Dear Chief Secretary to the Treasury,
I'm afraid to tell you there's no money left.
Signed, Liam Byrne

(Outgoing Labour Chief Secretary to the Treasury. May 2010)

Sunday, 24 May 2009

An MP's threatening letter.

Mrs Rigby notes that some MPs don't seem to realise they're there to listen to their constituents, even if they don't like what they hear.

It's reported in the Mail today here that Brian Jenkins has written to his constituent Warren Clegg, threatening legal action concerning a letter in a local newspaper.

A Labour MP was accused of ‘bullying’ yesterday for threatening to sue a 21-year-old student who criticised him for not backing the Gurkhas.

Warren Clegg, a member of the Territorial Army, received the threat in a letter from his MP Brian Jenkins.

It was hand-delivered to Mr Clegg’s mother Julie Steggles at their home in Tamworth, Staffordshire – two days after her soldier husband John, Mr Clegg’s stepfather, had left to serve with the Army in Afghanistan.

Mr Jenkins, writing on House of Commons notepaper, said: ‘You have damaged my good name. It is my intention to seek legal redress unless you able [sic] to prove your allegations or are prepared to fully retract the offending comments and apologise unreservedly.’

In a letter two weeks ago to his local newspaper, Mr Clegg said: ‘I wrote to Mr Jenkins in support of the Gurkhas; as usual, my opinion as one of his constituents did not warrant a response.’

He said Mr Jenkins had ‘voted to keep the Gurkhas in poverty’ by not agreeing to let them settle in the UK.
Yes, some of the Mail article is padding - Mr Jenkins probably didn't know that one of the family had gone to fight in Afghanistan, probably didn't know that Warren Clegg is in the TA. And, maybe, Mr Jenkins was trying to save taxpayer's money by delivering the letter by hand.

But, instead, Mrs Rigby thinks he's highlighted a symptom of the country's malaise. You see, Mrs R has noted that the first thing a lot of people do when they run up against a problem is run to a lawyer - and attempt to get compensation of one sort or another. She hadn't expected an MP would do the same, especially not now, when politicians of all parties should be doing their utmost to rebuild the electorate's trust.

Mrs R would have thought his best route would have been to make an appointment, talk to the chap who wrote the letter, try to sort out their disagreement amicably and, maybe, even apologise - and mean it too, not with crocodile tears. Doing this could even have led to a positive report in the press, which might have helped him at the hustings.

Mrs Rigby thinks it's the duty and responsibility of our politicians to lead by example, and had thought they would realise that doing nothing about an irritation can sometimes lead to a good result.

By being heavy handed Mr Jenkins has brought this matter into the public eye.

Mrs Rigby wouldn't mind betting he wishes he hadn't bothered She wonders if he's just remembered that scratching a tiny little midge bite can make the itch a hundred times worse.

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