Sunday, 29 September 2013

The end of an era

This is a rather short posting but one I think warrants writing.

Today is the end of an era for me as I have just submitted my last ever Your Thurrock column.  I explained my reasons for leaving, thanked who I needed to thank and then left with a conversational bombshell relating my views on the subject I have avoided talking about for months - mass immigration.  It's such an emotive subject that I didn't want to be inundated with racist propaganda filled comments on it and I made the decision that I would submit my piece and not look back this time.  In fact, I won't be looking at Your Thurrock again.  Promises made to me were broken and I started feeling as though I was just being used to fill space.  The column became a chore that was not benefiting me or moving me forward towards my employment goals so it really was time to leave.

I may not get as many readers here but I still get the enjoyment of writing the posts that appear here so this blog will remain active.

It's sad to think of the high hopes I had for my involvement with Your Thurrock coming to naught but I'm not looking back because I'm looking to build a future.

If it doesn't get published on Your Thurrock, I'll post my last column here instead.

Saturday, 28 September 2013

Addendum to my last posting

The following text is from the document that became known as the Nolan Principles.  It is reproduced from and covers the basics of the Nolan Principles.

The Seven Principles of Public Life

Holders of public office should take decisions solely in terms of the public interest. They should not do so in order to gain financial or other material benefits for themselves, their family, or their friends.

Holders of public office should not place themselves under any financial or other obligation to outside individuals or organisations that might influence them in the performance of their official duties.

In carrying out public business, including making public appointments, awarding contracts, or recommending individuals for rewards and benefits, holders of public office should make choices on merit.

Holders of public office are accountable for their decisions and actions to the public and must submit themselves to whatever scrutiny is appropriate to their office.

Holders of public office should be as open as possible about all the decisions and actions that they take. They should give reasons for their decisions and restrict information only when the wider public interest clearly demands.

Holders of public office have a duty to declare any private interests relating to their public duties and to take steps to resolve any conflicts arising in a way that protects the public interest.

Holders of public office should promote and support these principles by leadership and example.

These principles apply to all aspects of public life. The Committee has set them out here for the benefit of all who serve the public in any way.

Now, with reference to my previous posting - how many of these principles has Jackie Doyle-Price broken?

In fact, why not measure all the current Government against these principles and see how many actually measure up?

I'll give you a head start - Iain Duncan Smith, David Cameron, George Osborne and Jackie Doyle-Price all fail on at least three principles.

Finally, Jackie Doyle-Price shows her true colours!

As my regular readers will know, I have written a number of letters to my local MP, Jackie Doyle-Price and I have always stated that I would publish her replies either as a scanned copy of her letter or as a cut-and-paste from any e-mails she sent.

Now, any real representative of the people would respond to each point, indeed each letter or e-mail, sent to them.  I have now received her response and below is that response together with the leaflet she sent me.

What really gets me is the gall of the woman.  How dare she send me, an articulate and fully literate man whom she sent a copy of Hansard notes (which are a full record of every word uttered in Parliament) of the mental health debate I asked her to attend, an Easy Read version of the leaflet - a version I may add meant for people with learning difficulties and extreme problems with literacy.

This shows Jackie Doyle-Price in her true colours, someone who thinks that someone with mental health issues cannot understand a well-written 'normal' leaflet.  Or it could be that she was trying to make a point about my intellectual ability and comprehension skills and that is just as bad.

It also shows that she is extremely childish, dismissive of her constituents views, unfit to represent anyone in Parliament and, in my honest opinion, a complete and utter bitch.

I replied almost immediately with the following e-mail, which is reproduced here in full.

Dear Ms Doyle-Price,
With regards to your communication dated 23rd September 2013, you said in your letter that “I have articulated my position and have communicated that to you by letter” and that is an erroneous statement.

Taking each e-mail in turn, I shall show you where you error lies.

Mental Heath Debate – I stated that you had not sent me a reason for not attending the debate in Parliament, merely sent me a copy of the Hansard coverage.  I asked you to state why you did not attend the debate which you haven’t. 

You may have mistaken this for the MPCA that I arranged for you to attend but I was referring to the debate in the House of Commons last year or early this year.  I hope you will now go back in your correspondence regarding this matter and provide the answers I asked for.

MPCA – I stated that you did not actually refer to the MPCA and instead concentrated on the WCA which was not mentioned in my e-mail.  That is a truthful assertion on my behalf.

I asked if you worked closely with Stephen Metcalfe as your letters were almost, but not completely, the same.  You did not answer that question or give more than an extremely short and dismissive answer to why you did not attend.

Syria and Human Rights Abuses in the UK – I stated my view that showing such a moral stance on Syria was wrong when this Government was heaping human rights abuses on some of its most vulnerable citizens.  That was my opinion and it is my right to share it with you.

I asked two questions based on my view of your statement in the press neither of which you have answered.

High-Cost Lenders – I stated that you were against high-cost lenders, a positive statement of which we are in total agreement.

I asked whether you would petition Mr Cameron on cutting party links with as that company supplies funds to the your party.  I would have thought that this is a question that you would be glad I asked given your stance on that type of money lender.

JFK – I related to you an interesting historical fact about John F Kennedy not accepting the wages paid to him during his term in office as the President of the United States and instead gave it to charity.

I made a suggestion that you could ask Mr Cameron and his senior colleagues to do the same along with Mr Miliband and his senior Shadow Cabinet colleagues, you did not answer that or give your comments on that suggestion.

Bedroom Tax – I asked for your personal views on the Bedroom Tax and you gave me no answers.

I admit that I used the term ‘Bedroom Tax’ which is one not liked by the Conservatives but that is the one most often used so I feel justified in using it.

MPCA Huffington Post article – I forwarded the article I saw about the MPs who did attend the MPCA learning exercise and how much they gained from the experience.

I asked how you could consider yourself a representative of your Thurrock constituency if you were unwilling to represent views that differ from your own.  This is a valid question to which you gave no answer.

Gagging Bill – I asked you to oppose the Gagging Bill and gave reasons.  You did not respond with any reasons why you would/would not oppose the Bill.

You stated that you observed “that the tone and volume of your correspondence is becoming increasingly hostile and I am under no obligation to indulge it”. 

I cannot see anything about the tone that could have offended you except that we have differing views.  I asked pertinent questions and put my view on the subjects across.  I can only assume that it is the fact that we disagree that offended you.

As for the volume of correspondence, I explained that my mental health condition is such that I cannot help myself from working in that way.  To further explain, however, I get extremely agitated if I cover more than one issue in a single e-mail or letter; this is a manifestation of my heightened anxiety and severe depression.  I cannot help it and I am, in fact, having to get someone to write this e-mail for me based on my individual handwritten notes.

I also thought it was a matter of courtesy to write individual e-mails so that you may use the subject line headings as a heading for your replies to make it easier to keep track of what you had or had not answered.  Perhaps I should have made that clearer.

The matter of the volume of correspondence is easily answered by the fact that there were a lot of issues that cropped up during that period that I wished to have answered.  Your colleague Stephen Metcalfe receives more letters from a friend of mine than you received from me and he has not taken your attitude, answering each and every letter whether the answer is something my friend wanted to hear or not.  My friend may space his letters out a little more but the volume is considerably more.

As for you being under no obligation to ‘indulge it’, You are actually paid to listen to the views of your constituents and answer their questions so I cannot see what you mean by ‘indulge it’ when all I have done is send you e-mails, albeit a lot, stating my views and asking for answers to some questions – the very definition of your job.

You stated that “if you wish to have your correspondence treated with respect you should afford the same to others”; you have a very good point there although I cannot see how it applies in any of these cases as I have been nothing but respectful in my letters to you.  I put across my views, which obviously annoy and offend you, but I have done nothing to warrant such a response from you.

You state that I will “receive no substantive reply from me to any further correspondence of this nature”.  From what I can see, I have received no substantive reply on any of my respectfully worded letters anyway but would like to know what you mean by “correspondence of this nature”.  Do you mean any letters of any interest or importance to me? 

I humbly ask for clarification on the phrase “correspondence of this nature” as, although I am by no means stupid, I am at a loss to know what you are getting at with the phrase.

Regarding the letter on your role as an MP, I’d like to thank you for sending me the enclosed leaflet.  I have not had a chance to read it yet as I wished to get the notes written down for my carer to type up into a single e-mail but I’m sure it will be most instructive and that is all I have wanted from all of the e-mails I sent to you – to find out the answers to some questions, put forward my views and suggestions and get an idea of your views on these matters from your own ‘pen’ rather than from a biased media outlet who may spin a story in such a way that it may be put across in the opposite way to the way you meant it.

I am very disappointed that you feel that I have been hostile when I have not been and that you have chosen to say that you have answered my questions when you clearly have not.  All I wanted was to have a deeper understanding of your views and why you hold them.  Clearly you are unwilling to do so.

I hope this e-mail finds you well and that you may change your mind regarding your view of my e-mails enough to reply.

I await any reply you wish to make with eager anticipation.


Myles Cook

I have also decided to take the matter up with Conservative Party Chairman, Grant Shapps.  The letter I sent him is reproduced in full below.

Dear Mr Shapps,

I am writing to you in your capacity as Conservative Party Chairman about a matter of grave importance regarding your colleague and my local MP, Ms Jackie Doyle-Price (Thurrock constituency).

Over the course of the period between 9th and 15th September this year I sent Ms Doyle-Price a number of e-mails regarding a number of issues – some had my views on the subject of the e-mail and one or two questions, some had a suggestion or asked for her views on the subject of the e-mail without really posing a full-on question.  I realise that the number of e-mails was, in some people’s eyes, excessive but I prefer to address a single issue in a single e-mail or letter as I become agitated and anxious if I cover more than one issue per piece of correspondence; this is due to my mental health condition but, despite this, I am still a registered and active voter.

I received no answers to my questions, no response to my request for her views and no reasons for her passing on or not passing on my suggestions.  What I did receive was a very hostile letter saying that she had “articulated my position and have communicated that to you by letter” which is untrue.  Ms Doyle-Price did respond to a previous  e-mail prior to this period but the e-mails during this period that were on the same subject were my reply to her previous response and I forwarded her an interesting Huffington Post article I saw that I thought might have interested her on the subject.  The e-mails I sent during this period covered other issues that Ms Doyle-Price refused to give a response to.

Ms Doyle-Price stated that she was “not prepared to get into circular correspondence on these matters.  I have no need of a pen friend.”  Seeing as the correspondence I sent all advanced the conversation I was trying to have with her or were on subjects to which she had given no response I cannot see how they could be considered a “circular correspondence”.

Ms Doyle-Price stated that the tone of my e-mails was “becoming unpleasantly hostile” which is complete nonsense as they may be strongly worded, assertive and do not share her views but they are not hostile.  She also complained about the volume of correspondence, a subject that I explained in a postscript on my third e-mail to her and have repeated the explanation above in paragraph two of this e-mail to your good self.

Ms Doyle-Price stated that she was “under no obligation to indulge” my correspondence.  As she is my MP I find this attitude disgusting as she is there to listen to the views of her constituents and pass on suggestions to the Government on their behalf and answer questions that cannot be answered by anyone but her, i.e. give her views.  I directly asked for her personal views on a number of subjects as I wished to hear her thoughts on those subjects without the bias that can crop up in the media.  I would have thought she would have jumped at the chance to air her views without any biased slant rather than jumping down my throat.

She made the assertion that my correspondence had not treated her with respect and that therefore she was under no obligation to treat mine with any.  The only comment I made that could have been considered disrespectful was one that referred to her status as being a back bench MP, which I believe is her status within Parliament.  My views and comments may have been strongly worded, assertive and not in line with her views but they were never disrespectful.

She stated that I would receive “no substantive reply from me to any further correspondence of this nature”.  Exactly what nature she is referring to is a matter for debate but, as I have received “no substantive reply* on any of the issues I wrote to her about, I believe that Ms Doyle-Price is failing in her duty to me as her constituent and her duty to her entire Thurrock constituency.

The most disgusting part of Ms Doyle-Price’s response is that, in reply to my respectful request for her to explain her role as an MP (as she said I had the wrong impression of her role), she included a copy of a leaflet “You and your MP” to explain.  The disgusting part is not that she sent the leaflet but that she sent me an Easy Read version of it, a version that is meant for people with learning impairments.  As you can tell from this e-mail, I do not suffer with any learning impairments and I find sending an Easy Read leaflet to someone to whom she sent pages of Hansard notes on the mental health debate held in Parliament last year extremely offensive. 

I may suffer with mental health issues but I am not stupid and Ms Doyle-Price’s actions show her to be discriminatory, completely oblivious to the Equality Act and rather rude.

The whole tone of her letter, dated 23rd September 2013, was extremely hostile, extremely rude, erroneous in almost every comment she made and extremely dismissive of me as a person and as her constituent.

She may not agree with the content of my letters but she had no right to treat me in this way.  I humbly request, therefore, that, in your role as Conservative Party Chairman, you discipline Ms Doyle-Price for her actions and order her to make a public apology to me in the Press.  I do not mind if it is only in the local Thurrock newspapers but I wish the apology to be public and not made in such a way that it reflects negatively on me as I have done nothing wrong except try to engage with my representative in Parliament.

I have discussed the issue of being sent an Easy Read leaflet with the Chairman of the Basildon & South Essex Disability Equality Forum, an independent organisation which is a member of Disability Action Alliance and supported by Stephen Metcalfe MP (South Basildon & East Thurrock constituency), and the issue will be raised at the next full meeting in November.

I will also be passing Ms Doyle-Price’s correspondence to Rethink Mental Illness for their comments on her actions (although I have not done so yet) which show that she is stigmatising a mental health service user as someone of low intellectual ability and dismissive of the views of someone with mental health issues.

I may also pass on the details of my correspondence with Ms Doyle-Price to my local councillors all of whom are Labour Party members and one of which is the Leader of Thurrock Council.

As I do not wish this issue to become a major incident, I respectfully ask that you discipline Ms Doyle-Price for her actions (sending me details of how and when she was disciplined or, perhaps, made public in the media) and order her to make a public apology to me in the Press that is not made in such a way that it reflects negatively on me.

I hope that this matter can be satisfactorily resolved in a timely manner so that I may assure the people I have already informed or will inform of Ms Doyle-Price’s actions that the matter can be dropped.

If you wish to read the e-mails I sent to Ms Doyle-Price, feel free to contact me on this e-mail address and I shall forward them on to you.  I can also supply a scanned copy of the offending reply from Ms Doyle-Price although I’m sure her assistant could supply you with a copy.

Looking forward to your response on this matter with anticipation.


Myles Cook

I don't actually expect a response from Grant Shapps and, even if I do, it will probably be a whitewash of the subject that comes to nothing because when it comes to discrimination, rudeness, dismissiveness of the wishes and views of the electorate, corruption, selfishness and total childishness, the Tories really are "all in this together".