[I wrote this blog post about an hour ago and still haven't been able to think of a proper title. This is often the case. Maybe I should just number them?]
Every day I get emails from people who cc every single member of parliament in – they never know how to bcc, which is a particular pain when you’re looking at your emails on your phone. Their email list usually includes MPs who stood down years ago, and often newspaper columnists and celebrities and random others too. Sometimes these are valid, reasoned attempts to bring important issues to our attention. More often that not though they’re along these lines…
“As you enjoy the festive season and splash out (for a change) some of your own cash as well as sending £36,000,000,000 million per day overseas on foreign aid, may I suggest that
you save some and at least send the the 140 people, whose merry christmas meant getting canned from E-Tech in Great Yarmouth which is is receivership a belated Christmas Card or New Years Card and explain why you choose to support foreigners rather than them-they are at least entitled to an explanation-even if it is truthful and states it buys an MP a knighthood and on that basis is a bargain-after all what is 2.6 Million unemployed in the moral high ground.”
There was rather more to it than that, mostly about the ancient kingdom of Fife. I don’t know how many responses the guy will get, but I suspect he’ll get quite a lot of auto replies saying that MPs can only take up issues on behalf of their own constituents, and maybe one or two who are sufficiently riled by his tone to point out that his figures are nonsense. Mostly though he will be ignored and that will, I guess, reaffirm his worldview that MPs don’t care and are more interested in foreigners.
More worrying than this though are the mass emails we get from people who obviously have serious mental health problems. Some of those are abusive, some are desperately trying to alert MPs to perceived conspiracies or impending disaster, some make no sense at all… but it’s clear that they come from individuals who aren’t at all well. Often they’re from overseas – there are a few regular email correspondents in India for example. So there’s nothing an MP can do. In the case of UK correspondents I would hope that someone, somewhere is picking up on it and that the correspondents are getting some help, or are at least ‘within the system’ somewhere. If it’s a local person that’s what my office would try to do, although it’s always tricky trying to suggest to someone that perhaps they need medical rather than political help.
The above, by the way, is very much about people who send out mass emails, sometimes on a daily basis. There’s a separate issue about how MPs deal with constituents with mental health issues who approach them on a personal basis. Again, they’re sometimes abusive, sometimes threatening harm to themselves and/ or others, sometimes just very worried about things (which may or may not be things they need to be concerned about). We have to make a judgment call on how we deal with such cases, and it’s always very tricky.