Friday, January 29, 2016

Impact of Lobbying Groups

Sometimes I start to write about what's niggling at back of my mind, knowing full well that it's not a popular viewpoint with my constituents. But sometimes it has to be done. This is one of those sometimes.
Today my inbox has been inundated with emails inspired by a lobbying group called 38 Degrees. Two campaigns and over 200 emails. Now let us set aside the fact that my experience of this lobbying group is that it operates in a deceitful and underhand way. And let us set aside my view that the involvement of this group actually damages the causes to which it's name is attached. Let's just consider the two issues involved, and the impact this sort of campaigning has.

The first mass of emails asks me to support a strong independent BBC. No bothering to ask me what my view is. Just assuming that a strong independent BBC is something that wouldn't have crossed my mind. Most of these emails are polite. But some are not. Several references to my "Tory mates at Sky etc.". Reality is that I am an enthusiastic member of the BBC APPG and it would be difficult to find a greater supporter of a strong independent BBC than I am. Yet the emails keep pouring in.

The second campaign has been about pressing me to attend a debate at Westminster tomorrow to discuss mis-shape vegetables and out of date fruit - re-appearance of the bent cucumber debate. Now, I totally agree with the aims of this bill before the House of Commons. But it's a Private Members Bill which may not even be reached and with no chance of reaching the statute book unless the Govt decides to run with it as a Govt Bill. So ok. But let's just consider the consequences if I were to respond by going to London. Firstly, I would have to cancel my entire day in Montgomeryshire to spend 8/9 hrs on the road or train. 

At 10.00am tomorrow morning, I am at the Royal Shrewsbury Hospital meeting the NHS Hospitals Trust to discuss the future of NHS care for Montgomeryshire constituents, plus patient concerns that have been raised with me. I then have to move sharpish to reach Llanidloes High School by 12.15 for a session with the very active and opinionated Sixth Form. I think engaging with young people to be important work. Then it's a TV interview for Byd ar Bedwar about access to broadband in Montgomeryshire. Hoping to make it to my Welshpool office to sign off some letters and hopefully make it to a Sports Awards Ceremony at Theatre Hafren. Every single one of the 100 plus emails asked (mostly but not all politely) to cancel all of my programme to travel to London. 

Like all MPs, I like to receive letters/emails from constituents sharing their concerns, asking me to help where I can. Some are long and detailed, outlining often serious problems. Only point I make is than when I have 200 emails a day, inspired by a lobbying group, I either have to give up doing everything else or employ someone to do it - which rather defeats the objective.
No idea how this photo of Dan Biggar found it's way into this blog pits, but he's such a fantastic No 10 that I decided to leave it. Even if nothing whatsoever to do with the post.

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