OK, maybe it is a sign of encroaching Coalition think but… (The symptoms are similar to those members of the Labour party who’d defend everything the last Labour government do, and now accuse LibDems of betraying “progressive” politics.)
Various places ran stories like this one about Dominic Raab. The claim is that he is refusing to take emails from constituents.
The tone is outraged, and they provide his email address as a link to encourage you to share your outrage with him. You are meant to think “how dare he hide from his constituents”.
I think I would have ignored the story if it wasn’t for childish inclusion of email address in these posts.
The first problem is… it is up to him and his constituents. They elected him and get to kick him out. That is the system. So noting the hypocricy of me commenting on this having observed it is nothing to do with me, we move on.
Secondly it isn’t true that you can’t contact him. I checked his website, and he provides a way to email him. Albeit an irritating one. There is also a contact email address for his consituency party which I am sure would be bounced to his office. From reading his blog I see the form was added in response to the furore. However this does show he is willing to be contacted.
Third 38 Degrees are just plain rude. They Work For You gave an example of how to do this politely. An MP asked not to get faxes or emails via the site, and they honoured this. People who tried to went to a page that told them the MP had asked for this and gave his postal address. I think the MP in question was wrong to do this, but it was up to his constituents.
Next, reading the quote on LFF Mr Raab didn’t say no email from constituents, just no prepackaged email from a pressure group. Another way of saying this is that they twisted the facts. They said his publishing his address was enough to let them off the hook. I disagree, and observe that this is the claim of Spammers throughout the world. The address is not being used for the purpose it was published. But that doesn’t matter in the world of twitter: as what has been tweeted world over is the headline.
Fifth the parliamentary email address is for parliamentary business. He needs to be able to see what is urgent in that inbox. I guess Parliamentary IT or Mr Raab are not up to filtering! If the pressure groups are stopping him doing his work, and the nuisance of the fake indignation of bloggers and tweeters.
However, Mr Raab was (at best) naive to do this. It is bad politics, and he should have seen it coming. He assumed that a pressure group wouldn’t want to raise publicity for their causes. How does someone as intelligent as Mr Raab clearly is not spot the problem in that.
To be honest the best approach is to publish a casework email address that goes to his office or to filter the email to parliament to send it to the office. (The office can then send replies.) It’d be hard to object to an email saying “please send these to my office address” if that was the approach taken. This is a problem with a trivial technological solution that doesn’t have political implications. There should be IT support for new MPs to fix these problems.
If you want a thought through response from an MP send a personal letter/email. Otherwise they will bounce you a standard reply from their party. I am sure the fake indignation brigade will rise to this, but if you put in no effort why should they? A candidate I spoke to in a no-hope seat told me that his email inbox bulged and he could spend all his time responding. In a winable seat it must be even worse.