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A minister just called you a Zombie

November 23rd, 2011 by

Yesterday Health Minister Simon Burns compared 38 Degrees members to zombies – for emailing our own MPs about risks to the NHS!

Have a look at a video clip of what he said about us all:

The Zombie attack

Minutes after Mr Burns spoke, 38 Degrees members started to respond:

- Sarah: So, anyone that disagrees with his policies and joins together in a democratic group to ask OUR representatives to represent us is ‘zombie-like’? Charming!
- Patrick: He finds us frightening due to the backtracks they’ve had to make recently (BSkyB, Forests, Mega Dairy). This just shows it’s working.
- Monika: Gosh, those politicians must hate the internet by now…the ‘plebs’ have a medium where they can raise their voices even after elections, it must be so annoying for them.
- Martyn: whereas MPs who slavisly follow the party line are full of life?

Add your comments below.

Let’s stand together to show Mr Burns that we’re citizens, not zombies. If thousands of us sign an open letter standing up for our right to be heard, we can publish it as an advert in a national newspaper and deliver it to Mr Burns personally in his constituency.

Add your name to the open letter to Mr Burns now.

It shouldn’t matter who you vote for or what opinion you hold. It’s still an MP’s job to listen to their voters. Our taxes pay their wages, after all!

38 Degrees has only been around for a couple of years. But already there are more than 950,000 of us. By working together we’ve helped change events for the better – like protecting our woodlands, stopping Rupert Murdoch, and standing up for our NHS.

It’s clear that when we work together, it rattles those in power – they’d rather we left them alone! They know that if enough of us stand together the days of politicians ignoring us and letting us down could be numbered.

So let’s tell Simon Burns we’re not zombies, we’re citizens standing up for what we believe in.

Here’s what other MPs are saying about Mr Burns’ comments:

Tim Farron MP, President of the Liberal Democrats, said: “I don’t think 38 Degrees members, or anyone else who takes the trouble to contact me, is a zombie. It’s a totally inappropriate way for an elected politician to talk about their voters. We should be encouraging people to get involved in the political process not insulting those who do.”

Stella Creasy MP, Labour, said: “Campaigning organisations like 38 Degrees are playing a useful role in energising Britain’s political process by encouraging the public to engage with their MPs – it’s up to us to then develop the debate and discussion they start with those we represent, either online or offline and whether we agree with them or not. Rather than calling people zombies and dismissing their concerns, ministers may wish to reflect on why their healthcare proposals have generated such a strong response from their constituents.”







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  • Anonymous

    Repeat after me: “Yes, we’re all individuals! … Yes, we are all different!”

  • K is my name

    The first one to go and eat his brains wins eternal sleep.

  • http://twitter.com/JaytonGarnett MoBro Jayton Garnett

    Pathetic dim wit.

  • Rich

    For the avoidance of doubt, why dont we contact our local MP to see if they agree with Mr Burns or not.

  • AdrianC

    To show I’m no zombie I have chosen to write individually and directly to Mr Burns, rather than sign the open letter. In my e-mail I have pointed out that if he votes for the Health Reform Bill in line with the Conservative party whip, his behaviour will be more zombie-like than ours.

  • fin

    HA HA! WOW! I do believe we have ruffled somebody feathers! He is just angry because us “zombies” and other alike are making it hard for him to be completely incompetent. True Colours?

  • Graham

    Seriously?  Is this really a good use of 38 degrees resources?  This smacks of bullying and muscle flexing to me and I will not be adding my voice to it.  I think you seriously need to consider whether activities like this actually help to improve the standing of 38 degrees and it’s members or whether in fact you’re just playing in to the hands of those who seek to discredit us.

    Grow up and stick to noble causes!

  • Alex Marsh

    He is my local MP,  he has never done anything for Chelmsford, don’t expect him to care about the NHS, he has a huge majority of Zombies and probably thinks the rest of the country are the same.

    This is the same man who when he was no longer allowed to use first class rail, uses a chauffer driven car to make the same journey as I do to work every day by bike, train and tube.  

  • JS

    There goes a man who believes he has carte blanche to legislate as he pleases without any accountability to the electorate and when opposed reacts with petty “playground” insults.
    I also wrote to Mr Burns directly (well as direct as I was able) I now have an automated acknowledgement of my email from the Dept of Health, plus a “case number”!!?? However it’s now a week on and unsurprisingly I’ve still not had the courtesy of a reply from Mr Burns or his minions.

  • Stewart Cockett

    I agree – too much clicktivism will lessen the power of opposition – don’t rise to the bait on such a trivial matter – save the energy for the time you can get to vote for a better option.

  • Laura-james1

    We surely have the right to respond preferably in a responsible manner. it is still supposed to be a democratic society and we do pay their wages and bills.

  • Jan

    When people in other countries speak out against their government’s actions, our politicians call it democracy. When we join together to speak out we are called zombies. I find his words deeply insulting.

  • Bhappy275

    Isn’t Mr Burns usually yellow, a bully and a laughing stock? DOH!

  • Cedunt

    Which campaigns, in particular, does Simon Burns think were non-issues that we were ‘riled up’ about unecessarily or on the basis of false information? He’s right that it’s easier than ever to get involved in public forums and mass campaigning.  He should take the time to look at the quality of the comments shared here before he assumes it’s unthinking.  He might even…radical, I know…use it as a resource for getting in touch with the feelings of the electorate.

  • Sinned

    E government was meant to open up debate and allow the public and their views better access to government. Will these aims be achieved? Not if our MP’s choose to work in the dark ages, might as well have sent the message on a piece of stone. The trouble with some people is that they cannot accept that E government makes it easier for a large proportion of the public to get involved, that is what democracy is all about.

  • DebSee

    Mr Burns, if we were zombies, then insulting nearly 500,000 voters would not make your brains (and by association the brains of your party) very attractive.

  • Nonna C

    An MP clearly still in the stone age! Mr Burn’s office’s automated reponse to my email states all contacts will receive a letter by mail – how to waste more taxpayers’ money…

  • Peter Jennings

    It was obvious from the response from my MP after a recent campaign that he had regurgitated a standard reply since many other replies which you published were identical.  Is the whole palace of Wesminster full of zombies or is it just one particular party?  

    ps.  Mine was a Conservative…

  • Tricia

    So that is what the minister really thinks of the electorate then, that we mindlessly subscribe to campaigns and do not have our own opinions?  What a sad & unfair indictment of the British public.

  • Peter

    I’ve been voting for over 45 years in our first-past-the-post democracy.  I’ve voted FOR things, I’ve voted AGAINST things and on occasions I’ve spoilt my paper in protest.  I can honestly say that every one of those votes made not a scrap of difference to the favoured politician in whose constituency I was unfortunate enough to live in at the time.

    Lobbying works, else large corporations would not spend as much as they do on it.  I agree that it’s much easier to click a standard letter than start from scratch but that doesn’t negate the intent behind the action.

  • Pete

    Who the hell is Simon Burns?

  • David Stevenson

    Definition of Zombie in my dictionary:  a person who is or appears to be lifeless, apathetic, or totally lacking in independent judgement.  Since most politicians say and do what they are told to say and do by their respective party leader, doesn’t that make them zombies?

  • Steve Wilson

    Don’t stop at signing this open letter, contact No 10 and ask David Cameron why his ministers have such contempt for the views of ordinary voters.

  • Geoff

    No, really I think we should leave Mr Burns alone, well, annoy him with e-mails by all means, but how many have signed up to 38 degrees since his comment??? Best recruiting agent we have, any organisation a twat like that dislikes sounds good to me!

  • Damien Mcmanus

    Great what you’re doing. However, the ’Twitter’ stream is really putting me off. So repetetive with exactly the same ’messages’. And so middle/upper class.Get a grip. Regards, Damien. PS How about a strategy to connect with the really disadvantaged who don’t actually have a computer, let alone ‘Twitter’?      

  • Occasional visitor

    what i should have told the chump

    Thank you for your kind consideration of people who have values & an opinion & wish to defend the principles of the NHS.Unfortunately I am unable to describe you in the terms required, I mean, obviously, you are a really important & worthy individual, with a valuable input & it would be very wrong of me to say that you should be dragged into the street & have the appropriate treatment administered. MPs are seriously underpaid – as you look unhealthily underweight.

  • John Allan9

    Good idea Damien, why don’t you give us some direction on how this could happen, without huge costs involved. 38 Degrees is funded by voluntary donations,not by politically backed organisations or the tax payer from public funds and by the way i am not upper/middle class.. 

  • Saveoursylva

    24th November 2011
    Dear Mr Burns
    In my opinion your frightened and shameful schoolboy ranting exposes the following:
    The blatant fact that you are of neither sound nor balanced mind. You are, therefore, NOT FIT TO HOLD THE POSITION OF HEALTH MINISTER, nor any other position of power over others or to make decisions that affect the health and wellbeing of the electorate.
    You clearly do not have (and never have had) ANY INTENTION WHATSOEVER OF REPRESENTING THE CITIZENS OF THIS DEMOCRATIC NATION. You have, therefore, assumed your position of power under false pretences and should be tried, along with the rest of your party, not only for slander, but also for lying to the electorate and to your constituents.
    By implying that we citizens do not have a right to voice our opinions and/or to blow the whistle when politicians make dangerous, deceitful and inhumane decisions, YOU HAVE INSULTED THE FUNDAMENTAL PRINCIPLES OF DEMOCRACY ITSELF. As such, you have exposed yourself as a grave threat to the democratic system with no legitimate right whatsoever to assume any position of power in the political arena.
    In consequence, I call for nothing less than the following:
    A PUBLIC APOLOGY to the people of this nation.
    Your IMMEDIATE AND UNEQUIVOCAL RESIGNATION from your post as Health Minister – a position that you have demonstrated you have no right to hold in a Democracy and are not fit to hold on mental health grounds.
    Please be assured that I will continue to exercise my DEMOCRATIC RIGHT TO SPEAK OUT AGAINST MP’s INJUSTICES AND WRONGDOINGS – regardless of how threatened you feel by this and irrespective of whether this frightens and upsets you and gives you nightmares.
    There is a plethora of self-help courses available on the market that have benefited many sufferers of delusion, a condition that can be so painful that it evokes the need to project their own weaknesses and inadequacies and feelings of self-loathing on to others. You might even to be able to get something on the NHS. Or then again, perhaps not.….
    But then YOU can always go Private.
    Yours sincerely
    A Very Caring, Honest and Voting Citizen (NOT a Zombie)

  • Martin Keats

    Ask him about car sharing!!

  • Peter Harris

    I sent this letter to my MP (in reply to his standard response)

    Dear Mr Zahawi

    Further to this,  I hope you will join me in condemning Mr Simon
    Burns for his cheap jibe in parliament about zombies writing to
    their MPs.

    While it is true that the letters sent via organisations such as
    38 degrees are based on template replies,  this is surely no
    different from the cut and paste policy statements that are
    included in your replies?

    One could also argue that the parliamentary whips are forcing MPs
    of all parties to behave like zombies.

    Peter Harris

    (PS This is not a template letter!)

  • Simon Jones

    I like to hear both sides of an argument and then make up my own mind. Do you?

  • SimonJD

    The turn of phrase used by Simon Burns shows exactly what the Tory party thinks about free speech and public opinion. The Tory party thinks that free speech is OK for them and that public opinion should be keep in public houses.I cannot express just how revolting I find this sort of thinking. Burns should offer a public apology in the HoC and resign as Health Minister as he is obviously, because of this mindset, unfit for public office.

  • YNG

    I received a personal response (through the post) from my MP today (not a standard letter) regarding Lansley’s secret “risk register”…
    Does that mean that Simon Burns considers my MP to me a “Zombie-enabler”…???

  • Damien Mcmanus

    In reply to John Allan 9. John, I take your point and regret with hindsight the comment about ‘middle/upper class’ – that was crass to say the least. At the same time I hope you appreciate my point about engaging with those who are, paradoxically,most vulnerable to current Government actions and yet least empowered to articulate their concerns/opposition. You rightly invited comment on what I would suggest and I admit I don’t have a definitive strategy. I do, however, have thoughts on potential initiatives which you and others might wish to consider and expand upon with a view to building a more inclusive campaigning approach. For example:
    (i) Local action via mailshots and follow up ‘doorstep’ discussion about written sign-up to petitions;
    (ii)Local events to provide ‘face to face’ information about how specific policies will impact on individuals, families and communities; preferably involving the local MP;
    ((iii)Creating effective links with local press, radio and regional TV to spread awareness of 38 Degrees and its campaigns;
    (iv)Where appropriate, creating ‘tactical’ alliances with local Trades Union and charitable/voluntary organisations to maximise the resources necessary to inform/engage those who I believe are currently outside of conventional political debate and processes.
    I hope this is useful.38 Degrees is a refreshing renewal of of democracy in this country.I just want to explore how its impact can be broadened. Regards, Damien. 

  • WTF

    Oh yh I’m a zombie. Get real. Grow up

  • YNG

    I received a personal response (through the post) from my MP today (not a standard letter) regarding Lansley’s secret “risk register”…
    Does that mean that Simon Burns considers my MP to be a “Zombie-enabler”…???

    ps. this time without the typo – whoops!

  • KimCT

    Leave a message on David Cameron’s Facebook page about this. I have.

  • Ben Fergsuon-Walker

    Zombie films can be pretty disturbing – but we all know it’s a fictional “entertainment” and can walk away at the end of the day.  However, Simon Burns’ comment is strangely apt in invoking some of the key themes of the zombie myth.  For one thing, we do in fact live in a society which has systematically undermined the critical faculties of much of its population.  Vicky Pollards of the world unite, but we assume at our peril that the limits of your capacity are to launch yourselves ravening to eat the political class alive.  This is one reading of the zombie world – reflected in the alternate view offered by “Shaun of the Dead” in its opening scenes, depicting shoppers and supermarket assistants as the zombie like consumer automatons that plcs and politicians seem happy to cultivate.
    It seems unlikely that even an independently minded and historically outspoken MP such as Simon Burns isnot subject to at least some element of the normative social pressures we are prone to as a species, and the implication of that is that, preaching to the choir in the House of Commons (yes, and let’s pause to consider the name of that place for just a moment), he judged he would get approval from his peers (sic) from this slur on 38 degrees members.  What is deeply disturbing about that is that our poloitical class still feel, in spite of expenses scandals, in spite of the fact of ever unfolding evidence of criminal activity in the media and in spite of a total failure to control the financial class in the worst economic crisis in a century, they regard their electors and funders as an inconvenience to be brushed aside.  This is not merely a mistake in the sense of an abuse of power, but a failure to recognise a potential shift in the democratic management of society that has been much discussed since the earliest days of the internet.  38 degrees, avaaz and many other campaigning, social mobilisation and community fundraising organisations are taking a lead in bringing together the value of the many thinking, responsible citizens of this world, and we have an opportunity through this means to join in a truly co-producing model for society.  Politicians may be challenged, even threatened, in engaging this opportunity to move human civilisation to be the best we can be; but like the zombies in the best films, they will find themselves redundant, inoperative, rendered impotent and indeed, according to the advice, headless, if they do not reject the attitude of colleagues like Simon Burns and adopt a collaborative approach to new movements for expressing public opinion.  Yes, he should resign, but not to make room for more business as usual.  It is time for real change, and that change is already happening.

  • gary

    Mr Burns
    Those who challenge the dictates of democracy are closet fascists

  • Clare

    Dear 38 Degrees

    How dare he. The arrogance is breathtaking.

    Please can you highlight the e-petition which is now on the direct gov uk site calling on the Govt to drop the Health and Social Care Bill:


  • SimonJD

    Simon Burns was only voted for by 46% of the people who turned out to vote and only by 32.5% of the Chelmsford electorate. He hasn’t got a majority of anything, let alone zombies, yet he’s still become a Minister and is making rules for the whole population!

  • LaughingAtMrBurns/Bean

    Imagine the scene,Mr Burns travelling on the train with MORE ZOMBIES….sounds like a good film plot to me..lol…
    “The Adventures of Mr BURNS on a train’….

    Mr Bean wont be happy Mr Burns got there first!!

  • KimCT

    I’ve done the same. I’ve emailed Burns’ constituency office, cc’d to David Cameron, and emailed Burns at the Dept of Health.

  • Phil Rowlands

    In addition to signing the petition I also sent the following by snail mail:

    Respect for the Electorate


    I have just watched a video clip of a recent occasion on
    which you spoke in the House of Commons. 
    In the course of your speech you referred to people who subscribe to the
    38 Degrees organisation as ‘zombies’.  I
    am a subscriber to that organisation.  …..  I have been closely involved in
    general practice in the National Health Service both as a practice manager and
    as a training consultant for a software company, in which capacity I visited
    some 300 practices and PCT’s.  In taking
    a close interest in the changes now proposed for the NHS I approach the
    question with a good deal of first hand knowledge.  When I join in 38 Degrees petitions and
    e-mail campaigns I do so after a good deal of well informed and careful thought
    and not, in any way, as a ‘zombie’. 


    While it comes as no surprise to find a Conservative Party
    minister to be disdainful of the electorate at large, the degree of contempt
    you expressed in your speech is remarkable in being so blatantly insolent.  That you should show yourself to be so
    reactionary in your ignorance of and disregard for the opportunities provided
    by new media is to be expected.  However,
    those media provide the means for voters to make their voices heard amidst the
    clamour of corporate lobbying (much of it from American and other foreign
    companies) with which you are no doubt much more comfortable.  It is unethical of you to attend assiduously
    to the lobbyists while derisively ignoring concerned and active citizens.


    It may be the case that this letter, being no more than a
    communication from a ‘zombie’ voter, may not come to your attention and merely
    be dealt with in a cursory manner by one of your staff.  If, however, you do see it I want you to
    understand clearly that your attitude is unacceptable and that your expression
    of it in the speech in question was disgraceful.  You should be ashamed of yourself.

  • Murray

    If the insults of Mr Burns were leveled at another member of the House of Commons he would be asked to apologise. Gordon Brown was forced to apologise to Mrs Duffy over his “bigot” comments. It is only right and proper that we should seek an apology from Burns for his lack of respect for the voters.
    I can’t think of nobler causes than democracy and good manners.

  • Guest

    As mentioned in the comments section of the letter – Burns is a public servant.  Put there by the public of this country to carry out our wishes to our standards.  He is nothing more than that and if he doesn’t perform to our standards, or doesn’t behave in a respectful manner to his ‘employers’ (i.e. us) then he gets the boot.  Therefore to insult his ‘employers’ by referring to them as ‘zombies’ is a very good way to get fired through the elections at the end of his ‘contracted’ time.  Having almost been sent flying years ago, when he rushed to open a door for Chelmsford’s mayor, I can tell you he is as clueless as he behaves and just follows those in power in a bid to grab a ‘piece of the action’.

    We may be zombies but at least we aren’t clueless sheep!

  • Gabvaughan

    He has forgotten what his job is, and how he got it.  Also, he is very rude and disrespectful. xx

  • Gabvaughan

    good on ya! Get him told! xx

  • Stewart Cockett

    I too have voted all these years with a weary feeling that I can’t make a difference – but then why should one vote make a difference if thousands want another thing. My concern is that recent trends in social media appear to have given individuals more power as they sit at home and type and click. 

    But that won’t make the slightest difference if that’s all they do!  When occupy goes into the next stage it will need to multiply the following by a factor of 10 and after that phase three a factor of 100. Then the issue of having something to vote about will begin to effect the sort of change we want.

     At the moment we are not the 99% – where I live it feels like I’m the 1% 

  • Lawrenceupton

    SORRY ABOUT THE UNDERLININGI received an automated reply from Burns – what one would expect of a zombie. He suggested I might email the dept. So ~ I have done that.There is, as you will know, a note there saying that they will not reply to offensive language. I said I do not want a reply, merely wishing to complain about his offensive language.Should he apologise, I’ll let you have it. Otherwise assume he is too arrogant to apologiseL> ———- Original Message ——————-> Subject: zombie regards> From:    ”Lawrence Upton” > Date:    Wed, November 23, 2011 11:49> To:      simon.burns.mp@parliament.uk>>>>        Dear Mr Burns>>        I am not your constituent so you can safely ignore this letter and continue in your haughty conceit and self-righteousness unabashed.>>        I am writing only because you have insulted me in public by> describing me as _a zombie_ for making use of 38 degrees to campaign> against the privatisation of the NHS; and I wish to respond. You may> think me a zombie for that desire. You may think that it is only> appropriate for us all to do as you and your colleagues demand, and to> otherwise keep the Tory peace. So be it.>>        I thank you for making explicit just how much your party despises> the> people it claims to represent.>>        I do wonder, though, on what basis you are so arrogant and smug when> all you and your colleagues can do, on a good day, is destroy what> international finance has left of my country.>>        I did not vote for you. Nor did I vote for what your government is> doing to the health service. No one voted for it, actually; and that> is because your party lied about its intentions in that regard. You> have no mandate, only the first item on a rather long list.>>        From a zombie to a culpable and mercenary fool>>        Lawrence Upton>>(

  • Not happy of Chelmsford

    Hello Mr Burns,

    As a constituent of yours I have written to you
    on numerous occasions with support and guidance from the 38 Degree
    campaign, I was under the impression that you were there to represent me
    (the constituent).  Hearing you call me and the organisation (38
    Degree) a Zombie is quite frankly sickening and disgraceful.  I
    understand why the politcal process is seen as a farce, mainly due to
    the contempt displayed by the elected goverment which is practiced
    through the ministers and members of parliament.

    If you dont like being contacted with views that differ from your
    own then why did you choose to become a MP?  Was it a career choice for
    you? Decent pension? Or the status it gives you in our community?  I
    would like to think it was to make the community you live in and the
    country a better place to live.  Am I wrong?

    Quite frankly Simon I’m insulted, just a pity in our weak democracy there isnt a mechanism to recall you.

    Would you like to apologise?  My preference is in writing.


  • Gavinrider1

    Mr BurnsYou are doing a great job of adopting the characteristics of your namesake on The Simpsons.How dare you refer to those of us who participate in online opinion forums such as 38 Degrees as “zombies”? MPs are elected to represent the people (even those who did not vote for them) but most of you seem to disconnect your ears after being elected. You need to listen to the collective voice of the people, which is only now finding a means of expressing itself via the internet in a way that you cannot ignore, not condemn it. I have extensively corresponded with ministers over matters that are of deep concern to me and in all but one or two rare cases I have received utterly dismissive responses from some faceless unelected minion or other, with no indication that the addressee has even seen my communication let alone given a response to it. When faced with such impenetrable defences against having our opinions even heard by our elected representatives, let alone listened to and acted upon, collective bodies like 38 degrees are the only option available to us short of the kind of public uprising that is currently going on in Egypt. If this government continues to behave in the despicable manner that you have recently displayed, the day when that kind of reaction takes place in the UK is not very far away, as the recent riots have indicated.We are not zombies, Mr Burns, and you owe us all a public apology delivered from the benches of the Parliament that is supposed to represent us, not dictate to us or berate us.Yours sincerelyDr Gavin Rider

  • Malcolm S

    I sent the following email to temporary MP Burns on 23 November:

    Dear Mr Burns,

    arrogant can you get? For the first time in history, ordinary people
    living in a so-called (and rapidly disappearing) democracy have the
    means, via the internet, to actually make their voices heard when they
    disapprove (or approve) of what MPs are doing when they get into power.
    We are not all scholars. A site like 38 Degrees helps us by enabling us
    to communicate more meaningfully on issues of the day directly to our members
    of Parliament. Especially is this necessary when we have a government
    which no one voted for, comprised of two parties, neither of which
    stated what they intended to do with the NHS.   

    If you want to get into Parliament again you should be grateful for having
    an up-to-date indication of what your constituents think of your record
    thereby enabling you to amend your behavior and manners accordingly.

    ill-behoves one of a group of people who abjectly follow each other
    into a division lobby as instructed by their whips to call anyone else a
    zombie. If I were you, I would show some humility and apologise to 38
    Degrees. With such arrogance is it any wonder that the casually
    dismissed younger generation take to the streets to make their points?

    Yours sincerely,

    Malcolm Sxxxxxxx

  • Gavin Rider

    “ He might even…radical, I know…use it as a resource for getting in touch with the feelings of the electorate.”

    He has displayed no interest in doing that and no inherent quality that would render such a course of action productive.

  • Andrew Morris

    Dear Simon Burns,I am passionately concerned about retaining a free and effective health service and believe that the current NHS reform bill needs full and proper scrutiny.As an active member of 38Degrees.com I take great exception to being dismissed as a zombie in the arrogant and bigoted manner you displayed recently in parliament.Democracy is not something that happens only at election time when persons such as yourself grovel for public support. There are honest people who believe in democracy as an ongoing process and campaigning bodies such as 38Degrees give these honest and interested people a voice.It would behove you to listen to and respect the voice of democracy in these changing times.
    Andrew Morris

  • S.D.

     Letter to my MP about the Health Minister’s comments:
    I expressed my concerns for the future of the NHS via “38 Degrees”.
    Sometimes it is much easier to sign a campaign email than to write a long personal hand-written letter.
    Especially when one is really busy.

    I am extremely upset and angry to be called a ‘zombie’ by the Health Minister.
    Politicians should not dismiss internet-based campaigns.
    They are a valid political tool.

    I could have written the Health Minister a long hand-written letter about my elderly neighbour’s sister in East London, who was neglected by her carers,
    who did not receive her dementia medication for well over a month before staff noticed,
    and whose elderly brother and wife (both in their late 70s) are trying to look after her.
    They are simply exhausted.
    The carer turns up for 15 minutes and then – is gone.
    The poor elderly lady is often left in her own faeces …
    My neighbours wife is trying to keep her clean, washing sheets, clothes etc.
    It’s dreadful, it’s a terrible situation.

    My elderly neighbours in East London did not complain, because they were afraid the service would get even worse.

    Instead of writing a long hand-written letter to Health Minister Simon Burns and voicing my general  concerns for the future of the NHS
    I simply signed a campaign email by 38 Degrees.

    Does that make me into a ‘zombie’?

    Ministers should know better and not dismiss internet based campaigns.
    There are a lot of people out there who care and want to make a difference.

  • S.D.

    Campaign emails are a legitimate way of political expression:

    from an email to my MP
    Downing Street has recently set up e-petitions.
    Many people use this option to express their feelings and opinions.

    If you look at the present petitions on the Downing Street website you will see that a lot of them follow the results of polling.
    It’s difficult to get people signing petitions for issues they don’t feel strongly about (i.e. it’s worth reading the last pages of the e-petition – petitions which did not attract any interest).

    Email and the internet have revolutionised the possibility of political participation – this was very clear in the Arab spring where modern technology and the way young people organise political action had a massive positive impact – towards a democratic push.

    An internet-based campaign (even with broad and brush approaches) which gets a lot of signatures is like the tip of an iceberg.
    It should be taken seriously. (…).

  • Susie

    I have completed a comment to Simon Burns about my reasons for protecting the NHS. I included the definition of a zombie = corpse animated by magic. colloquially a person resembling this; a dull or apathetic person.

    Well, 38 degrees members obviously aren’tt dull or apathetic, ergo we aren’t zombies.

    So who’s frightened, dull or apathetic, and not too good on the english language?

    Not 38 degrees members.

  • Michael Pantlin

    To: Tom Brake MP

    Dear Tom Brake,

    For information re the message I have received copied below Simon Burns MP has done himself no favours by calling zombies me and people like me who supported the 38 Degrees Group initiative to assist us to collectively try to save our beloved NHS from the Tories unmanifestoed privatisation opportunism when other democratic processes were failing us.

    I have replied to him recalling how some years ago now I sat in his Whitehall office when he was Minister of Health with Lady Olga Maitland MP to try to persuade him to deal with the iniquities and excesses of the means-tested health care charging system and found him useless especially when he ran off in the middle of the conversations to be “somewhere else”. We are still waiting for this to be sorted out currently by Paul Burstow MP. 

    As I am a zombie in Mr. Burn’s eyes I was happy to proportionately advise him that he is a pillock in mine.

    With kind regards,

    Michael Pantlin

  • Donclark1



    often find myself supporting Conservative policies but do not do so
    automatically or without thought. 


    I find myself seeing sense in policies from other political directions, too. 


    also sometimes find myself supporting 38 Degrees, though I do not see myself as
    a zombie.  Perhaps you are uncomfortable with the fact of people thinking
    independently then acting in concert.


    did not actively contact M.P.’s etc. before the Credit Crunch and the
    disgraceful behaviour of the banking industry – I do now. 


    will remember your silly ‘zombie’ comment.


    reply is politely requested.





  • Brian


    dare you refer to my decision to oppose your Governments policies by online
    petitions as “zombie” like! It is my choice to get my message to you in the
    quickest way possible and e-mail petitions are NOT a “zombie” like reaction of a
    few, it is a rapid way of expressing my intense dislike of what you and your
    party are doing to the country! I point out I was one of the MAJORITY of people
    who didn’t vote for you or this Government and your party is still in power only
    because of the lack of decisive action from the spineless

    Brian Sharland, Tooting, London

  • Kat

    I have sent the following in correspondence to Mr Burns. I have not received a response yet.
    I have been very disturbed to hear some comments that you made in the House of Commons which suggested that people who raised their very real concerns about changes to the NHS were responding in a zombie like way. As some one who has raised concerns I find this very insulting. I have raised several specific issues about changes in the NHS with my MP and it concerns me that I received an identical response to the one she sent my husband which did nothing to address the specific questions I asked.  Would you describe this as a zombie like response?

    As a representative of a party that has promised more accountability and transparency in government and purports to be actively promoting this, I struggle to understand what your objections to people raising their concerns are. Furthermore the Information Commissioner has stated that publishing the  risk assessments and Risk Register relating to the NHS reorganisation will provide ‘greater transparency and ….aid public understanding ‘  Why as a democratic government are you continuing to refuse to disclose this information?

  • Sandrobe20012003

    Hi,I haven’t listened to the drivel from Simon Burns but what is so new about one of David Cameron’s Government Ministers comparing ordinary people with normal and above intelligence and righteous indignation at the way. we the people who pay their wages, with ‘zombies’?   Idiots and the like, now they’re the people Ministers listen to, when ’talking to themselves’ and answering themselves back.  It’s just proof positive, that the idiots have indeed, taken over the asylum.  The British People are having to develop broad shoulders to cope with the ‘bull-dust’ the Government inflicts on them.  We didn’t create the deficit… but while we might be the ‘fall-guy’, having to take the blame and punishment, we’re CERTAINLY NOT ZOMBIES.Sandra Roberts


    ..’zombies’;  a truly ridiculous comment…..Simon Burns, MPMinister of State for Health House of CommonsLondonSW1A 0AADear Simon Burns,We’re citizens, not ‘zombies’.We have a right to be treated with respect by our MPs and to expect a reply when we get in touch.Every British citizen has a right to be heard in our democracy. Thousands of us write to our MPs, because we care. Because we value democracy. Because the decisions you take affect us. It’s your job to listen.I really do think that you have ‘nailed your colours to the mast’ and – by doing so – have (unwittingly) declared yourself  ’un-democratic’!Epilogue: on the subject of ‘zombies’, I add (below) my own personal response to your comments directed towards members of Avaaz’: -Sincerely,Randolphe PalmerBA Hons / ‘Zombie’, retired!2011/11/23 RANDOLPHE PALMER Hi 38 Degrees Team,Just thought I might let you know that I intend to write a letter to Simon Burns (copied toother members of the cabinet) and perhaps I can e-mail you a copy.Meanwhile, please see below: -zombie |ˈzämbē| – (from Mac dictionary)…..noun1 originally, a snake-deity of or deriving from West Africa and Haiti.2 a soulless corpse said to be revived by witchcraft, esp. in certain African and Caribbean religions.• informal a person who is or appears lifeless, apathetic, or completely unresponsive to their surroundings.3 a tall mixed drink consisting of several kinds of rum, liqueur, and fruit juice.Now which one of these could possibly describe the offensive Mr Burns? Has to be number ’2′ doesn’t it…….!All the very best,R

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  • Mike

    I have written to Simon Burns. Bob Walter my own MP 10 Downing Street, The Health Ministry & David Miliband the leader of the opposition I have not yet had a response from any one I did forward some  copies to 38 degrees that I was able to do,Tthey have asked me to put them on this page Unfortuanatley I do not have the skill to do this but I will try to get some help to do so

  • Mike

    I have now recieved a response from Bob walter MP
      he says
        “   I would like to affirm my position that, whilst only I can formally represent you, I naturally believe that this is a free country and you are perfectly at liberty to write to any Government Minister or Member of Parliament expressing any opinions you wish about any political issue you feel is relevant

  • Flossie

    Dear Mr Burns,  You will be aware that your recent speech, likening 38Degree signatories
    to zombies, has caused some resentment.  I am writing to you, not so
    much to complain, as to suggest that you might reconsider your view. 
    You are elected by voters.  Their level of participation in parliament
    is roughly once every five years, putting an  X on a ballot slip.  Yet
    you are there, in parliament, as their representative and presumably do
    not regard them as something less than zombies.  Someone who
    signs a 38Degrees email has not only found and thought about the issue
    concerned, but has been prepared to sign up publicly and may well be
    engaged in other ways, professionally or privately, in the subject under
    discussion.  At the very least, by signing a petition or email, they
    have demonstated an active interest in the work that is going on in
    parliament on that topic.  Many go further, following their MPs on
    Twitter and Facebook, suggesting arguments and questions, debating and
    commenting on all sorts of aspects of an MPs work.  The recent
    discussion in the House of Commons about MPs tweeting and otherwise
    engaging with their constituents suggests that many of your colleagues
    support and welcome the new networks that allow the public to be more
    involved with the workings of parliament.

    I have been aware for a while of attempts to denigrate and dismiss
    petitions and group emails.  My own MP has stated publicly that he
    ignores them as they are not from individuals. I dispute this.  I would
    claim that they are, indeed, from individuals and from a great many
    individuals, at that.   I am copying this email to the speaker, in the
    hope that he will address this question himself, with MPs of all
    parties.  I have two questions:

    1) how can members of the house justify dismissing emails signed by
    large numbers of identified individual voters when they claim their
    places in the House of Commons on the basis of numbers of the very same
    people simply marking an X on a paper? 

    2) isn’t a mass petition as efficient a way of showing support and
    interest in parliamentary debate as a mass action in a legal case?  Why,
    then, should members of parliament try to dismiss such petitions?

    is one further reason why petitions from massed members of the public
    should be taken extremely seriously by MPs, and I hope you will excuse
    my mentioning it.  Doubt already exists about the undue involvement of
    lobbying groups and interested corporate promoters of particular laws
    and strategies.  Their money buys influence and a whole lot more than
    that.  A petition from 38Degrees, while not lucrative, has the merit
    that every single one of the signatories is openly identified, not
    hiding behind a ‘think-tank’, a corporation or an offshore fund.  They
    should be a gift to any MP who has a genuine interest in serving the
    public through democratic representation.

  • Mike

    Dear Mr Burns

    Whilst I recognize that you are not allowed to represent me I do feel you owe me an apology for accusing me during your speech in the house of ” acting in a zombie like manner ”  simply because I write to my MP who is supposed to  represent my views. The majority of conservative MP’s are following the party line in a slavish manner irrespective of the views of their constituents would you accuse them of acting in a zombie like manner. We are entitled to express our views in a democratic manner without being insulted, would you prefer us to be on the streets as they are in Egypt (which the current British government would seem to support ) or should we do as we are doing now writing to our representatives expressing our views, of course if you ignore us it will be up to the electorate to decide what we should do about it.
    The MP’s and the government have enormous resources to deal with these matters, MP’s are paid high salaries to do their job we are working people we do not have the resources to deal with matters in the same way ( no doubt that’s the way you like it ) if we choose to get together to exercise Our democratic rights then that’s what we will do.Yours Sincerely Michael Burt

  • Mike

    A copy of my letter (below) also went to David Miliband with the following note :

    Dear Mr Miliband
    I am forwarding a copy of a letter I have written to Simon Burns MP I would expect you as the Leader of the opposition to demand he apologises in the house for his disrespectful remarks of the electorate. I have asked the prime minister to take up the matter, we are entitled to exercise our democratic right without being insulted, and if we choose to do so in a collective peaceful manner we are entitled to do so

  • guest

    My criticism is not with the signatories of electronic template letters but the tactics deployed by 38 Degrees itself. I obviously agree entirely with people expressing their views and concerns to their MP.

    However, what I challenge is the way that 38 Degrees have selectively used information about our plans to modernise the NHS which has misled some people into believing things that are not true. People deserve better. They should be presented with all the facts, so that they can make an informed decision and engage in meaningful debate. I feel, having read the email campaign of a few months ago about the NHS, this was not the case

    Yours sincerely
    Simon Burns

  • Colin Williams

    A zombie writes…  apart from going through the 38 Degrees web tool, I also wrote an email directly to Simon Burns, and asked for an apology. This was his reply;
      “Dear Mr Williams, 
    Thank you for your email and I can certainly assure you that I do not think that you are a zombie. My criticism is not with the signatories of electronic template letters but the tactics deployed by 38 Degrees itself. I obviously agree entirely with people expressing their views and concerns to their MP. However, what I challenge is the way that 38 Degrees have selectively used information about our plans to modernise the NHS which has misled some people into believing things that are not true. People deserve better. They should be presented with all the facts, so they can make an informed decision and engage in meaningful debate. I feel, having read the email campaign of a few months ago about the NHS, this was not the case.”
    Looks like he’s got a standard response ready to send to everyone?  
      I note that nowhere in his message does he use the word, “sorry” or “apologise”…

  • Mark

    Nice letter Flossie!


  • http://www.facebook.com/Kalanac John Chapman

    We ARE like zombies!  What starts as an individual is passed on from person to person through the crowds and soon enough you have a horde of individuals united in one common purpose.  He’s spot on, and like with all zombie hordes, he should be worried.

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