Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Three Lewisham Labour MPs Pass the Electoral Buck

Bridget Prentice MP (Lewisham East) is a fairly small fish in the big political pond. Somehow she has managed to attain the dizzying heights of ministerial office in the Justice Department.

She is currently under investigation by the House of Commons authorities for alleged misuse of the Communications Allowance. Prentice's tax-payer funded Annual Report was being delivered to residents of two wards outside her constituency. These two wards will form part of the new Lewisham East constituency at the next election. The leaflet stated that 'after the next election Bridget Prentice will be your MP'. The small matter of an intervening general election is obviously no impediment to Mrs Prentice.

Prentice has now written to one of the constituents (see letter - click on it to enlarge) that she does currently represent, urging her to write to a neighbouring MP with her problem! The resident lives in Lewisham Central ward, which is currently in Prentice's Lewisham East seat (maj 8,758). After the next election, it will move into Lewisham Deptford, currently represented by veteran leftie Joan Ruddock (maj 13,0120). Notice a pattern here?

The bottom line is that the Lewisham MPs are contriving to use the boundary changes to manipulate public money and seek influence with their 'potential' electors. And its not just Lewisham's ladies. Jim Dowd, the Labour MP for Lewisham West (maj 7,7779), has also reportedly been caught distributing his paid-for-by-the-public annual report to residents in Penge - which isn't in Lewisham West (yet), but will be after the next election.

The key paragraph in Bridget Prentice's letter is this...
Joan Ruddock will be your new MP from the next general election and she will take on casework and any other queries from residents of xxxxxxxx and the rest of the Lewisham Central Ward. We've been doing this since January 2008 and have agreed to continue taking caseowrk from our new wards until the next General Election.
I have been unable to identify any actual rule that has been broken, but it surely goes against everything that Parliament stands for to essentially tell your constituents you won't deal with their cases. I rang the Speaker's Office who professed great surprise that this was happening. I was told "They shouldn't be doing this." I rang six other MPs I know in three different parties and they all expressed astonishment.

Two of the three seats could be classed as semi-marginal, so it's clear what is going on here. They are using parliamentary correspondence and constituency casework to become known in their new areas and they have formed a cosy little cartel to organise it. If it is happening in Lewisham, maybe it is happening elsewhere - all in the name of promoting incumbency.

And it stinks.

30 comments:

Anonymous said...

Lets be realistic though. This is happening in tory seats as well.

Iain Dale said...

Oh, is it? Show us your evidence? Because if it is, I would condemn it too. It is thoroughly wrong.

Andrew Lee said...

Prentice is running scared. First she loses seats to everyone at the Borough elections in 2006, then Labour are just 1,000 votes ahead of the Conservatives in the mayoral tally last year.

The last time Labour got squeezed in exactly this fashion in Lewisham East in 1983 veteran Labour man Roland Moyle lost to Conservative Colin Moynihan.

Disappointed liberals then as now helped to kick the door in only to see the Conservatives dive through first.

The Lib Dems trailed in a very poor third here in this years elections... watch this space

Anonymous said...

Oh boo hoo. Nasty Labour Party wants to win election.

Not fair. not fair.

Anonymous said...

More than anything else it shows that (Labour) MPs have utter contempt for their constituents and the electorate. Casework is only worthwhile doing if it means an added vote at the next election. Hopefully the good people of Lewisham will show their own contempt for these risible politicans.

Anonymous said...

Is it not a bit rubbish that Prentice only does 8 hours of surgery a month - or is that normal?

Niccolo Machiavelli said...

My understanding of the convention is that an MP may take on the case of a constituent of another MP, if the constituent requests it and if their MP agrees.

I do not think MPs are particularly meant to trade parts of their constituency for electoral benefit, nor claim that they "will" be the MP for the constituency after the next general election.

Niccolo Machiavelli said...

P.S. spot Draper's trolls.

Anonymous said...

The best bit is 'after the election I will be your MP'. Really? Does this show that the labour party doesn't actually believe in elections? After all, they are horribly inconvenient...

It makes me throw up.

norman said...

anon 4.57
No need to hide yourself as Labour Party
rebuttal automaton!

Anonymous said...

Lewisham East and West look pretty vulnerable on some recent (or pre-Labour conference) polls.

Hubris zone said...

So they will be their MPs after the election will they? Typical Labour arrogance, probably delivered with Ruddock's perma-smile.

Anonymous said...

This is awful. Constituency representation is a cornerstone of our democracy.

Requesting not to represent members of your constituency who will not be able to vote for you in the next election is beyond the pale.

I hope the people of Lewisham are unequivocal in their condemnation.

Swatch NJ said...

Two points.

1. Bridget Prentice may be 'a fairly small fish in the big political pond' but this still makes her substantially larger fry than, for instance, anyone posting on this blog. Let's keep it in perspective.

2. MPs not acting for the constituents of another member is a convention not an absolute rule. In a previous job I regularly liaised with other west London MPs who, very discreetly, worked with Ealing Southall constituents who were unable to get a response out of the appalling Piara Khabra.

product of the education system said...

"We luv Gordon
Labr dun nuffin rong
Torees are bad at evryfing
Gordan Brawn wil win the next erection
Iarn Dale is a madman eveywon say so.
Tory r toffs lik Dave Camera an David Davids. An dont fink that vince carbulb is enee beter coz he aint not"


Ps fanks fur the job Mr Driper. no won els wood employ me, an I have a key stage 6 Diplowma in comunecashions. i hop i dunt bollox it up an let u down.

product of the education system said...

how do u dump sommethng tht you did not meen to print?

africanmum said...

Despite the glee people feel at the demise of free market capitalism, Nu Lab is still beneath contempt and will always be hated for the way they infiltrate family life and free thought. Their hubris now knows no bounds - I will be your MP after the next election is something you say if the election were in Saddam's Iraq with only 1 candidate on the ballot paper. Still praying Charles Atlas Brown calls an early election so the political map can be redrawn early.

Lady Finchley said...

Sorry Swatch NJ but you are wrong and what those MPs did was wrong. What Prentice is doing is wrong - first of all she is being presumptious - how the hell does she know that any of them will be elected? How dare she fob off the constituents that voted her in - it is an outrage and somebody at the highest level ought to be doing something about this.

Anonymong said...

As a Lewisham resident, this doesn't exactly surprise me - Lewisham has long been stitched up by Labour - until the recent council elections.

I think they may get a nasty surprise come the election though - especially if the local rag were to get hold of this story... perhaps Mr Cleverly could help?

unfortunate lewisham resident said...

i live in lewisham, it's a dump.

Conand said...

'Joan Ruddock will be your new MP from the next general election'

If this is the case why bother soliciting votes? Surely the hapless disenfranchised voters of these wards will be informed of their new representative at the appropriate time.
I find it fascinating that you could get a job at the (in)Justice Department despite not having a basic grasp of this country's constitutional arrangements.
Those pesky elections that HM The Queen is required bring about are assumed to be held on a democratic basis.
The government quite rightly lectures countries all over the world about the benefits of democracy. It would be nice if... (you know what I'm going to say)

Anonymous said...

For once you've blogged about something worthwhile - this does stink.

Windsor Tripehound said...

Africanmum @8:08pm said “Despite the glee people feel at the demise of free market capitalism…”

Excuse me a moment whilst I mount my hobbyhorse…

We are not seeing the demise of free market capitalism, we are seeing (I hope) the demise of unregulated bankers and city traders who are basically parasites.

Capitalism is about people taking risks with their capital. If they do well they make profits; if they fail they lose their investment. Wosniak and Jobs and Gates did exceedingly well – good luck to them. I (operating on a somewhat less exalted scale) didn’t do so well and was lucky to end up losing only £15K and not my house, which was at stake at the time. I’ve not complaints; I took my chances and the market settled my fate.

What we’ve seen over the last 10 or more years is bankers and city traders taking risks with other peoples’ capital and then walking away scot-free (how appropriate?) when they screw up. If they were subject to the same risks as genuine entrepreneurs, i.e. they stand to lose all they’ve got if they fail, and go to gaol if they break the law, then that would be fine by me. Otherwise they need to be tightly regulated so that they are not simply a burden on those who are making a real contribution to the national economy.

End of rant, and I’ll now dismount.

Anonymous said...

Happening in Ipswich. Chris Mole MP (Labour) has been using the Communications Allowance to write to people who will be within constituency at next election.

Morally corrupt.

Anonymous said...

Well I'm very jealous of all these people who actually hear from their MP. We're being switched from Tessa Jowell to Harriet Harman next time and I haven't heard fuck all from either of them in years.

...and I'm a member of their sodding party

Anonymous said...

It does stink and the GOP have also been found to be misusing tax payers money for electoral purposes.

Report finds that White House used ‘taxpayer-funded trips to help elect Republican candidates.’

Anonymous said...

Here's an example of the Conservatives passing Saffron Walden MP Alan Haselhurst off as the MP for North Chelmsford:
http://www.chelmsfordconservatives.org/content/members.html

Iain Dale said...

Er, that would be because he does...

Next...

Anonymous said...

North Chelmsford is not within the constituency that Haselhurst presently represents. Some northern bits of Chelmsford will be part of Saffron Walden constituency at the next General Election, but right now they are not.

Anonymous said...

... so the Conservatives are lying.