Write to your MP

If you feel strongly enough about the forest sell-off, it’s easy to send an email to your MP. In case you’ve not used it before, you can write an email to your MP using Write to Them. You may get an “unhelpful” response (I’m being diplomatic) from your MP like BG, but at least you’ve registered your opinion.

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24 thoughts on “Write to your MP”

  1. Diplomacy is a tool for politicians to use amongst themselves. The electorate appreciate truth, facts and appropriate timely action. My MP is a hollow man. Fact.

      1. I really wanted to use the word “lightweight” instead of “hollow”, but I didn’t want to be disrespectful to backpackers šŸ™‚

  2. My MP is Danny Alexander, who opposed selling off Scotland’s forests a few years ago but now as Chief Secretary to the Treasury appears to support disposing of England’s. I have written to him. I don’t expect a reply.

    1. Chris, I’ve written to mine as well. Like you, I doubt I’ll get a reply. Most politicians like democracy in theory, but dislike it in practise. To be fair, I think the disastrous state of finances that the last government left behind has forced some ill considered decisions. If you look at the defence cuts for instance, they lack coherence. This is not to condone some of the policy choices that are being made. The right mix of spending cuts and fiscal consolidation is not obvious a priori. It’s a fantasy to believe we can borrow and spand our way out of this crisis. However, I hope that the politicians will listen to deep felt public opinion.

  3. I think the problem with the last government was that it didn’t regulate the financial sector, especially the banks, and that when it bailed them out it didn’t take enough control over them. I would stop all bonuses and tax the banks heavily. If all these brilliant people we can’t afford to lose but who got us into this mess want to take jobs abroad then let them – I am sure there are others who can do the jobs better. Ordinary people shouldn’t have to pay for their mistakes. The spending cuts are only necessary so that the rich can protect their wealth and bankers can go on being paid obscene amounts of money.

    1. I agree that the bank sector and senior executives have a lot to answer for. The Labour government also completely messed up regulation, concentrating on minutiae rather than the big picture of excessive lending growth (to be fair it was a global thing).

      However, the spending cuts we are seeing have very little to do with the problems in the banking sector and more to do with the massive overspending in the public sector. To have a structural budget deficit at the top of the economic cycle is absolutely criminal. Excessive public spending has meant severe cuts were needed to get the budget deficit under control. Because the NHS has been protected, the cuts have to fall more heavily in other areas, making the scramble to raise money even more acute. Hence the proposed sale of forests.

      Unfortunately the story of greed and incompetence is the same with each boom and bust cycle. It would be nice if the politicians and bankers showed a bit of contrition. As usual it’s the poor bloody infantry (i.e. ordinary workers and savers) that cop it.

  4. I think it was only massive overspending because the last government didn’t raise the money to cover it, which could have been done through taxation and which could still be done. The cuts are not essential. Taxing the banking sector and closing corporate tax loopholes would cover much of it. The problem with the spending was that when the banks had to be bailed out the money borrowed to do this pushed meant the deficit became a problem.

    By the way, I wasn’t overall a supporter of the last government and I do think it got many things wrong and was too bureaucratic and authoritarian.

    Making the politicians and bankers accountable seems impossible.

    1. The UK had and still does have one of the highest levels of tax and government spending as a percentage of GDP in the developed world (and one of the highest budget deficits as % of GDP as well, even after the cuts). I’m afraid just raising taxes would produce a crushing tax burden. If you raise the tax on corporations they will just re-domicile elsewhere and their tax would be lost, meaning that tax would rise for everyone else. Doesn’t seem at all fair, but corporates can go where they like, I’m afraid. That said, the UK’s problem is much more down to government spending being too high than tax collection too low. So much for “prudence” šŸ˜¦

      1. I found the following interesting:

        http://www.economicshelp.org/blog/uk-economy/uk-national-debt/

        “Although 64% of GDP is a lot it is worth bearing in mind, that other countries have a much bigger problem. Japan for example have a National debt of 194%, Italy is over 100%. The US national debt is close to 71% of GDP.”

        I see that at Davos Cameron is simply calling for cuts, cuts, cuts (but never for himself and the rich businesses that support him) while the US is talking about the danger of too fast cuts hurting the recovery.

        I am in favour of more government spending and I don’t think it was too high except in a few areas. If we want a decent society then we have to pay for it. I think we should call bankers and corporations bluff – let them go elsewhere, the gap can be filled. Otherwise we end up like Ireland – low corporation tax so businesses move there but low tax revenues so the economy has to be bailed out and people have to suffer.

      2. Japan and Italy are regarded as basket cases and candidates for a funding crisis. US debt to expected to peak at around 95% of GDP. Anywhere over 80% is regarded as potentially dangerous (Reinhart & Rogoff). UK under Darling was expected to peak at 79%. Now expected at 70-75%. Not much room for error! Just because you are less drunk than others doesn’t mean you are safe to drive a car.

        “The gap can be filled elsewhere”, only by raising personal taxes (VAT and income) substantially, so it doesn’t work. Govt. expenditure as % of GDP is now at a 30 year high http://www.ukpublicspending.co.uk/downchart_ukgs.php?year=1900_2015&state=UK&view=1&expand=&units=p&fy=2010&chart=F0-total&bar=0&stack=1&size=1074_757&color=c&title=UK%20Public%20Spending%20As%20Percent%20Of%20GDP&show= . Given the corruption, waste and incompetence in government, why would you want it to spend more of your hard earned money? Social policy has been an almost total failure over the past thirteen years and government has been ever more intrusive and curtailed our freedoms. I’m not advocating a Tea Party approach, but ever more government expenditure is not a panacea. I find it perplexing that people have so much faith in governments spending OUR money wisely, when the evidence points conclusively in the opposite direction. Perhaps I’m getting old and crusty!

  5. Let’s face it – the only way to prevent bankers from playing fast & loose with money is to keep the stuff away from them. As for politicians, well, they’re (in)effectively public servants so maybe the public should set their salaries… performance-related pay, perhaps?

  6. What’s the alternative to government? Big business isn’t the answer. With the government we wouldn’t have the NHS, social welfare, universal education, national parks, nature reserves and much more. Government represents us, in a sense it is us. The current row over forests shows this. People want forests to be state owned because then they are our forests.

    The problem is how to make government as representative and competent as possible not to hand everything over to the private sector, which would be far worse. Big business needs regulating and controlling and only government can do that. It doesn’t do it very well but the alternative is a free for all.

    1. Part of the problem is that our Governments are often seen to be:
      unrepresentative of us;
      going their own ways;
      remote;
      untrustworthy;
      unwilling to be accountable for themselves;
      willing to waste our money and then legislate to take even more to cover their cock-ups;

      and MPs are often seen to be:
      incapable or unwilling to see situations from viewpoints other than their own;
      directed by the Whip or the party line rather than the electorate;
      on a one-way journey to individual riches – we have a system that lets us vote members in, but it doesn’t let us vote them out;
      hanging in there for a peerage;

      Sometimes I get the impression that the two Houses aren’t The Lords and The Commons, they’re The Lords and The Lords-in-Waiting.

      1. I think all that is true yet people see the government as valuable despite all this. I certainly think the system needs changing – with proportional representation and more accountability.

      2. Perhaps it’s just age, but it does seem to have become worse. No wonder people are increasingly cycnical about the political process. Windfarms and forests are just a small sample. Eric Savareid’s law: ” The chief source of problems is solutions”

    2. Surely it’s a question of balance. Government has a role in the economy but if it gets excessive it becomes corrupt and corrosive, viz. communist and LatAm dictatorships. Do you really think government spending as per cent of GDP should go beyond the excesses we saw at the end of the 1970s when the UK was the sick man of Europe? My feeling is that it has reached the limit and that it has wasted a lot of money over the past five years, frittering away a previously strong fiscal position.

      I agree with you that making govenment more sensitive to the wishes of the people and more representative is a key challenge. Do you think it has become more so over the past decade? I think it has become more detached and dictatorial. You can’t blame that on the coalition. They may continue the trend or may reverse it. Time will tell.

      Surely a vibrant mixed economy is the best solution where a private sector can flourish and create wealth together with a public sector that can deliver quality services. A balance between regulation and freedom has to be struck. If you ask most people involved in real businesses, particularly small businesses, they will tell you that the pendulum has swung too far in terms of government red tape and regulation.

      Returning to the issues of cuts,cuts, cuts. If we don’t reduce the budget deficit, where’s the money going to come from? With the best will in the world, you won’t raise much from the corporate sector as they will relocate overseas. The personal sector (i.e. you and me) is suffering the worst fall in real income since the 1930s (mainly because taxes are going up). Borrowing is just deferring the problem into the future. Believe me, I’ve been in economics for over thirty years and there really aren’t any free lunches. Sooner or later you have to pay the piper. Alternatively you could just default like Argentina and destroy all your pensioners savings. That’s the road the last government started down.

      1. Certainly there has to be a balance. And government certainly wastes a great deal of money. How to make it more efficient is a key question. Bureaucracy creates bureaucracy so we end up with an NHS overloaded with bureuacrats but short of medical staff.

        I agree that Labour became too detached and was in power too long, as were the Tories before it. But given the speed with which the coalition has become detached and out of touch (and also incompetent in many respects) I wish we had a Lab-Lib pact (I think the Liberals would have muted Labour’s authoritarian tendencies).

        I’m self-employed and work mostly with small businesses (publishing and outdoor gear) so I’m aware of the situation with red tape and regulation. But I’m also aware of the short cuts industry – especially big business – will take if not regulated. Look at BP and the Gulf oil spill. It’s a question of balance again.

        As I said I think the government should make corporations pay more tax – or stop them using tax loopholes to start with – and if they move abroad then assets should be seized and nationalised. I opposed the nationalisations done by the Tories, especially Thatcher – the politician I despise more than any other and who I hold responsible for much that is wrong with society due to her principles of greed, selfishness and oppression – and I am sure that the railways, power etc would all be cheaper and more efficient if nationalised and run as services not as competing companies with profit as their prime motive. I’d nationalise the lot today. The Labour government lost my respect early on by standing by Thatcher’s policies.

      2. Thanks for sharing your views, Chris. Let’s hope Holyrood listen to the people on wind farms and that Westminster listens on forests. The precedents are not good, though. šŸ˜¦

  7. Whatever you may think about MP’s they will (usually) respond to all correspondence! Actually MP’s are amongst some of the most accessible politicians in the world, certainly much easier to get to than a Congressman in the States. Having met my own MP at Westminster I can vouch for this, as to how much help/notice they take, well that is a different matter.

      1. @ Wurz – getting a response is one thing, getting a proper response is another. When I ask for my MP’s support, I want HIM to tell me that HE will help, or to tell me why HE won’t. What I actually get is a second-hand statement from a totally different politician. It shows ignorance, a total lack of gumption and a penchant for passing the buck. I’m beginning to think that my MP is just a glorified internal mailman.
        23+ years he’s been MP here, in all that time I’ve never seen him and never had his signature on a written reply. Maybe he works the nightshift in the mailroom?

  8. Good points BG!. The MP before my current one only ever replied by sending his party and government statements on issues. I never knew what he actually thought or was prepared to do. Unsurprisingly after two terms he lost his seat and was replace – by Danny Alexander! Who I must say used to actually answer queries and requests personally, though since he became Chief Secretary to the Treasury he’s become quite quiet. Probably embarassed by those picture of him at anti forest sell-offs in Scotland after the SNP suggested them a few years ago.

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