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Dominic Raab MP Tells Constituents “Don’t email me…it’s becoming a real nuisance”

August 9th, 2010 by

Dominic Raab, Conservative MP for Esher & Walton is threatening 38 Degrees that if we don’t take his email address off our “contact your MP system” he’ll report us to the Information Commissioner.

We’ve been in touch with the Information Commissioner and they’ve reassured us that because he is an MP and his e-mail address is in the public domain, he has no grounds to report us.

We let Mr Raab know this and he responded by having the House of Commons remove his e-mail address from their website. We spoke to the Information Commisioner’s office and again they reassured us that because he is an MP and because his email address is in the public domain we’re in the right by letting his constituents get in touch with him.

We want to be totally transparent about this, so we’re publishing a copy of all the e-mails between 38 Degrees and Mr Raab below.

When Mr Raab was an election candidate he gave out his personal email address to use. Now he’s an MP, with an official parliament email address paid for by the taxpayer, he’s telling us to stop people using it and making threats. No other MP anywhere in the UK has ever threatened 38 Degrees in this way.

Mr Raab is a trained lawyer with friends in high places. Even though he appears to be wrong, he could cause us some trouble and cost us money in legal advice.

So what next?  Today we’ve launched a local poll of 38 Degrees members in his constituency to decide what we should do next.

What do you think we should do? Let us know in the comments below.

What the Information Commissioner’s Office website said:
Dear Mr Chatterton

Thank you for your email dated 15 July 2010 regarding the use of MPs House of Commons email addresses by 38 Degrees.

I can confirm in writing that, as discussed on the telephone last week, MPs House of Commons email addresses are publicly available. This means that, although they will be considered personal data under the terms of Section 1(1) of the Data Protection Act 1998 (the DPA), the individuals who the data relates to will have a lower expectation of privacy due to the fact that this information is already within the public domain.

You have indicated that your website allows individuals to email MPs at their House of Commons email addresses about specific subjects that their constituents have issues concerning. Use of MPs email addresses in this way is likely to be within their reasonable expectation and is unlikely to be significantly different from the purpose for which they expect their House of Commons email address to be used. It is unlikely, therefore, that the use of MPs personal information in this way will constitute a breach of the DPA.

With regard to an MP requesting you to cease processing their personal information, individuals do not have the right to request deletion of personal information under all circumstances. Under Section 10 of the Act, individuals have the right to request that an organisation ceases processing their personal information where it is causing them damage or distress. This is, however, unlikely to apply in this case because, as previously stated, MPs should have a legitimate expectation that their constituents will contact them via their House of Commons email addresses in relation to issues they have concerns over. Individuals also have the right under Section 11 of the Act to request that organisations cease processing their personal information for marketing purposes. However, this is again unlikely to apply in this case due to the fact that 38 Degrees is not using the email addresses for marketing purposes.

I hope the above information is of assistance to you in clarifying the legal situation surrounding this issue and consolidates the information I supplied to you over the telephone.

Yours sincerely

The full e-mail thread

From: Johnny Chatterton
Subject: Re: Re:
To: “Dominic Raab”
Date: Thursday, 5 August, 2010, 10:37

Hi Dominic,

Thanks for your prompt reply.

To be honest personally I don’t agree with your stance. However, we’re a people powered organisation so we’re going to ask our local members what they think we should do.

If they think we should remove your details we will do.

In the meantime we’d be very happy to talk to you in person or on the phone about this.

All the best,

Johnny

From: Dominic Raab

Subject: Re: Re:
To: “Johnny Chatterton”
Date: Thursday, 5 August, 2010, 10:33

Johnny

No change.

It sounds like we have received very different advice. The ICO made it clear that, unless I was advertising my details publicly, you had no right to use them.

The point is that there are hundreds of campaign groups like yours, and flooding MPs inboxes with pro-forma emails creates an undue administrative burden. I welcome anyone who feels strongly about AV writing to me in person – rather than copying an automated template – and they would always received a reply.

Dominic Raab

From: Johnny Chatterton

Subject: Re: Re:
To: “Dominic Raab”
Date: Thursday, 5 AuUgust, 2010, 10:28

Dear Dominic,

Thanks for your reply.

I’m writing to let you know that we’ve been in touch with the
Information Commissioner’s Office and they’ve reassured us that our
postcode-based” contact your MP” system does not breach their rules.

Given this advice we’re very reluctant to remove you from our system
without consulting our members in the local area. Before we do this I
wanted to check that your position remains as stated previously.

We’re planning to contact our members at  0800 this coming Monday. If
your position has changed please let us know before then.

All the best,

From: “Dominic Raab”
Subject: Re: Re:
To: Johnny Chatterton
Date: 19 July 2010 09:30

Dear Johnny

I have now had my email address removed from the public HoC internet, to avoid it being used by lobby groups such as your own. I have spoken to the Information Commissioner’s Office who inform me that – as it is no longer in the public domain – I am entitled to request that you stop using it on your campaign website, so that I no longer receive pro-forma emails.

Please understand that MPs get a high volume of correspondence and emails. Just processing the emails from your website absorbs a disproportionate amount of time and effort, which we may wish to spend on higher priorities, such as helping constituents in real need or other local or Parliamentary business.

These emails from your and other lobby groups are becoming a real nuisance. I am easily contactable by constituents, who can write to me at the House of Commons, and readily accessible via surgeries and other public meetings.

So, I am now formally requesting that you remove my email from your website system. If you refuse, I will submit a formal complaint to the Information Commissioner.

Regards,

Dominic Raab

From: Johnny Chatterton
Subject: Re: Re:
To: “Dominic Raab”
Date: Thursday, 15 July, 2010, 17:57

Dear Dominic,

Thanks for your email.

The only emails you will receive about 38 Degrees campaigns are emails from people who have identified themselves as your constituents, using the postcode-based MP finder system we offer on our web site . Our web site enables anyone to quickly identify and email their MP about issues they care about. It’s a very popular system because it’s quick and easy to use for constituents and provides a useful service to MPs – because it means you hear from your constituents and will be able to engage with their concerns. Our system uses your House of Commons email address which, as an MP, is published online and is in the public domain.

I must admit I was surprised by the tone of your last email, and wanted to check there hasn’t been a misunderstanding. It appears that you are asking to be removed from a system that quickly and easily allows your constituents to get in touch with you about issues they care about.You mentioned complaining to the Information Commissioner. As an MP you are paid, with taxpayers’ money, to represent your constituents, and we believe that as your parliamentary email address is in the public domain it’s legitimate to use it to facilitate your constituents getting in touch with you. We have been in touch with the Information Commissioner to confirm this. Before the election when you were still a candidate you were happy to encourage people to email you and provided an email address for us to use – I expect some of your constituents would be disappointed if it was the case that you were less happy to be contacted now you have been elected.

In your original email to us you requested that “If people wish to contact me on AV, I ask that they write to me at my HoC address.”. This is exactly what we have done now – all emails from your constituents are now sent to your House of Commons email address.

Thanks,

Johnny

On 12 July 2010 20:06, Dominic Raab wrote:

Dear Johnny

For the final time, I am asking that you do not use my email address at all for your campaign. If you continue to do so, I will submit a formal complaint to the Information Commissioner.

Dominic Raab

From: Johnny Chatterton
Subject: Re: Re:
T
o: “Dominic Raab”
Date: Monday, 12 July, 2010, 20:00

Hi Dominic,

Thanks for your email.

I’d like to reassure you that we won’t be emailing you directly – it will be your constituents who want to contact you about issues they care about via your Parliament email address.

I spoke with our technical team today and they’re working to get your email address changed over as soon as possible.

All the best,

Johnny

Johnny Chatterton | Digital Campaigns Manager | 38 Degrees
38 Degrees brings you together with other people to take action on the issues that matter to you and bring about real change. Find out more at http://www.38degrees.org.uk/

On 12 July 2010 16:03, Dominic Raab wrote:
Thanks, but I don’t want my email details on your system at all.

From: Johnny Chatterton
Subject: Re: Re:
Dominic Raab
Date: Monday, 12 July, 2010, 15:57

Dear Dominic,

Thanks for your email. We’ve passed the correction onto our data provider who will be updating your details very soon.

I’d also like to reassure you that we don’t publish email addresses on our website. When our members want to email you they just see your name – your details are kept on our system.

If you have any questions please don’t hesitate to get in touch with me directly.

All the best,

Johnny


Johnny Chatterton | Digital Campaigns Manager | 38 Degrees

Date: Wed, 7 Jul 2010 16:02:03 +0000 (GMT)
From: Dominic Raab

To: 38 Degrees

Dear James

Please do not put any of my email addresses on your website.

Regards, Dominic

From: 38 Degrees
Subject: Re:
To: “Dominic Raab”
Date: Wednesday, 7 July, 2010, 16:28

Dear Dominic,

Thanks for getting in touch and apologies for any inconvenience caused by emails being sent to your personal account. I’ve forwarded your email to Johnny, who manages our website, so we can make sure that future emails will only be sent to your House of Commons address.

Best wishes,

James and the 38 Degrees team

On 06/07/2010 8:06 AM, Dominic Raab wrote:
Please stop using my private email address for your campaign immediately, or I will report your website to the Information Commissioner’s Office. If people wish to contact me on AV, I ask that they write to me at my HoC address.

Thank you.

Dominic Raab

MP for Esher & Walton

[Note - we have edited this email thread to remove email addresses and to make it easier to read. We haven't altered the text of the emails in any way].

Update: We’ve clarified a couple of things that have been misunderstood in a new blog post here.

Posted in 38 Degrees Blog Posts

Tags:

  • Daysieblue

    What a surprise – he's a Tory.

  • http://twitter.com/AlexanderWright Alexander Wright

    I would be disgusted by this MP if I lived in his constituency.

    Allowing his request would undermine the rest of the site, as MPs would use the excuse of being busy to avoid having to deal with their constituents.

    You should not give in to this bullying.

  • http://twitter.com/pseudomonas Adam Bernard

    This might be something to draw to the attention of the Speaker?

  • Dan Diplo

    Whilst I don't agree with him trying to remove his email address, I do think he has a legitimate point regarding being flooded with identikit emails. If I was an MP I would get fed up if my inbox was being flooded with thousands of near-identicals emails all based on the sample template. It is fairly obvious that when this happens the point and legitimacy of the message gets lost when it comes across more as an automated mass spamming attack.

    The idea of easily being able to contact your MP is great. But instead of offering pre-made templates that send out indvidual emails, why doesn't 38 Degrees have two options:

    1) For people who don't want to write a personal message, let them just sign a petition, and then send the petition to the MP with every signature and email address on it. Perhaps give the MP a way of emailing every signatory back or responding.

    2) For people who do want to write directly, don't provide a template, just provide the information and resources that are needed. Instead let the person write a personal message to their MP using the resources on the site as the basis. This is far more likely to be read and make an impression than 5,000 identikit impersonal messages that all use the same wording.

    In other words, differentiate between petitions (where people lend their name to a pre-defined message) and sending emails (which enable ordinary people to easily contact their MP with a personal message).

  • Benjamin

    I agree with Dan.

    Just out of interest does 38 degrees list its own email addresses?

  • Derekmartin74

    As “Dave” was so quick to quash the milk snatcher – perhaps he could step to resolve his own MP's anti-democratic, and worse, threatening attitude

  • Phil

    Sorry, but I would argue that he has the right not to be flooded with cut and paste messages as they serve no useful purpose simply by the fact that they are seen as a nuisance rather than a genuine communication from a constituent. If you want to get representation of constituents feelings across to an MP then a petition with signatories will be more effective and more readily processed. A thousand identical emails are not. I would say it is unfair to state that he doesn't want to be emailed, I think this is more crossed wires in him not being able to (or choosing not to) differentiate between the 'write your mp' generic function and the 'send a message to your mp on this single issue and here's a guideline two page letter we've prewritten' that most people will just blindly cut and paste without putting any effort or though in themselves.

    The mass messaging of largely identical emails unfortunately means that when, for example, I wrote by hand a letter to my MP about the Digital Economy Bill I got lumped in with form responses that did not address very specific points I had rasied as I was simply put in the “DEBill” pile at their office. This is not the first time I have had this difficulty.

    Regardless of political affiliation, delivering hundreds of identical emails to an MPs mailbox does mean that that single issue drowns out other individual's issues and messages. It seems like delivering petitions split into regions so that MPs were sent only signatories from their region would allow them to process response to that single issue all in one go. If people then have something specific they want to write by hand then that is fine.

    Unfortunately, all of the reasoning in the world doesn't mean that he's not behaving like an ill-informed arse. I would argue that the regular 'find and mail your mp' service does little more than provide, effectively, a public email service of limited scope. I am surprised that the HoC were prepared to remove his email address from their website. Sems like the thin end of the wedge to me. As for sending letters, I'm sorry, is he from the past? Like we can rely on the Royal Mail to deliver anything any more. I'll send my next message to my MP by bonded courier on horseback, shall I?

  • Phil

    Paragraph 1, last sentence: effort or thought

    Curse my rushed proof reading.

  • Phil

    Sure, their main contact address is here http://38degrees.org.uk/pages/contact_us

    I think I've seen the individual people's emails lying around the place too.

  • Phil

    Frankly, our Labour MP is no better in this regard, so this really has nothing to do with his party affiliation.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=665841198 Debra Storr

    Without the secretarial backup that MPs have, I have had my councillors email flooded by hundreds of emails in a day – and thousands in a week. It's part of being an elected representative.

    That said, I must comment that petitions and form letters or email can be tedious – it is always better to customise such or write your own text.

  • Jimi

    Surely this MP getting lots of 38 degree emails to his HoC email address (automated or personalised) should indicate that the campaigns are well supported by his constituents and he should take them as an indication for him to try and do something about them in Parliament!

    An MP is a paid representative of a constituency, he has no right whatsoever to try and block these emails regarding legitimate issues people feel strongly about! This clearly demonstrates that he isn't willing to really listen to his electorate and should be exposed in my opinion.

    I think 38 degrees have done enough and should leave his HoC email address on their system safe in the knowledge those people have a right to use this website to voice their opinions to their elected MP. There's no way he has a legal case to force removal!

  • http://www.facebook.com/kester.ratcliff Kester Ratcliff

    Incredible, but I guess he's a tory.

    There're plagiarism programs for analysing university coursework that use algorithms to calculate the exact proportion of similarity between your text and sources online, it would be a much simpler peice of programming to make a filter that recognises similar sections and just highlights different sections, so the MPs secretary can just count up how many emails overall with similar sections (probably coming through 38degrees), and the program could even automatically select the different sections and compile them into one document, and perhaps the secretaries could highlight the most interesting ones for the MP to read.

  • Sarah

    I don't see why receiving emails on a subject is that much harder to adminster than a petition: it's quite easy to set up email filters etc to organise emails on the same subject.

    In any case, I'd expect my elected representative to welcome both equally as an expression of their constituents' concerns. Like many people I don't always have time to write a personalised letter when I want to, so if I agree with the content of a form letter I will sometimes use that instead, but it is still a genuine communication of my concern about that issue – I wouldn't send it otherwise!

    I hope this isn't becoming a general trend in the new Parliament towards MPs not being interested in constituents' views. I went to the effort of booking an appointment at my MP's surgery recently, but the meeting was quickly terminated because I wanted to discuss 'policy': I was told this was a waste of 'valuable time'. (Interestingly, she told me I should email her if I wanted to raise such issues – even thought she hadn't responded to either of my – individually written, not form – emails to her on the same matter over the previous three months).

  • http://www.facebook.com/kester.ratcliff Kester Ratcliff

    Those copy n paste template letters at least register the number of constituents concerned about an issue. That's relevant information for a democratic representative, but he doesn't seem to see himself like that.

  • http://www.facebook.com/iamaplantpot Chris Curtis

    This is why the Libel laws need to change.

  • Phil

    That's my point. If you are happy putting your name to a prewritten message and do not want to expend the time on writing your own, what you want is a petition.

    All that happens is that if you deliver 500 single policy emails that are largely the same, MPs will collate them in the manner you indicate rather than treating them individually as seperate communications which means that specific points go unread. If you have a 500 signature petition and then half a dozen emails, they're much more likely to be read.

    Whether or not they should accept the flow of identikit messages and process them is a matter of time (and time = money) – if we accept that MPs offices should deal with the increasing volume of correspondance they get we will also need to carry the can when it comes to funding additional administrative staff and realise then that we are moving further away from having MPs directly involved in constituents correspondance, as suddenly their staff will deal with stuff.

  • Tony Fielding-Raby

    “Please understand that MPs get a high volume of correspondence and emails”. (quote) Mr Raab should understand that constituents pay high taxes, some of which pays him rather handsomely in salary and allowances. Some of that money is to cover the cost of dealing with his correspondence.
    So, in this unfair and unequal world, Joe Public pays to write to Mr Raab and pays again to receive a reply. The man has nothing to complain about.

  • Callan

    I think there are a couple of issues with your arguments Phil and Dan. The most important being, that any further restriction of one's democratic voice, whether that be in the form of a 'identikit' e-mails or otherwise, should not be tolerated. If there are grave injustices taking place within our political system, as I'm sure many members here feel there are, then precisely what we want (amongst other things of course) is to create administrative hassle. A single petition I feel will in almost all cases receive the all too familiar party line response. This means we must take disruptive action of some kind where possible I believe.

    Furthermore, would we get any real change under your proposed system? If say 50% of the the 38Degrees members that currently forward the (perhaps edited) message on campaigns wrote an individualised message, would we not be getting precisely the same feedback from Dominic Raab? Would this not lead to precisely the same issues you are mentioning?

  • http://twitter.com/yochannah yochannah

    To sum up, in short form, what a lot of others have said: He's the MP of a constituency. It's entirely inappropriate for him to try and block communications from his constituents, people he is supposed to -represent-, not ignore.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=619096596 Simon Jones

    I have had a number of replies from my M.P. Greg Hands (Tory and no, I didn't vote for him) regarding petitions and 38' email campaigns. Whilst he has merely repeated 'party lines' in his replies, they have been courteous and hand signed, and gives me hope that my concerns are noted. A friend with a different M.P. gets a standard photocopied reply, with parts of the text blacked out according to the issue addressed, which he finds, as I would, insulting.
    Neither of them have displayed the arrogance and misperception of his role in public life such as that shown by Dominic Raab, the man is an arrogant idiot, and hopefully this behaviour will be noted by his party superiors, who, whether they agree privately with him or not, will surely see his responses as a public relations nightmare and replace him.
    Perhaps 38' should publicise his attitude and his constituents may then reflect their dismay at the polls, enabling him to get back to his private life – as a preening ex-M.P.

  • http://melpoluck.wordpress.com/2010/08/09/mp-says-no-to-constituents-emails/ MP says no to constituents’ emails. « Mel Poluck

    [...] of a formal complaint against 38 Degrees still looming, the organisation this morning published the entire email exchange with the MP and ran a poll asking all of the 38 Degrees members who live in the constituency of [...]

  • Dan Diplo

    I don't think myself or Phil are proposing we should limit or restrict anyone's “democratic voice”. Instead, we are looking at ways that 38 Degrees can be used most effectively to get across a particular message. My personal view is that flooding someone's inbox with identikit messages isn't the most effective way of persuading someone of a strongly-held point of view. In fact, I can see that it could be counterproductive, in the same way as shouting at someone in a rude and abrasive manner isn't always effective as sitting down and calmly explaining your point.

    Now there may be times when causing “adminstrative hassle” is warranted, but I don't believe it is a good default starting point. I also think it would be a lot harder for an MP to dismiss indvidually wrtitten messages than it would be to dismiss a load of auto-generated messages.

  • http://www.leftfootforward.org/2010/08/tory-mp-tells-constituents-dont-email-me-its-becoming-a-real-nuisance/ Tory MP tells constituents: “Don’t email me… it’s becoming a real nuisance” | Left Foot Forward

    [...] their website 38 Degrees explain: “We’ve been in touch with the Information Commissioner and they’ve reassured us that [...]

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Lisa-Dillon/1396796056 Lisa Dillon

    MPs consistently use templates that rarely address the issues we raise. Complaining about pro forma emails is ridiculous. And let's face it, if we could trust MPs to do what they're paid for, we wouldn't need lobby groups at all.

  • JP

    Admirable as this may be guys, you're kind of shooting yourself in the foot in the long-term. P1ssing of parliamentarians who you want to act on your behalf isn't going to make them want to work with you!

    I work in lobbying and can say that nuanced lobbying campaigns with individual letters/emails are received MUCH more strongly by members of both Houses than emails which at worse come across as spam.

    Whether this is right or wrong doesn't matter – getting what you want from them does. Yes he's wrong to be like this, but your stance is rather antagonistic and annoying a potentially prominent future Tory is bad lobbying practice and not a good strategic policy in the long-term. Let the websites that actively campaign for political opennes as their raison d'etre get into these battles, not ones like yours that campaign on a wide number of issues and by pushing this issue so hard will damage your credibility and ability to get parliamentarians on board to your campaigns!

    Again not saying he's right, but am advising against annoying people you want to be on your side to change law and policy in the UK. I've spoken to one of your guys about this before and am only too happy to lend assistance again.

  • Gail Knight

    I sent a template email to my MP through 38Degrees and was slightly embarrassed to receive a letter through the post on House of Commons stationery in reply – a typed and hopefully template letter itself (assuming my MP got more than 1 email on the subject) but with my name and her signature handwritten. Really, a similar stock email reply would have been fine, as long as my views had been heard.

    However I believe in what my (template) letter said.

    After all, when a second 38Degrees campaign about lobbying turned up in my email, I decided that I didn't know much about lobbying, looked into the issue, read some articles, and decided against it.

    So through 38Degrees I've learnt about new subjects, formed opinions, and when issues really mattered to me I've contacted my MP, which I hope is what constituents are meant to do.

    So I dislike the suggestion that it matters how you communicate. What matters is that a constituent feels strongly about an issue and has said so.

    Of course this doesn't help MPs whose constituents happen to have a lot of opinions! I may be wrong but it sounds as if Mr Raab just needs to set up some email filters. How many emails are we talking about??

  • Gail Knight

    by 'decided against it' I mean 'decided against emailing my MP' :(

    I don't make snap decisions based on a quick google!

  • Evan

    I actually agree with the MP here I'm afraid.

  • Albert Hall

    personally I'd send your rubbish straight to the junk box.

  • Sindy

    It might be good if he were to ask you:

    how much tax-payers money has been used responding to emails where the sender couldn't be bothered to even pen their own thoughts?

    or:

    Why do you confuse spam for “action”?

    or:

    Why are all your campaigns left-wing?

    or:

    Who is paying your wages?

  • Owen Dunn

    Your site allows users to send messages to their MP without even writing anything. Not only is this unfair on the MP, who will be deluged with thousands of identical messages, but this is certainly questionable and possibly illegal behaviour on your part. If you want to send petitions, send petitions. Spamming MPs will gain you and your causes no friends at all.

  • Dave

    To be honest, I'm going to back the MP on this occasion. Receiving pro-forma emails are bound to be counter productive to all MPs. In fact you are almost letting them off the hook – a standard response can be written to all the emails – whereas individual letters would make this much harder to do. Maybe you should have a few suggested points that people can make into their own letters.

  • Sindy

    Oh the irony.

    If you send an email to 38 Degress they tell you that they might not be able to respond!!

  • John Spence

    Another one here who agrees with the MP, and I never thought I'd ever agree with a Tory. If people can't be bothered to compose their own e-mails or letters then they shouldn't have their hands held by organisations who, let's face it, are just out to make a name for themselves.

  • Guest

    Stop spamming him – it's clearly counterproductive. He's clearly trying to be an open and accessible MP but your disproportionate amount of emails are spoiling it for everyone else.

    Why don't you consolidate all the emails from one constituency and email him once a month / a week with the issues and signatories – surely then he would get the message, be able to respond to each constituent and be aware of how many people had signed up to the issue? Or else arrange petitions?

  • Andrewpalmer1

    I actually agree with the MP, although think he's gone about it in an arrogant manner. Fact is anyone can send an email and this way of campaigning is becoming redundant. If you really want to get active go and see your MP, get involved in your community activism, put something into society rather than just emailing some template to them

  • darren

    I think 38 degrees works. He argues that he's not being contacted directly by constituents but he is, the site merely makes it easier to do so and also informs the constituents about issues that might be of concern. Ignoring contact by a lot of people just because they are saying the same thing seems ludicrous.

    Whenever I have contacted my MP through 38 degrees it is about something that I care about and would like an answer to. I don't simply click through every email that gets sent by 38 degrees. Why should my email be ignored and others who write their email slightly differently be addressed?

    If anything surely this kind of template system makes it easier for MPs to log how many people are concerned with the same issue?

  • john

    Reluctantly I agree with the politician. I wince at typing that. But when I care about something then I'm happy to bash out my own email or letter with my own arguments (or at least the arguments in my own words). What's the point of an MP getting hundreds of emails all saying the same thing. If they agree with the arguments or are going to be persuaded by them, then surely one copy is enough. Quite honestly I'd prefer to see my MP in the House of Commons making more speeches or taking part in committees, or taking the time to read up on issues rather than endlessly copy and pasting the exact same reply to hundreds of constituents to give the impression of business rather than actual being busy with useful stuff.

  • johnnychatterton

    Hi Sindy, we're a people powered campaign group driven by our members. We receive hundreds of campaign suggestions through our website and regularly ask our 162,000 members what we should campaign on.

    There's plenty of detail on how we're funded on this page: http://38degrees.org.uk/pages/donations-to-38-d…

  • johnnychatterton

    Hi Gail, thanks for the comment.

    It's more of a trickle than a flood. Since the election Mr Raab has received less than 2 e-mails through the 38 Degrees websites. These have all been from people who identify themselves as his constituents.

  • johnnychatterton

    Hi Lisa, good point. Hundreds of 38 Degrees members have compiled their MP responses to a recent campaign and lots of them look to be the same. You can see them here: http://www.38degrees.org.uk/page/content/BBC-un…

  • johnnychatterton

    Hi Benjamin and Phil, we read every email sent to us through the website (at the link Phil gave). We also list an e-mail address on that page (hello@38degrees.org.uk). If you want to reply to an e-mail we send just click reply and we'll get it.

    Hope that helps,

    J

  • johnnychatterton

    Thanks Alexander, we've asked our members in his constituency what we should do. We'll update the blog with the results as soon as we can.

  • Fly Girl

    I have to say, I think template spamming like this is counter productive. If you want an MP to read what you've written and reply to your concern then the very least you can do is write your own email to him. Otherwise, you shouldn't complain if he sends you a template reply, or even no reply at all.

  • http://www.facebook.com/bensoffa Ben Soffa

    If your objection is to groups facilitating the demands of their supporters, then surely that applies to almost all forms of political organisation:
    Pre-printed placard at a demo? Only for those too lazy to write their own.
    A coach booked to let people lobby their MP in Westminster? For the apathetic.

    Lowering the amount of effort which must be committed to effect change is a surely part of the rationale for having a representative democracy (however flawed that is when implemented): people can chose a party without making every policy decision themselves.

    Dominic Raab is seemingly unconcerned if he receives form-letters in the post, but access to a printer and a post box are not what determine someone's commitment or whether a constituent should be listened to or not.

  • http://www.blacklink.me/news/?p=2355 Don’t email me – Tory MP | news

    [...] website 38 Degrees today printed an exchange between a member of staff and Raab, in which he demanded the site stop forwarding emails from [...]

  • Pickman's Model

    The trouble is, his email address is already out there and will have been harvested by the spammers who will retain a record of it more or less for ever more. So it won't stop spam and other robomails getting to him; it just makes it more difficult for concerend individuals to email him.

    Although his email address remains publicly visible here; http://w4mp.org/html/personnel/jobs/disp_job.as…

  • http://lesbonner.mycouncillor.org.uk/2010/08/09/tory-mp-tells-constituents-%e2%80%9cdon%e2%80%99t-email-me%e2%80%a6it%e2%80%99s-becoming-a-real-nuisance%e2%80%9d/ Les Bonner » Blog Archive » Tory MP Tells Constituents “Don’t email me…it’s becoming a real nuisance”

    [...] recent article on the 38 degrees website entitled Dominic Raab MP Tells Constituents “Don’t email me…it’s becoming a real nuisance” reveals that Tory MP for Esher and Walton, DominicRaab has threatened legal action against the [...]

  • Simon Midgley

    If someone chooses to become an MP then s/he should expect to receive communications from their constituents. Indeed they should welcome communication from their constituents – it keeps them in touch and grounded with their constituents' concerns.

    If an MP, who after all is a public servant paid for by public funds, chooses to restrict their constituents access to them, as is the case here, then maybe they should no longer be paid by us?

    If you are a literate kind of person, with lots of time, then you can probably craft your own, personal email to your MP which gets across your concerns well. If you still have concerns, but are not literate, and do not find it easy to compose a letter / email, then a template letter removes these issues. To say that template letters are not good is OK if you have the skill and resources to craft your own. But it is not OK to ban template letters as this then disenfranchises the less confident, less skilful, less literate, who appreciate the support a template letter gives.

    If nothing else, the template letter registers constituents' concerns. It shows the number who are concerned. For an to remove email as a means of communication in the 21st century perhaps indicates an MP who is not easy with modern communication methods. It shows a complete lack of understanding. Or maybe it shows an MP who cannot set in place systems to deal with the emails he receives: template letter or carefully crafted “personal” letter.

  • http://www.scotnetwork.com/scotnetwork/news/dont-email-me-%e2%80%93%c2%a0tory-mp Don’t email me – Tory MP | Scot Network

    [...] website 38 Degrees today printed an exchange between a member of staff and Raab, in which he demanded the site stop forwarding emails from [...]

  • mike

    Listening to the discussion about this on BBC Radio 4 I'm with the politician, never thought I'd say that. The Guy from 38degrees sounded much like a smarmy twerp.

  • Guest

    apart from the issue of emails for MPs being public domain, I do have a comment on the layout of this page. I read from the top down, which is how people normally read, then when I get near the bottom realise I am reading in reverse.

    Isn't this called “top posting” on newsgroups, and discouraged? It would be much easier to read if it was from the top down, chronologically.

  • mike

    So much for the argument then and for what the 38degress person said on the radio, hundreds of his constituents are registered… polled were they….

  • http://twitter.com/Antigone_DOT Antigone

    I disagree with those saying that template email deserves a dismissive response or should cause annoyance. For the record, I sent a personal email to my MP and received a copied and pasted reply (which I discovered thanks to the 38 degrees site). Not terribly polite.

    But this is surely about a democracy? People have stated their view. If it happens to be as a template then this is no more or less of a statement than a tick of a box at an election. The fact is, they are showing that they care enough about an issue to raise an objection. Should Mr Raab, or any other MP who feels the same, want to find an appropriate method of dealing with these emails, I'd think setting up a spreadsheet with columns for 'yes, I agree with you' and 'no, I don't' would suffice.

    Had he received a tonne of template emails supporting the proposals, would this have been a problem? I suspect not. But then democracy can be such a bore.

  • http://www.oplac.org David

    What an idiot the MP is. He doesn't seem to understand that his constituents might want an easy way to contact him rather than sending snail mail. But when conservative MPs want to reply to consitituents they use a standard Conservative Party response. (see the BBC campaign responses). One rule for them.

    Keep up the good work and my thanks to the idiot MP and Radio 4 for bringing the excellent 38degrees site to my attention.

  • Magapanthus

    This is ridiculous. Dominic Rabb is paid for by the public purse. His house of commons address is paid for by the public. If his constituents, with the assistance of 38 degrees, want to contact him, using a proforma, then he has in my opinion, no grounds to oppose this. Just because it is a proforma, it doesn't detract from the fact that someone has taken the time and trouble to contact him about a particular issue that they are obviously concerned about. He doesn't have a leg to stand on and will surely lose this case if he decides to pursue it. What arrogance!!

  • Joan2312

    Typical Tory arsehole

  • Dominic Fisher

    Poor choice of campaign. I agree with the MP.

  • jonathanl64

    I used to live in his constituency, in fact for almost 25 years! I wish I did now, I would tell Mr Raab what I thought of him, and that he wouldn't ever be getting my vote (I used to vote Tory too!)

  • jonathanl64

    Except to Mr Raab who doesn't want us to know his email address!

  • Andy

    Just heard the interview on Radio 4. I thought 38 degrees came across really badly…I agree with the MP.

  • http://www.goodporkbadpork.com/2010/08/conservative-mp-tried-to-remove-email-address-from-websites/ Conservative MP tried to remove email address from websites | GoodPorkBadPork.com

    [...] website 38 Degrees today printed an exchange between a member of staff and Raab, in which he demanded the site stop forwarding emails from [...]

  • Jack

    http://www.facebook.com/pages/Dom-Raab-for-Eshe… (facebook page)

    http://www.youtube.com/user/DomRaab (you tube channel)

    http://votegeek.org.uk/esher-and-walton/ (a list of the people he fought against – includes his personal email address)

    http://christinalouisemartin.blogspot.com/2010/… (more publishing of his email addresses)

    Etc etc etc

    Does Mr Rabb really think he can suddenly remove himself from the public domain? Indeed – he has put himself firmly in the public domain by becoming an MP. If you can't stand the heat….

  • http://spennypost.blogspot.com/ John Spence

    From Johnny's e-mail:

    “It appears that you are asking to be removed from a system that quickly and easily allows your constituents to get in touch with you about issues they care about.”

    There is more than one system that allows constituents 'quickly and easily' get in touch with MPs that require little more, if any more, effort than it does to sign up to a 38 Degrees spam-mail. To my mind, if you want to do petitions, fine, but if I was in Raab's position, or any other MP's position, I'd pay more attention to a personally written letter or e-mail than I would from some organisation, one of many, that sends copious amounts of spam, deliberately so, in the knowledge that they're fighting amongst the hundreds of other groups to get the attention of MPs.

    If people seek less effort than tapping out an e-mail or posting a letter to participate, then really this organisation would be better off spending its resources examining why that is rather than facilitating unthinking, uncritical 'engagement'. Wonder what the Jarrow marchers would have made of this type of 'participation'??

  • http://spennypost.blogspot.com/ John Spence

    Hear, hear

  • http://stevebeasant.mycouncillor.org.uk/2010/08/09/tory-mp-attempts-to-remove-email-address-from-websites-making-it-difficult-for-constituents-to-contact-him/ Steve Beasant | TORY MP ATTEMPTS TO REMOVE EMAIL ADDRESS FROM WEBSITES – MAKING IT DIFFICULT FOR CONSTITUENTS TO CONTACT HIM

    [...] website 38 Degrees today printed an exchange between a member of staff and Raab, in which he demanded the site stop forwarding emails from [...]

  • Sense and Sensibility

    Rather than spend hours debating the rights and wrongs of this, can someone just give the guy some training on email filtering and grouping. I'm sure it will enable him to serve his constituents better.

  • Richb

    I've just emailed him to empathise with his plight. Oh…

  • Jaspreet Shaheed

    I think this is a useful debate to be having- what balance to strike between an MPs accessibility and their effectiveness. If it truly is an enormous drain on his time, responding to e-mails, then his stance seems justified. I'd like to know though whether, as others have suggested, a lack of computer literacy is a factor. If so, then I think this is something our MPs should be trained up on.

  • treborc

    Remove the idiot from the site, why bother with morons like this, we all know politician are now careerist, I cannot even be bothered contacting mine anymore.

  • Marjory1974

    Recently it was reported in the national press that many people contacted the Treasury website with questions and they were all very disappointed to receive the same standard letter back from the government treasury. Obviously it was a standard response. If the government can send out stock responses to communications they received through their website then I see no reason why this cannot be reversed. I cannot see the argument here, whether the MP receives 1 or 1000 communications from his constituents, then he should answer them it is his job, it is what taxpayers pay him for. People communicate electronically these days, not many people will write an actual letter, of course Dominic Raab knows this. If it was OK for people to have his email address before he was made an MP, it should be even more acceptable now and as it is his official House of Commons email and address actually paid for by the taxpayer, I think he has an absolute cheek referring to communications though that as a “nuisance”. Nice to know he has such an opinion of his constituents now he is elected, this really does a lot to restore the public's faith in their politicians – not!

  • Phil Randal

    If he can't hack the responsibilities of being an MP, he should resign forthwith.

    Hmm, that would make a good campaign…..

  • http://twitter.com/scotslawstudent scotslawstudent

    I will begin by pointing out that I'm not an MP.

    That said, I do wonder what else he would be doing with his time if not answering correspondence.

  • Chas999

    What an idiot you are. You don't seem to understand that constituents are able to send emails direct to their MP and Mr Raab has clearly stated that he welcomes these and will reply to them. What he cannot deal with is this bunch of cunts at 38 Degrees causing trouble by getting hundreds of people to send proforma emails from this dreary little left wing lobby group to him. These muppets are effectively causing MPs' mailboxes to be paralysed by spam, preventing them from dealing with real constituents' real concerns. And if you think AV is a good idea, wait until that system causes the oily little creep Ed Miliband to emerge as the risibly unelectable leader of the Labour party.

  • Phil

    Kester; what difference then between proforma emails and a petition? Other than the fact that each individual email typically commands a response which is time and money whereas if it were an organised petition then the response could go to the organisers who could then disseminate the response to the signatories (or, were the signatory data in a readily processable form, the MPs office could organise the delivery of responses).

    MPs are overreliant on postal replies even if the original enquiry was by email, which is discouraging to say the least, considering the cost incurred merely in materials and postage – not particularly 'green' either.

    38deg would perhaps better serve the interests of those who wish to petition their MPs on common issues by providing a proper petitions service which also allows the MPs to respond once, directly, and electronically to the list of signatories.

    Then, those of us who can be bothered or means to circumvent whatever possible barriers may exist to penning one's own letter or email can actually hope to get a response that at least takes account of some of the points raised rather than simply being lumped in with the “me too” crowd when it comes to response time, the MP still sees how many people feel aggrieved about an issue, and the people who didn't/couldn't write their own letter get the same response they would have received anyway.

  • Maisy

    Until the DT take down his personal email addy here: http://bit.ly/bdcLv1 why should 38 Degrees do so?

  • Phil

    Good lord, it's not my day.

    Last paragraph, first line “can be bothered or *have the* means to circumvent”.

  • Phil

    Hammer -> Nail.

    Thanks Dan.

  • Phil

    With respect to photocopied replies, I have seen in one instance where myself and a colleague who share an MP sent seperate emails to our MP, both hand-penned, actually received the same response – actually, more accurately, because mine was written a month after his, I received the response sent to my colleague. We could make out the capital letters of his name where it had been blacked out.

    Pretty depressing, but it is unimaginable that MPs would spend the time individually replying to identikit emails and we simply got lumped in with the cut and paste senders, because this sort of thing is handled by secretaries who are told “anything with so and so on it, send this letter I've written about the party line” – let's be honest, if you've got an MP who votes with a party whip then you're rarely going to get anything other than a party statement in response.

  • Phil
  • http://twitter.com/scotslawstudent scotslawstudent

    I agree with that. If an MP receives identical emails from a million people on one topic is he supposed to ignore them all because it's annoying and if the voters cared enough they'd write their own messages? No, he's clearly got an issue that a million people care enough to email him about.

  • http://twitter.com/scotslawstudent scotslawstudent

    That happened to me too, and as the saying goes:

    A: It's confusing to read conversations out of order.
    Q: What's the problem with top posting?

  • NeceJP

    MPs need time to do their main work (legislation and Govt scrutiny) and they cannot afford a team of people to handle all their correspondence. An MP is not the personal social worker of his constituents, he is not the delegate either, he is the representative. He cannot do the important work of holding the Executive to account if he is spam emailed.

    I agree wholeheartedly with 38 Degrees work, but there are more elegant and effective ways to do this.

  • http://www.we-found-it.net/?p=67437 Don’t email me – Tory MP | We-found-it

    [...] website 38 Degrees today printed an exchange between a member of body and Raab, in which he demanded the place kibosh progress emails from [...]

  • jacketpotato

    I feel that you SHOULD comply with the MPs response.

    If he feels that pro-forma e-mails prevent him from helping constituents, that is for him to decide. MPs have extremely limited resources, and staff are horrendously overworked. If his constituents don't like it, they can vote him out – its not up to you.

    I also feel that continuing to have his e-mail in a form after being requested not to makes 38 Degrees appear childish and undermines your work.

    Perhaps you could have a system whereby your form tells his constituents that the MP opted not to receive a template and that they can make their own judgment on that at the ballot box, and encourage them to write their own e-mail?

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Richard-Tebboth/100001385114533 Richard Tebboth

    This has certainly been wonderful publicity for 38 degrees

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Richard-Tebboth/100001385114533 Richard Tebboth

    Dominic has certainly provided 38 degrees with some wonderful publicity.

  • http://owsblog.blogspot.com Span Ows

    Spam is a nuisance, most peopel delete it and everyone is ADVISED to delte it; it doesn't matter who it is from. Some of the coments on here show an amazing lack og knowledge as to use of t' interweb.

  • Span Ows

    So “the responsibilities of being an MP” mean accepting spam? Should all MPs also be egged, tarred and feathered, beaten by drunken/junky yoofs? However good that may seem (!!) if what we don't accept ourselves should be accepted by the elected representatives we will all head downhill fast.

  • Span Ows

    Sorry for the multiple typos!

  • http://twitter.com/scotslawstudent scotslawstudent

    Yeah, that's really what I thought it was – lots of meetings, voting and answering letters.

  • JBK5

    Are MPs really really THICK!! Ok. Don't answer that. We already know the answer from his leader who does not know law, constitution, parliamentary process or diplomatic consideration and sensitivity. All MPs need to be open to all who wish to lobby them. We all have a right to be heard on the subjects most dear to us. And if he gets a huge mail sack and a full inbox that means we are most passionate about this subject. Switching off his e-mails from relatives of soldiers coming back as well is he? What did he think it would be like? Cream Teas at Tiffanys?

  • http://twitter.com/scotslawstudent scotslawstudent

    It depends what you mean by spam. I don't think anyone's selling the guy dodgy off brand medicines. It's people who he represents signalling their view about an issue by sending him a message that they didn't personally write but represents their views. It's like ticking a box on a ballot sheet – you're not writing an original message but you signal your opinion nonetheless.

    If the guy doesn't have the nous to filter all the form emails into a big folder and say “huh, a lot of constituents are emailing about this topic, I should take that on board” instead of “huh, I'm getting a lot of email, I should go on the radio and complain bitterly about that” then he's not really what you want in an elected representative.

  • JBK5

    So is mine. Cut me of from her e-mail list. Only important subjects I want to raise. Never mind I have a cunning plan…….

  • JBK5

    If you put your concern in the e-mail heading and what you want him to do. “For” “Against” he knows what it is about. Does not have to read the rest unless he wants to. Just count the pros and cons. Not that difficult. How does he know unless we can tell him. Cameron and Clegg say about the Big Society and being able to influence and lead politicians and govt. Not them lead you. Do they read their own manifesto? OK. I know the answer to that one as well.

  • http://twitter.com/scotslawstudent scotslawstudent

    What did you think of the MP telling the 38 degree guy to “take a deep breath” when he disagreed with him? It's a classic move to make the other speaker seem out of control (whether or not they are) and to interrupt them. He really lost a lot of credibility with me when he pulled that one.

  • http://twitter.com/scotslawstudent scotslawstudent

    “A right” is a commonly misunderstood term. I don't think you actually have a right not to receive emails, just like you don't have a right not to get post. If the content of the email or the conduct of the sender is in some way unlawful that is a completely separate issue but the pure question of do you have a right to a clean inbox is that no, you don't. If you're connected to the public internet with a publicly accessible email account it's up to you (or if you're really lucky your secretary) to keep your inbox tidy. That's doubly so if you're nominally working for the public and as part of that you're expected to answer emails that they send you.

    Compare it to a teacher receiving Christmas cards, some of them will be handmade with thoughtful, personalised letters and some will be from a supermarket multipack. They may not fulfil a useful purpose (neither kind of card will likely boost the child's grade, for example) but unless they contain some sort of obscene threat there's not a lot that the teacher can really do to stop his students sending them (besides saying “stop sending me Christmas cards”).

  • Bollocks

    Babbs and 38 Steps are a self appointed bunch of rabble rousers as seen today with the Radio 4 PM story.
    They are a non accountable organisation who offer the misinformed a vent for their own pet hates at the cost of spamming Cllrs and MPs with pointless e-mails.
    If you want to let your ELECTED representatives know what your view on a subject is drop them an e-mail or write them a letter … don’t use this self appointed and unregulated lobby firm as your voice will be lost in the spam filter!

  • Jonny Rimes

    You are correct, spam is unsolicited email, not emails from constituents which is part of the job he's being paid to do by tax payers, none of us gets to pick and choose what parts of our jobs we like doing and refuse to do the rest. This is why we need the ability to recall MPs like this.

  • Bollocks

    Tiffanys?
    Cream Teas?

  • I2amawolf

    Another militant , self appointed group trying to to increase it's profile through publicity . By sending all these emails , they are wasting taxpayers money because of the time this MP has to spend on them . they should reimbourse the taxpayer for every minute of wasted time or they are being hypocritical . If they have the time and money to waste in their non jobs in these times of austerity then fine , but the public servants have not .!

  • neon

    Seems like he's get all his fellow nasty right winger tories crawling out of their holes, kinda proves the underhand nature of his attack. It's nothing to do with emails at all, any email software can block the emails easily without fuss if he should choose to do so, this is an attack on freedom of speech by a odious little Tory who like most MPs is more interested in pursuing his own agenda than representing his constituency.

  • I2amawolf

    YOU are the thick idiot .! I can only assume that you are on benefits and are now worried that you will have them cut and have to get a 5.65 an hour paying job .
    I quote you .
    “his leader who does not know law, constitution, parliamentary process or diplomatic consideration and sensitivity.”
    Oh you mean like when your leader Blair illegally took this country to war in Iraq and Afghanistan after a million people marched against it it their name , is that what you mean by “diplomatic consideration and sensitivity.”
    Or the psychologically dysfunctional , deluded Mr Brown when he bankrupted the country with his prudence .
    I am sure this MP would be most sympathetic to any emails from our soldiers , if he could get to them through the junk email .
    For your information you ignorant ignuramus The Ritz is the place to have cream teas , and Tiffany's sells jewellery , but alas I do not think you will do either in your meagre life .
    Consider yourself bitten by the wolf .

  • I2amawolf

    OUCH !!
    I think someone is a bit bitter that their party lost the right to break the country down further .

  • http://edpatonwilliams.co.uk/2010/08/10/the-continuing-problem-of-38-degrees-identikit-emails/ The Continuing Problem of 38 Degrees’ Identikit Emails « Ed Paton-Williams

    [...] his email address from their system due to being overwhelmed by emails has provoked unfounded outrage from the campaign [...]

  • Logic

    Instead of spamming the MP's email with cloned emails why don't you just contact him normally. It would solve both sides a lot of hassle.

  • Logic

    The MP has given multiple methods for his constituents to meet him in private or in public. Sending dozens of cloned emails is not getting the point across and its all together quite childish

  • don_simon1977

    Interesting given his previous article and campaign against “the assault on liberty” when he wrote, in August 2009, “we are losing sight of our core freedoms – the crown jewels of our democracy.”

    I'd say the right to easily contact your MP is another crown jewel?!

    http://conservativehome.blogs.com/platform/2009…

  • Al

    what should you do? Stop e-mailing him as he's asked! Muppets.

  • Marjory1974

    There are people on here that are trying their best to defend the indefensible. Surely this is the “Big Society” in action? Surely this people showing their “social responsibility”? It matters not that people used a proforma type template so what? It was an actual person, a constituent of Mr Raab's who triggered it. It seems Mr Raab has forgotten who pays him and who pays for his public email address, besides how “green” is it to urge people to use paper to send responses to him in writing? This just arrogance coming from yet another wet behind the ears child politician, can you see Hesseltine or Tony Benn getting themselves into a stupid public spat like this? It really does look bad on the Tories and Mr Raab and it has made the national press this morning, it looks so bad that the cynic in me is wondering if it was a ploy to cover up another bad Tory news day, concerning “Milton the Milk Snatcher” allegedly paying £13.000 to her very own husband to carry out research on whether milk for nursery school children does them any good? As an ex nurse like Milton and a mother of 3 and a grandmother of 7 I could have told her for £13 quid, that of course it makes a difference, it makes a huge difference, the fact that her husband returned a “no” which backs up Milton's actions trying to snatch milk from babies, is not at all surprising, in fact it is £13.000 unsurprising.I am just wondering if Raab and Milton will now get “re-called” as per promised before the election? If the roll of should have been re-called is anything to go by ie Nick Clegg; David Laws, Jeremy Hunt, Crispin Blunt and Michael Gove are anything to go by, they won't of course.
    As usual mealy mouthed words from lying corrupt politicians and nothing changes and more damage is done daily to our political system, this time by the “New Politics” of this lying sham of a lousy vicious vindictive fascist coalition nightmare of a government, led by a gaffe a minute prime minister!

    To Mr Rabb, answer your constituents you mealy mouthed Tory weasel, it is what we pay you to do, not go radio wasting your time and our money whingeing because you are forced to do some work. If your leader had his way you should be sacked, then forced to return and do exactly the same job for NOTHING or risk having your entitlement of receiving job seekers allowance reduced or stopped, Scameron calls it your “social responsibility” and the “Big Society” Oh and while you are at it, don't forget to don your high vis vest and pick up litter, probably all those stock response letters you would have sent out from the House of Commons your “preferred” way of communicating – idiot!

  • http://ianshires.mycouncillor.org.uk/2010/08/10/tory-mp-tells-constituents-%e2%80%9cdon%e2%80%99t-email-me%e2%80%a6it%e2%80%99s-becoming-a-real-nuisance%e2%80%9d/ Ian Shires » Blog Archive » Tory MP Tells Constituents “Don’t email me…it’s becoming a real nuisance”

    [...] recent article on the 38 degrees website entitled Dominic Raab MP Tells Constituents “Don’t email me…it’s becoming a real nuisance” reveals that Tory MP for Esher and Walton, DominicRaab has threatened legal action against the [...]

  • Simon Woodward

    Via 38 degrees, constituents are afforded the opportunity to email their MP directly about any issue that concerns them, not every member agrees with every issue and not every MP is emailed by every member. Not everyone is an expert in these issues, not everyone is confident to speak with authority, not everyone has the time to write letters, and not everyone has the time to attend surgeries.

    You seem to think that simply because people are putting their name to someone elses words that this makes their point less valid. Why is this so ? We all get that individually written letters are more likely to get noticed, however why is it that if I read a template, completely agree with it, put my name to it and send it that this makes this letter less valid. It is STILL my opinion, I am STILL a consitient and I am STILL drawing attention to my MP about this issue.

    If 38 degrees were bulk emailing all MPs with their own agenda then you would be getting close to spam, however they provide the facility for constituents to directly contact their own MPs about specific issues that concern them and that they agree with. I really fail to see why anyone is trying to belittle this approach that is getting people to engage with their MPs more than they ever have.

  • Phil

    Actually, there is a long and protracted argument online about whether actually having an email account is by itself an invitation for all and sundry to send you email (of any sort). Typically when people put their email addresses up there is a contextual invitation to use it. (Send me emails relating to $subject, $company, etc)

    I would argue that this is somewhat a grey area for the same reason that having a letter box is not an invitation for all and sundry to send you junk mail. The contents itself does not have to be illegal to constitute a nuisance in the eyes of the law.

  • Sam Liddicott

    Should democratic representation should be restricted to those who can present a coherent argument? And those that can't should not be permitted the help of formal groups?

    38 degrees puts constituents in touch with their MP's on issues that have been through a process of public selection by voters and helps said constituents to put forth a coherent argument.

    Perhaps this MP is annoyed because it is more visible when he ignores as a group the same people he was easily able to ignore individually.

  • Sam Liddicott

    If you'd tried any form of activism you'd know how hard it is to “get” anyone to do anything at all.

    You seem to think that democratic representation should be limited to the confident and eloquent, and god-forbid, should anyone need the help of a researcher to look into the consequences of proposed legislation and write up the effects (like 38 degrees) should anyone actually try to make it easier to express their view (yes, they select which publicly selected 38 degrees issues they agree with) that all of a sudden the view is worthless.

    Why don't you just restrict voting to members of the tory party or those with degrees?

    (Yes I am a member of my local conservative association, but this MP makes me ashamed of that affiliation)

  • Sam Liddicott

    Well said!

    The ballot paper is a template and the submitted vote is a template response. If it was good enough to elect them, why is it suddenly worthless?

    The answer: MP's don't want to be accountable to a collective because the judgement will be public and perhaps final – they'd rather be accountable only to individuals, and in private.

  • Sam Liddicott

    I'll summarise your post as: I'm all right Jack.

    Only it's a democracy, so it's not just about you

  • Sam Liddicott

    Pro-forma emails are bound to be counter productive to all MP's WHO WANT TO DISCOURAGE NON-PARTY CONTROLLED LOCAL POLITICAL INVOLVEMENT

    i.e. non-democratic MPs.

    there, fixed it for ya!

  • Sam Liddicott

    NeceJP; clearly put but I think you are wrong.

    Because every message is sent by a voter, MP's who treat this as a non-democratic lobbying group will harm only themselves – and blaming it on the method will not save them much.

    You are right that it damages the credibility of 38 degrees – but largely among the political classes whose responses will see them made irrelevant – so is it really a big problem?

    I see it is an ideal chance for all non-democratic MP's to identify themselves ready for removal in a few years time.

  • Nico K

    I am a resident of Esher. Dominic's attitude is worrying. Every business and organisation has to deal with new tech / new communication, and there's a simple fix for this one: as each and every email generated from a 38 degree template contains same key prhases, set up your Outlook (or Thunderbird or Googlemail…) with a rule to “route” all these messages into a separate folder. That folder will indicate the volume of messages received in the matter – a great and instant indicator on how his constituents may feel on a specific matter – a free Online poll in his local community, surely that is a PLUS and not a hassle? Come on Dominic, find that “create rule” button in your Email software and deal with it !

  • Ralph

    after the MP has acknowledged the fact that a lot of people have sent him emails on this subject and says he'll do something about it, surely one should stop pestering him with the same emails, it's just Nagging and that gets people NOWHERE.

    He's asked to stop being emailed on that subject with cloned emails and suggested using other methods to communicate with him, so do so!

  • Ralph

    also, the Big Society was never to do with harrassing an MP with cloned emails, was it?

  • http://twitter.com/WillHumphreys Will Humphreys

    What an idiot. So now when I agree completely with something someone has said I am expected to jumble it around a bit so it isn't exactly the same as what someone else has said.
    Sounds like someone doesn't want to do his job. Glad he isn't my MP.

  • Ashley Kennedy

    MPs are paid to do a job of work. That job entails being in contact and representing their constituents. If an MP is unable or unwilling to do the job then a method of recalling that MP needs to be put in place.

  • Phoneynamus

    It totally seems to me that alot of the people critiscising 38 degrees are a bit shortsighted.

    In fact one of the responses that public servants have better things to do with their time seems to me to be a bit of a contradiction. what are public servants for if not to serve the public. If the public choose this as a method of communcating to the person in charge of representing them then whats the big deal? His entire job is to represent the people no matter how they communicate thier wants and needs. He should be responsive to the people he is representing. the minute he stops listening to what they are saying (However they are saying it), he ceases to become an agent of his elected body and become an agent of his own opinions and as such we run the risk of having people in power who nobody agrees with. Thats how things like illegal wars get started. Take the war in Afganisatan. very few actively agreed with the war and public opinion was heavily on the side of not going to war. However as the public body was not listened to we went anyway. result: expensive war that has not yielded any benifits worth the expense that has been invested in it.

    Any method of communication ignored becomes needs and wants ignored. The various people that constitude the public body have different ways in which they prefer to communicate and as such this in its self represents in some small way the way in which the public live. Through this an understanding of the public that public servants represent an be attained. As such to refuse to accept emails from a body such as this represents that the person in question is far lacking in an adequate understanding of how the people of the body public live their day to day lives.
    So 38 degrees should not be critised, in critising it you are critising the body public, who use it to inform and enlighten and as such by proxy yourself for participating in the form of goverment used by this country. In essense critising peoples right to contact their local representative through whatever means is almost like saying their is a responcible way of communicating and members of the public that communicate through means such as campaign groups should be excluded from the democratic process.
    All ways of communcating are important and all should be aknowledged and utilised if the purpose of your job is to be a representative of a large group of people who's commonality stems purely from geographical location and not nessesarily interests of thoughts.

    Also someone made a minimum wage poke at someone and i just have to say really? are the people seeking jobs not just as entitiled to a voice as any other person? In fact do they not have even more reason to have their voice heard so that policies that will help then, the people at the bottom of the ladder, improve their life will be implemented? As such its a bit harsh to hint that people on minium wage don'r sereve an opinion. Also Brown (while i don't agree with his policies) did not bankrupt the nation. United Kingdon is not bankrupt. Greece went bankrupt and the events their highlight how good our position is in comparison, particularly as we have not needed a bailout as we still have available funds.

  • HC

    Dominic has made a complete twonk of himself on this. Why? Because if you don't want to receive emails from a particular sender you can either create a filter in Outlook or configure your Junk mail settings. Ironically, I dod sympathise with his annoyance at being bothered by a bunch of left wing lunatics like 38degrees but by going off like this rather than just dealing with the problem directly plays into the hands of those who run this site and make him look anti-democratic.

    Hold gun, take aim at own feet, FIRE…

  • http://twitter.com/scotslawstudent scotslawstudent

    Well, yes, but if someone put up their email and said “Do not send me any email whatsoever” I'm not sure what particular power that would have, so I'm not sure about the effect of “[only] send me emails relating to X” either. I imagine the House of Commons site had his email with something like “write to this MP at: [address]” and not even he is saying that taking that away means that you don't get to write to your MP at that address. Similarly, in real life there's absolutely no way you could have a right to specify how people talk to you in the street.

    The problem is that having a letter box is, at the heart of it, a way to receive mail from the outside world. You would need to be able to dictate to that outside world (this is one meaning of “having a [real] right”) what specific kind of mail you receive to be able to not get mail you didn't want (of which bulk mail is one kind).

    I think it's one of those things that you're completely entitled not to like, and there's no reason why you should like it, but at the same time is not going to be breaking any laws. If, through that letterbox, you get mail sent in some way which is unlawful (threatening, obscene, intended to harass you, etc) you can then do something about it but what you can do before it gets to you?

  • johnnychatterton

    Hi Sindy, just to reassure you we read every message sent to 38 Degrees and make every effort to reply to all of them. Thanks for pointing out that the message you see is a bit misleading – because it doesn't reflect what we actually do. I've altered it to read “We read every email and will do our best to get back to you – but at busy times we may not be able to immediately.”

  • Ralph

    is that website encouraging people to bombard his inbox with a tonne of cloned and unnecessary emails? I think not, therefore, let this man's email be taken down from this website

  • johnnychatterton

    Hi Phil, if you're logged in to the comments system you can go back and edit typos when you spot them – perfect for when you spot a typo just after you click “post”.

  • johnnychatterton

    Hi guys, thanks for your comments. We're always looking for ways to improve the blog and have been trialling the “top posting” system for a while. We found it is better for highlighting the most recently added comments – but since most blogs list comments the other way we may trial going back to the conventional method.

  • http://twitter.com/mhmedia Peter Garner

    Maybe he'd like us to fax everything to him instead ;-) That's it! We should write the email, then fax them!

  • http://blogs.ft.com/westminster/2010/08/dominic-raab-is-not-alone/ Dominic Raab is not alone | Westminster Blog | FT.com

    [...] hold of him. His attempts to get it removed from the public domain (as appears to be the case from the email correspondence published on 38 degrees’ website) runs entirely counter to the idea of representative [...]

  • Dick

    This is a bollocks article, because you are just spamming him for 38 degrees benefit, not that of the constituents

  • http://www.libdemvoice.org/dominic-raab-emails-20661.html Is annoying people the way to persuade them to change their mind?

    [...] Degrees have printed the full email exchange on their own site and overall come out far the better from the exchange, though their own reliance [...]

  • http://twitter.com/scotslawstudent scotslawstudent

    To clarify I was talking about the email thread in the post itself which starts at 10:37 August 5th and ends at 8:06 July 6th.

  • Yellowsmurf

    The solution is very simple. People are sending him a preprepared letter, so he should have a preprepared reply. It could be something like this:

    Dear X

    I am writing in response to your enquiry about electoral reform.

    I do/ do not believe that electoral reform is necessary because…

    I trust that this information is helpful. If I can be of further assistance with this, or any other matter, please do not hesitate to get in touch.

    Yours sincerely
    Dominic Rabb MP.

    It would take all of five minutes to write and five seconds to personalise for each constituent.

  • AshamedTory

    Dom – you should be careful what you wish for!

    When you wanted that comfy seat on the green leather, didnt you realise you had to WORK!
    Worse than WORK, you had to TALK to COMMON PEOPLE!
    You must have been shocked when COMMON PEOPLE told you that you're WRONG – no wonder you wanted to SUE ABOUT THAT.

    Do the right thing Dom, apologise, get the admins in Parly to re-publish your address, go to one of those nice restaurants, order big slice of HUMBLE PIE.

    eMail may be evil and annoying but so were New Labour and we don't want your behaviour to help them back into power.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Lisa-Dillon/1396796056 Lisa Dillon

    Yes, we had the same stock response from MPs to the home education community's objections to the Badman Report last year. Thousands of adults and children took time and care over their letters and all we got back was a bunch of identikit platitudes, no issues addressed, thoroughly meaningless and a total insult.

  • http://www.lifedownloaded.com/blog/38-degrees-of-communication-feat-dominic-raab-mp/ 38 Degrees of communication (feat. Dominic Raab MP)

    [...] following was the first email that was sent to 38 Degrees: “On 06/07/2010 8:06 AM, Dominic Raab [...]

  • JBK5

    Wolf – et al.
    All elected representatives are there to hear and respond to all who wish to raise any issue. He is there to represent all constituents. Not just those who voted for him. In regard to certain issues they may get communications from individuald constiuents about road safety, child welfare, education or electoral reform or disabled. They are also open to lobbying from all interest groups. That means disabled groups, parents groups, unions, electoral reform groups and weigh one against the other and all th arguements. So an elected representative has to be open to all – adn know how to deal with it.

    I will not nit pick about Tiffanys. I have other more important issues. Of course I am passionate about things. I am most passionate about people, their welfare and welbeing. I have worked in health and care idustry, taught children and adults, been involved in acquired head injuries adn been carer for parent with dementia and severely mentally handicapped boy with severe challenging behaviour. And worked full time and some crap jobs inbetween (On less than the minimum wage for 60,70 and 120 hrs a week. Can't say I am a shirker) As a lot of situations are avoidable and caused by the actions or negligence of others of course I would like to chang it. 7 million admissions to A&E last year were due to violence and abuse. A lot of child problems could be addressed and aleviated by good teaching and stable situations and environment in the first place. In 1992 there were arund 750,000 acquired head injuries per year. Two thirds of them will never be fit for work again. Either with cognitive problems such as memory, organisation and executive skills and severe flashbacks or headaches. Others, quite a few 100,000s will be in a severe disabled situation for life. Severe head injury and severe spinal injury. That dos not include the service men coming back from Iraq and Afganistan. The numbers come back for the dead. The numbers do not come back for the injuired or the ones with Combat Stress. Non curable. Those from WWII, Northern Ireland, Falklands, Desert Sorm and Bosnia are still fully disabled and not functioning due to combat stress. There is a whole vast litigation system run by the courts and lawyers that suck u billions of public money while they atke some poor soul through the litigation process for years without a penny. I think we should look at that. One solicitor;s firm has earned 2 billion from just representing two guys who should have got their compensation for 1950s Pacific Attol Bomb experitment ages ago. Same with miners compensation. Not a penny. Nearer to dying as in their 70s 80s and lawyers earning millions adn billions.

    I have been fully involved in improving things and taking things forward. I am not for any politician or any party because like many after so many decades you find that none give a shit or or really have their feet on the ground or ear to what is actually going on. I have been fully involved and fully active in all the things I am strong about. But they are the one who are in power and in the position of either making things better or making things worse.

    I do not have much quality of life and have not got out adn have not been on a holiday for years. But today I have been supporting a carer of a mentally handicapped boy to get him to the doctor. And I gave £200 over to help a man who is ex-services and war wounded, with ampuations and genitals removed and just got out of hospital with cancer keep the wolf from the door as the local council do not recognised his war pension and have taken off his housing benefit whil he was in hospital having his cancer treatment.

    Not an angel nor a saint. But just a human being and a woman – a traditional one. One that this Big Society is supposed to be about.

    As so many people are in situation that could be avoided or made different and simpler I aim to be fully involved in changing things and keeping my MP and politicians informed until they do.

    And yes I do have arthritis in all my lower limbs and it has been giving me a bit of jip today. But thanks for asking. Still get about and do what I can as do many.

  • constituent

    Dominica Raab had already published his parliamentary email address on the web already, so his arguement doesn't stand up. You can't simply withdraw it afterwards and expect that to hold up. In fact his email is still on the web he forgot, it is here http://w4mp.org/html/personnel/jobs/disp_job.as… I am assuming that he published this himself !

    Applicants should email Dominic Raab ( raabd@parliament.uk ) with a covering letter and a 1 page CV, marking the email ‘volunteer post’. Applicants should specify the period of time they would be available for.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Lisa-Dillon/1396796056 Lisa Dillon

    It's not spam. If lots of people have similar views, why should it matter whether they use the same letter or a hundred different ones? Any MP unable to compartmentalise emails by issue shows an amazing lack of knowledge of using the internet. MPs ought to realise that people send pro forma emails precisely because they do care about the issue, but may lack the skills and confidence to adequately express their concerns. Democracy shouldn't only be open to those able to pen a good letter.

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  • constituent

    but as a constituent, I can't send him an email, he's removed his email address from the parlimentary web-site !

  • JBK5

    Re: BOLLOCKS!

    CREAM TEAS?

    TIFFANYS?

    Tiffanys is not just a jewellers but a coffee shop in Bolton: And probably the name for a lot of little coffee shops across the nation.

    (Advert)
    Tiffany's Coffee Shop in Bolton, We're Passionate About Coffee

    I did suppose Dominic Ruud would be slumming it with the masses. Maybe even Greggs, Wetherspoons or Yates.

    Where I come from Ritz is a cracker with squeeshy sweet cheese inside.

    If Holly Golightly can have Breakfast at Tiffany's and is an ego centred socialite. Why not Dominic?

  • I2amawolf

    Ahh , so I was right ,you are living on benefits in Bolton , If your local coffee shop wishes to attach itself to a prominent brand , why should we see you as a victim because of your lack of aspiration .

  • I2amawolf

    What has this rant got to do with the article ? You should work for 38 degrees , it would seem that you are into wasting peoples time also .!!

  • I2amawolf

    Glad you got so much time on your hands during this period of austerity to be so trivial .

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Lisa-Dillon/1396796056 Lisa Dillon

    So in short you have deduced that JBK5 is:
    a) thick;
    b) on benefits;
    c) unable to make minimum wage;
    d) a Labour supporter;
    e) pro illegal wars; and
    f) unable to shop in the appropriate venue.

    Sherlock Holmes need not shit himself.

  • JBK5

    I don't live on benefits and I don't live in Bolton. And as for aspiration I have probably done more than you have in the whole of your life. 4 degrees 2 professional qualifications and a highly respected reputation in everything I did. But yes when you have a severly dementiad mother for 15 years it kind of dampens what you can do and what you can work around it – and all my musical instruments were sold to get her through. Can't be any more aspiration and endeavour than to get your most loved and precious family member through the worse things in their lives and get them the best and safesta dn fight incompetent services and professionals. But I have done much and saved an employer £400,000 and another £12,000 and won most of the cases I was given. Not ambitious? No verve? You are talking to the wrong person. My focus has been on others and I have had to take a back burner. That's how it goes. But stopped? Never. Getting back to my music. and got a PC programmed keyboard where I can create and score a whole orchestra without having to put pen to paper to do it all myelf – as I used to. Speaking to the wrong person. I have done it all and been the best – and aim to be the best and do it all again. members of Royal Chartered societies and got patents under our belts. hate idiots. Whether it is in welfare, politics, science or music. Want to get on with it and get them out of the way. People who have to take time off and look after people are not stupid or to be sidelined. Infact freeing them up will free up a lot of intelligent people who can still contribute to society. A highly skilled professional and engineer and scientist can be pulled off his job and out of society due to having to tend to a dependent. When a cheaper option of a relevant cares system would save money and free expertise to remain in work. Its all mad the way things are done. ie: Social Services care system SOS will charge you thousands of pounds a week for hours and service which will cost you just tens or just over a hundred pounds. Disability aids will charge you hundreds and thousands for aids which when you look at them are a few pieces of wood and plastic and construction that your local handyman could chuck together for less. I have cut costs and saved money. But when I say and inform MPs etc they don't want to know. Look blankly Then go off and still vote for the most expensive irrelevant and useless option. Have a lot of ambition and asperation. Surrounded by twats.

  • http://prcompany.org.uk/pr-news/im-mp-please-dont-email/ I’m an MP- Please Don’t Email Me | Online PR Company

    [...] read the full conversation, see:  38 degrees. Share this [...]

  • http://timothyjmoore.wordpress.com/2010/08/10/the-not-so-big-society/ The Not-So-Big Society « Timothy J Moore

    [...] full e-mail trail can be viewed here. Raab has responded on his personal blog stating that he prefers constituents to write to him or [...]

  • http://renaissancechambara.jp/2010/08/11/links-of-the-day-449/ renaissance chambara | Ged Carroll – Links of the day

    [...] 38 Degrees | Dominic Raab MP Tells Constituents “Don’t email me…it’s becoming a real nuisanc… – if this goes to court it may also have implications for things like media list. At the moment the Information Commissioners guidance looks as if it goes against Mr Raab [...]

  • http://www.the-vibe.co.uk/2010/08/11/one-tory-mp-v-38-degrees-why-raab-is-right/ One Tory MP v 38 Degrees – Why Raab is right » Culture and Politics: The Vibe – the voice of the digital generation

    [...] right thing by his constituents, in more ways than one, and in ways perhaps he didn’t intend.The objection 38 Degrees gave to Raab’s request and (misguided) threat to refer the organisation to the [...]

  • Pauline

    It's time these upperclass twits got over themselves and realised that the taxpayers are the masters NOT the servants. If the job of answering e-mails to their constituents who by the way pay your highly offencive salaries you could always give up your job and go on to benefits. From Paul, Liverpool.

  • AshamedTory

    If email from his constituents is spam then yes, the responsibilities of being an MP includes accepting it. But it's not spam, it's the day job, or should be.

    I listened to him on Radio 4 – gawd, I'm glad I'm not a constituent or I'd have spammed him.

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  • Yellosmurf

    They can't e-mail him directly any more because he's removed his e-mail address from his own website and the Parliament website.

    As someone who has done a bit of work with my local MP, I know that postcards, preprepared e-mails and preprinted letters which the constituent only signs are annoying (very annoying), but it is not hard to compose a reply and send that out to everyone who contacts you in that way.

    Also, the Conservative Party effectively use AV to elect their leader as well, most parties do.

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  • AshamedTory

    Raab probably thinks they are “Middle Class” – he looks down on them.
    Perhaps 38 Degrees enables those with weak literacy skills who feel strongly about this issue to express their concerns to their MP.

    Do you think Raab's getting more or less emails following his ill-informed objections to being written to?

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  • AshamedTory

    Raab probably thinks they are “Middle Class” – he looks down on them.
    Perhaps 38 Degrees enables those with weak literacy skills who feel strongly about this issue to express their concerns to their MP.

    Do you think Raab's getting more or less emails following his ill-informed objections to being written to?

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  • http://wearesocial.net/blog/2010/08/socials-monday-mashup-37/ We Are Social’s Monday Mashup #37 / we are social

    [...] MP for Esher and Walton Dominic Raab is threatening legal action against 38 Degrees for displaying his email address on their ‘contact MP’ email system. 38 Degrees, a [...]

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  • http://scrapbookidea.x10.mx/scrapbook-online/mp-makes-privacy-complaint-after-websites-publish-his-official-email/ MP makes privacy complaint after websites publish his official email | Scrapbook Idea

    [...] apologizes to rookie MP Brosseau for changing her resume …EPIC – Facebook PrivacyDominic Raab MP Tells Constituents “Don’t email me…it’s …Submit Online Complaints India, Post Complaints, Submit Consumer …Complaints Board – [...]

  • http://www.disruptiveproactivity.com/2010/09/38-degrees-pollute-the-ecosystem/ Considering the other 322 degrees in the pie-chart of everyone. | DisruptiveProactivity.com

    [...] few weeks ago, Dominic Raab MP publicly (told 38degrees (or at least, they told the press) that he didn’t want to hear from his [...]

  • http://blog.dave.org.uk/2010/10/38-degrees.html 38 Degrees | Davblog

    [...] Degrees to remove his contact details from their system. You can read blog posts from both Raab and 38 Degrees putting their sides of the story. An LBC radio programme set up a discussion between Raab and 38 [...]

  • http://newjournalismreview.com/2010/12/21/dominic-raab-mp-the-quiet-man-of-political-blogging/ Is Dominic Raab, MP, the ‘Quiet Man’ of political blogging? | New.Journalism.Review

    [...] However, Raab had to come clean when it was revealed that  he was getting an average of just TWO emails a day through  ‘Contact Your MP’. var addthis_config = [...]