[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.

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  • quietzaple  On January 2, 2013 at 3:29 pm

    You might refer them to the DT’s blogs.
    I used to post on Tom Harris’ blog. I did not share his view that posting lots of blogs was a particular advantage for him. Rather he took controversial views and engaged with right wing posters who came back, lots. There were few socialists of any kind IMHO.

    • kerrymccarthy  On January 2, 2013 at 4:07 pm

      I think you’re right to an extent. My biggest responses were nearly always when the libertarian trolls picked up on something. Which again, makes you question what the point of blogging is…

      • quietzaple  On January 2, 2013 at 5:36 pm

        Varies? 😉 Have a look at @LordTobySays’ and you get another model altogether. I missed yours, iconoclastic in your own special way. We hope to learn and elucidate, entertain and sustain. And prod into action.
        Writing helps draw thoughts together, conversation can be part of the dialectic. What you do seems to me to carry all that forward, but you don’t troll much, which was probably part of Tom Harris’ success. He is a showman, and fell out with HMG. That brought in people anxious to exploit that. Eric Joyce didn’t exploit his position as a rebel then, as he might have done.
        I think the food waste issue is the biggie for you. I’d go with that on showmanship as well as sheer socialist principle.

  • thebristolblogger  On January 2, 2013 at 6:25 pm

    What are you complaining about? It’s an Englishman’s right to send completely mad letters to their MP, ideally in green ink. It is your and your staff’s constitutional duty to furnish a sensible response to these. Always has been, always will be.

    Don’t go getting social services involved either. I’m not sure they’re resourced to deal with every case of alien abduction and 9/11 ‘research’ that’s out there.

    • kerrymccarthy  On January 2, 2013 at 10:02 pm

      There’s the green ink brigade – although we don’t actually get that many of those from constituents, they’re by and large from further afield – and there’s the ones who leave messages threatening suicide, or violence of some sort, which is a very different scenario. Several of them during the past year.

  • Philip Gilbert  On January 2, 2013 at 9:56 pm

    I did wonder how you sort through your constituant emails. Is it the same people constantly emailing you? Do you have someone to filter your emails?

    • kerrymccarthy  On January 3, 2013 at 5:39 pm

      There are some regulars who email me a lot, but then I also now get lots of emails – sometimes hundreds – via sites like 38 degrees, which are all identical. I will approve a response to those but then the staff will intercept other emails that come though on the same topic, and send that response out. I do try to keep an eye on numbers though as it obviously makes a difference if 300 or 30 people have sent that email. Also, responses to issues change, with political developments or perhaps I’ve said something in Parliament, so it’s not really OK to just prepare a standard response as soon as the first few emails trickle in and then still be sending that same response out a month later.

      I also get lots of PR junk, and lots of diary invites – one of my staff deals with those – eg deletes invites for things she knows I’d not be interested in, sends apologies if there’s no way I’d be able to attend something – and then I get to see the ones where a decision is required of me. I’d say 50% of my emails each day are diary related.

      • quietzaple  On January 3, 2013 at 10:11 pm

        Do you treat hardcopy letters more or less seriously than emails?


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