Go to www.PowerToThePeople.org.uk research your MP, name & shame and contact them for an explanation. With the General Election looming, publishing their actual (and most probably poor) record could have a real impact. Hold 'Em To Account!!
I am writing an open letter to you after researching your performance as my MP via www.PowerToThePeople.org.uk, looking at your Parliamentary speeches, voting record, written questions, early day motions signed and articles written. This letter is to be published (along with sources) on the aforementioned website in addition to the UK, Liverpool and Manchester Indymedia sites. In the interests of getting the full picture your response will also be posted to these independent (but very popular) media sites.
With regard to your record as my representative to parliament I would like to highlight the following and humbly ask you to explain your actions and/or reasoning.
In your speech ‘The UN and Saddam Hussein’ to the House of Commons (25/11/02), you had the following to say, “Saddam…the danger he poses…through the laboratories that are working to produce chemical and biological weapons…we know that not only from our own intelligence but from people who have defected”. Okay so you regurgitated the standard argument for the war, which has long since been discredited and exposed to be little more than propaganda. But interestingly after some discussion regarding the UN and Saddam being cowed by military threat, you had the following to say, “Who provides that military threat against him is more important – more important than even the threat itself”. I read this to mean the importance of the UN. If that is the case why did you vote against a Lib Dem amendment limiting the justification for war with Iraq without further UN sanction on the very same day? (1)
I was encouraged that you abstained from the 26/02/03 vote to sanction war. Can you therefore please explain to me why you voted to sanction the illegal invasion of Iraq without UN backing on 18/03/03? (2) This despite the largest worldwide demonstrations in history and the concerns of probably the majority of your constituents. And please do not try to justify it in the terms of the ‘War on Terror’, as you did in your article ‘Iraq, Prisoners, Torture – Blair, Bush and Vietnam’ (22/05/04). It really doesn’t stand up to any meaningful scrutiny.
In your November 2002 speech you also had the following to say, “The consequences, however, will reveal whether our global coalition acts only out of united self interest, or works genuinely towards a greater humanitarian goal”. Well I think Abu Ghraib prison, thousands of civilian deaths, massive unemployment, poor water and electricity supplies, the use of cluster bombs and depleted uranium shells and so on. Whilst the country has been illegally privatised and US contractors are engaged in financial irregularities and fraud on a massive scale have revealed it quite well. Isn’t it interesting that in the days that followed the fall of Bagdad, whilst all the public buildings, museums and even hospitals were being looted, the Oil Ministry was under maximum security. It really does speak volumes. So Mr Woodward, now you have had the goals of Bush and Blair laid out plain to see. What is your view now, which of the scenarios as set out in your statement has the consequences revealed? (3)
Looking at your Parliamentary voting record it is good to see you voted in favour of banning fox hunting and a fully elected House of Lords, both of which, I would say, are representative of your constituency’s wishes. However, looking at the rest of your voting record it is regrettable that you supported Tuition Fees and Foundation Hospitals, both of which are a blatant attempt to introduce the market and therefore inequality to such vital public services as Health and Education. In all you have followed the New Labour Whip 96.6% of the time. This is not very encouraging, representative wise, for a traditional Labour town which, on the whole, does not hold Blair in high esteem.
Looking at your Parliamentary written questions it is encouraging to see you ask so many questions concerning services in St Helens and it is obvious to see you show a real interest in your constituency. However, looking at your questions with regard to Iraq, timid and apologist are words that spring to mind. There are no questions which are searching or attempt to hold anybody accountable for the decisions made. May I suggest you ask some questions which will expose the real reasons for invading Iraq, how about ‘Under whose authority was Iraq’s state owned industry and infrastructure privatised?’ Would you consider writing a question to the relevant government department asking a question such as this, in order to attempt to hold the government accountable for it’s actions in Iraq? (4)
With regard to the early day motions you have signed I am pleased to see some action, which is representative of and aims to benefit your constituency. The signing of ‘EDM 131 – Child Poverty’, ‘EDM 200 – Occupational Pensions’ and ‘EDM 2 – Make Poverty History in 2005’ are good examples of this. Your work to help Ravenhead staff who lost their occupational pensions on the whole is encouraging and the type of behaviour I would expect from my Labour MP. However, again with regard to Iraq, why did you not sign ‘EDM 502 – Inquiry into War with Iraq.’ Do you not want to know the facts behind the debacle of the war? I would like you to let me know why you didn’t sign this EDM or any others with regard to Iraq? (5)
To conclude, looking at the facts, i.e. your voting record, parliamentary questions, articles written, speeches made and EDMs signed. Unfortunately, I would have to say, you have not represented St Helens to the extent I and many other constituents would expect. Although it is undeniable you have done some good work for the constituency, your unquestioning support for Blair and the Iraq War, (amongst other issues mentioned), does not stand you in good stead for the upcoming General Election. However, on the plus side, I was encouraged to learn that your maiden speech concerned the importance of fox hunting and as you recently voted in favour of a ban. It would seem you can change your position on issues and perhaps respond to your electorate’s wishes. I certainly hope so and you would certainly earn my respect and vote if you were to do so. Perhaps you could display this pragmatism in your treatment of ID cards, an undoubted infringement of our civil liberties and a massive waste of tax payer’s money, which will not address any of the spun reasons for their introduction. But it is New Labour policy and as such, given your present record, I would unfortunately expect you to follow the Party Whip, despite your electorate’s concerns. This is indeed disappointing, please prove me wrong.
I apologise for this over long letter but as it is to be published I thought it should address the facts and some particulars of your representation of St Helens South, which I and I’m sure many other constituents find to be of importance. I also apologise for my frankness and I hope you do not take offence at any of the letter’s content or tone, it is not intended. For your convenience I have numbered the questions 1 – 5 that I humbly request you answer. If some of your reasoning is just due to party political reasons please do say so.
I understand answering these questions truthfully may be difficult for an aspiring MP within the party of power. But in my opinion, you are answerable to your constituents and in turn the government is answerable to you. If you could answer my questions and take on board some of my comments it would be greatly appreciated. I appreciate you may feel I have given you a hard time but in the interests of democracy I am doing my bit to attempt to hold you to account as my MP and I encourage yourself to do the same to government. I hope by posting this letter and your response to independent media sites it will encourage others to do the same. To research their MP’s actual record, publish it in the public domain, engage with their MPs in an attempt for transparency and accountability and to help re-invigorate the democratic process. Which, as I’m sure you’re aware, is fading as more and more as people feel totally disenfranchised from it. Partly due to a feeling of powerlessness, that politicians don’t listen and that they’re ‘all the same’ and ‘in it for themselves’. Some of the issues raised, the Iraq War in particular, have compounded this.
Mr C Baines