week): 181.7

    Week: 13th-19th August
    Petition total: 114,821
    Week’s total: 16,926
    Daily average: 2418
    Constituency average (end of week): 176.6

    Week: 6th-12th August
    Petition total: 97,895
    Week’s total: 25,635
    Daily average: 3662
    Constituency average (end of week): 150.6

    25 days to go.

    1. There’s been a near the end rush with the last two petitions, hopefully there’ll be one this time too. We can’t have too many signatures obviously, dream would be if Greenpeace decided they’d ask their supporters to sign, last minute surprise and one hell of a gift (well fulfilling an obligation more like). I think the most amazing achievement of this petition has been how it has broken through the 100,000 barrier without the direct support of so many organisations that should have given it – after all 3.5 million acres of the country covered by something that involves very heavy suppression of biodiversity, legal and illegal wildlife persecution, significant animal welfare issues on several counts, and then there’s the serious environmental damage with social consequences – exacerbated flooding, lower water quality and higher treatment costs plus biggest field sport angling is negatively affected. Oh yes and dominance of driven grouse shooting depresses opportunities for other economic activities. A friend of mine had a letter published in The Courier, a paper in Scotland’s North East that was a riposte to claims that the RSPB had unfairly rejected working with the estates. My friend replied that in 1998 raptor study volunteers had worked closely with estates and gamekeepers to locate and monitor hen harrier nests. The result was that an awful lot of the nests subsequently failed to produce any young, and many harriers did not return the next year. I hope his letter was widely read and shows the contempt along with smears the conservation community has been shown by this ‘sporting’ community. Well done Mark, amazing to stop and think the petition is currently sitting at 118,000 plus!

    1. mairi – you should have an almost-immediate automatic response if you sent an email. MPs are allowed to be on holiday and this is holiday time! If you don’t hear anything in two weeks I’d be inclined to contact your MP again with a polite ‘Where’s my response?’.

      I would expect anyone who has contacted their MP already, or this weekend, to have had a response by the end of the first week in September.

      If you do not get any response at all from your MP then they are not doing their job properly.

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