I’ve written to my MP.
Luckily for me, I have a pretty good one. I’ve never actually voted for Ken Clarke in the 17 or so years that I’ve lived in his constituency (and thus, my vote has been next to useless in our wonderful first past the post system), but he’s always been up to the mark as a constituency MP. If you have to have a Conservative MP, then it’s good to have one with positively progressive views on Europe. Ken was first elected to represent Rushcliffe in 1970, and I don’t think it’s any coincidence at all that 57% of the constituency voted to Remain in the EU Referendum – that’s a tribute to the 46 years of service by a committed Europhile MP.
From a personal point of view, I’ve felt the need to write to Ken twice: first over Blair and Bush’s Iraq war and then, more recently, on Israel’s attacks on Palestine. Both times, he took the trouble to send me detailed, point-by-point replies. The first letter was actually type-written on three sheets of paper, the second was word processed using a typewriter font. Safe to say that Ken is old school.
Why did I write to him this time? Well, over the referendum and its aftermath, of course. I didn’t really have any specific points to make, and I’m fairly sure that I share Mr. Clarke’s view on most of this anyway… but I’ve watched the events of the last few days, weeks and months with growing disbelief, and I wanted to make my feelings known to my representative.
Here’s what I wrote:
Dear Mr Clarke,
Whilst I was pleased to see that Rushcliffe voted to Remain part of the EU in the recent referendum (thanks in no small part, I'm sure, to all the hard work you have put into the area over the last several decades), I was - as I'm sure you were - dismayed by the national results. I was even more dismayed by the events following the referendum that showed all too clearly that the "Leave" campaign had no clear exit strategy, and that our country was plunged into a crisis of our own making with no leadership or plan to get ourselves out of it.
These are dark days, with our political leaders fighting amongst themselves as racism and intolerance seems to be on the rise. We're perhaps a little bit insulated from this in leafy West Bridgford, but I'm nonetheless extremely concerned about the future. Perhaps I'm an idealist, but I see myself as a citizen of the world and as a European first and foremost, and I have little time or patience with those Little Englanders who will seek to blame the ills of this nation on anyone but themselves. I believe we're stronger together (both as the United Kingdom and as an integral and involved part of Europe); I also believe we have a duty to reach out to those people who need our help, wherever they may come from and whatever the colour of their skin. This has been an incredibly divisive campaign, and the aftermath is shaping up to be even worse. I look to you as my representative in Parliament to do everything you can to act as a voice of reason and moderation as everything seems to be coming to pieces around us. I look at the chaos in both the Conservative party and the Labour party and I despair, and I hope I can rely on you to use your experience and your wisdom to help steer us into safer waters.
I'm aware that I'm not really asking you anything that you wouldn't naturally already be doing, but I wanted to speak up to you as my MP to let you know how I felt and to express my concern to you rather than to do nothing.
I’m not sure quite what I’m expecting him to say, but I wanted to let him know how I felt all the same.
One of my friends wrote to her MEPs about this, and received the reply from one of them: “Astounding that you do not like the outcome of democracy. Brexit won, then end”. The same MEP then took to twitter and threatened to release her email and address details to her followers. Given that Janice Atkinson was thrown out of UKIP for racism and proudly has a profile picture showing her sitting alongside Marine Le Pen, perhaps this shouldn’t surprise anyone…. Quite why people vote for morons like this is another matter altogether (and this particular piece of cyber bullying is now with the police and relevant complaints authorities). Suffice it to say, I’m expecting an altogether different class of response from our Kenneth.