I think my MP (Labour) is using me as some kind of experiment: she's pushing to see how disillusioned she can make a voter.
In the past couple of years, I have sent my MP:
- 1 letter about the Equality and Human Rights Commission's initial decision to support religious bigotry over equal treatment for LGB&T people
- 1 Letter on the London Riots
- 1 letter on the NHS Bill
- 5 letters about equal marriage (including a copy of my consultation response)
- 1 copy of The Geek Manifesto
- 1 letter about Randomised Control Trials - in particular because Warrington was selected as a pilot area for Universal credit
- 2 letters about Lords Reform
- 2 letters about the Communications Data Bill
- 1 letter about Commons Reform
- 1 letter about Housing benefit for Under 25s
- 1 letter about emergency retrospective legislation to allow the government to sanction benefit claimants despite not doing so under the proper legislative framework and thus get round a court decision against them
In response, I have received:
- 1 letter about the balancing religious and LGB&T rights
- 1 letter on not forming knee-jerk reactions to the London riots
- 1 letter on NHS reforms
- A series of postcards acknowledging receipt of my other letters
Since March 2012's NHS Bill letter, I have received nothing from my MP of substance. Nothing on the Communications Data Bill, nothing on Equal Marriage (in fact, that's a bit of a lie, when I went to twitter trying to get her to say whether she will be voting, it was only after a local Tory activist was included in the conversation that she DMed me to say she would be voting in favour of second reading), nothing on commons or lords reform, nothing on benefits.
What this is telling me, more and more, is that as a constituent I am not a "stakeholder" in my MP. I cannot influence her. The party line matters more than the constituents' views. It goes back also to a piece I wrote a few years back about the role of an MP:
"Given the scale of their casework-in a typical year, I deal with well over 2,000 new cases-offering a quality service is a challenge." The time to respond and work on that casework removes the time available for scrutiny of bills and holding government to account which many of us feel is a vitally important part of an MP's job, but that's alright because "MPs have almost assumed the role of self-interested-I shall come back to this-quality control in some services, removing the incentive to get services right first time."
My letters aren't casework. My letters are not asking my MP to intervene in a government agency on my behalf and right a wrong against me. They're asking her to think about policy and to act to get things right in parliament, to safeguard our freedoms. And they are technical or go against her party line. And that seems like it's just too much work for her.
I want an MP who is engaged with the issues she is debating in parliament, and they are a rare breed. At this stage I'm so close to thinking I'd prefer Nadine Dorries as my MP rather than a non-communicative, bland, seemly idea- and thought-free politician that it's frightening me.
Give us back our democracy, please!