How Labour MPs really view their constituents
Mr Clelland, 64, offered this advice in response to a letter from Gary Scott, 27, an IT salesman with concerns over civil liberties.
Mr Scott had written to his MP once before, while living in a different part of the city, a constituency represented by a Liberal Democrat MP. “He was kind enough to write a considerate reply and I hope you will do the same,” Mr Scott wrote. He then detailed his concerns. The Government was authoritarian and out of touch. He could no longer ignore what he regarded as a “blatant power grab”.
Mr Clelland is regarded as a man of the Centre Left who votes broadly with the Labour mainstream: indeed, he was once a parliamentary whip. He voted in favour of identity cards and 42-day detention for terror suspects. He also voted for the hunting ban. He did stand up for civil liberties when it came to the smoking ban, perhaps because he is a pipe smoker.
Mr Scott was very disappointed with what he saw. “You vote with your party on pretty much every single issue,” he wrote. “It’s not your constituents you represent, it’s your party.”
In short, he held the Government and Mr Clelland himself “responsible for destroying civil liberties that have been hard won from tyrannical monarchs over centuries”.
Concluding what he described as “a bit of ranting and raving from one of your constituents”, he said that if Mr Clelland continued “toeing the party line”, he could “kiss my vote goodbye”.
The warning did not have the desired effect. Mr Clelland replied accusing Mr Scott of arrogance for thinking that “you . . . represent the views of the people of our community”. This, Mr Clelland wrote, was his job.... “I’m not here to be dictated to like that,”...“I do not want your vote so you can stick it wherever best pleases you.”