Bridget Prentice is my MP. In thirteen years I have written to her three times; once to urge her to vote against the invasion of Iraq ('I'll go with Tony'), once to ask her if she had followed Tony Blair's lead in voluntarily donating her DNA to the national database ('No, but I will if Tony asks me to') and finally in the wake of the Damian Green arrest. I have today received her response to my last letter.
I have unassailable copies both of my text and the fax I e-transmitted; I mention this now for a reason that will be apparent further down. I will be happy for any computer bod to verify that I am not changing now in any way any word, space, punctuation, spelling or the like that the faxed letter contained. Or that Prentice's reply contained. I started;
"Dear Bridget Prentice,
I am stunned and outraged at the arrest and detention of an MP, Mr Damian Green, and by the violation by the Metropolitan Police of the privileges of the House of Commons.
This is a dark day indeed for democracy when the agents of the State can ride roughshod over the freedoms and privileges that we have fought for a millennia to win. I am writing to you as my constituency MP, not in the capacity of any place you hold under government, and I would most urgently beg of you that you consider what this government is about."
Her reply starts (with my comments in brackets)
Thank you for your faxed letter of 28 (sic) November regarding a number of issues related to Damian Green MP, the Shadow Immigration Minister (sic) who was arrested on suspicion of conspiring to commit misconduct in a public office."
Bridget continues on this subject;
"With regards to Damian Green MP, (really Bridget? You wish regards to Mr Green? Or do you mean 'With regard to Damian Green MP'?) I am not in a position nor do I want to make any comments on the proceedings of his alleged collusion in breach of the law."
Now this is just Prescott English. What the heck does it mean? Dear God, you'd think a minister of the Crown could at least string a coherent sentence together, wouldn't you? But it gets worse.
"I say this as an MP and Justice Minister. However, we must also acknowledge the importance of the police being able to conduct an independent investigation impartially and adequately and it is not in the best interest of the Government, Parliament or the country to interfere with police and judicial proceedings." (why is 'country' uncapitalised? It seems Bridget only thinks 'Ministers' and 'Governments' deserve upper case, and the country is not that that important?)
Oh really? So the halting by government of the Serious Fraud Office's investigation into BAe's corrupt deals with Saudi wasn't in the best interests of government? No, I don't suppose it was. The assumption that the interests of government coincide with those of Parliament, or of the country, is breathtaking, though - but this must be what Zanu Labour believe.
My letter to Bridget said
"This government may not value the privileges of Parliament, but I do. To wait until the recess to mount a raid on the Palace, to violate the very heart of our social democracy, is an outrage.
I find it quite incredible that the Home Secretary Jacqui Smith neither knew or was complicit in this vile business. I am almost stunned beyond words, and would ask you most sincerely whether your loyalties lie with your constituents, whose interests are lessened by this overweaning use of State thuggery, or with this government?"
"Jacqui Smith MP, the Secretary of State for Home Affairs, has stated on a number of occasions that she will not prejudice the police's investigation nor did she know until after the arrest of Damian Green MP that he - or any other Member of Parliament - was being investigated by the police or was to be arrested. I think her statement on the matter is accurate and I will not make any further remarks on the issue.
With regards to your thoughts on parliamentary privileges (so parliamentary loses its upper case when privileges are mentioned?) I can understand the anger of Opposition (sic) MPs over Mr Green's arrest and the subsequent police search of his Commons office. However, this mustn't detract from the offences he is suspected of committing and the attempt to play down the significance of the alleged crime by the Shadow Home Secretary is mischievous.
Ah. So the independent report for the Met that found the whole thing was an almighty cock-up was wrong then? And wouldn't any half-way literate person have written 'mustn't detract from the seriousness of the offences he is suspected of committing'? Bridget goes on;
"It is better to show respect for the law and duty of parliamentarians to uphold the law."
Ooh Bridget, Gordon will be sooo cross with you. You must have seen the YouTube clip of him proudly proclaiming to have broken the law when as an MP he received leaked documents? And Harriet has 'fessed up to doing it as well.
"That is my position and I do not see it as a violation at (sic) 'the very heart of our social democracy' as you suggest in your letter. Of, Bridget. I wrote 'of'. 'Of' is literate, 'at' is just silly.
But the part that really, really angers me is this. I wrote
"Here in the borough of Lewisham we pay the salaries of around a thousand Metropolitan police officers - our share of the 32,000 strong force. Yet where are they? Our homes can be burgled, fouled and violated, the possessions of a lifetime stolen and trashed, and we are told it's no longer a concern of the police - we're invited to leave our details on an answerphone. This year nearly thirty teenage boys have been knifed to death in London, yet on the buses and in Lewisham market at the end of the school day are scores and scores of knife-carrying teens terrifying each other and causing public fear."
"I do not believe that life in Lewisham is as grim, unappealing and crime ridden as you portray in your letter. If you feel that 'knife-carrying teens' are terrorising 'the busses' and 'Lewisham market' I suggest then that you raise the matter with the police."
What an inane, ill-considered, offensive and inaccurate parody of my original letter. Do you seriously imagine I would have written 'the busses' or was this your contemptuous reaction to any criticism of your foul and corrupt administration? Despite the fact that my letter was not only written in coherent English - a language you appear to have failed to master - but was correctly spelled and capitalised, your ignorant and semi-literate diatribe in response does nothing but betray spite, pettiness and a wholesome disregard of any of your constituents who refuse to believe the lies, spin, distortions and putrescence of your dying administration.
I will now spend every moment of my waking day working to unseat you from this constituency. Your personal malfeasance in relation to communications to non-constituents as a result of the boundary changes has already been dealt with by the parliamentary authorities. You have demonstrated here you are unfit to understand, let alone to respond to, the issues of state that come before you. Have you considered an alternative career in which literacy is not a major requirement? A sales supervisor at Marks and Spencer, perhaps? Or a senior waitress in Nandos? I'm sure readers could suggest suitable alternative jobs for you.