4th May, 2015
Dear Sir [Name witheld from publication]
Thank you for your letter dated 29th April last. I have received quite a number of letters from all parts of the constituency, which at least gives me the assurance that my election address is reaching those for whom it was intended. However, I have to say that you are very much in the minority. Yours is the only letter I have had which was at all negative. All the rest have been positive. I have deliberately refrained from commenting on other candidates in this constituency so far but the tenor of your remarks now leaves me with no alternative. I find what you do not say more interesting than what you do say.
To deal with the points you have raised:-
Postal Votes. It is a source of regret to me that the leaflets did not go out sooner. However I was in the hands of the Royal Mail. If a candidate intends to use the RM Candidate Mailing Service, firstly their leaflet has to be “approved” by an RM Artwork Checking Team, then they have to be printed, sorted into bundles of not more than 100. They then have to be boxed in the numbers required according to the Royal Mail depot they are to be delivered from. I am then given a “window” by the Royal Mail dropping-off point, which in my case was 24th April. I then had to take them down to Portsmouth which is the dropping off point. They then have to bring them back to Bournemouth, deliver them to the local offices. Don`t ask me why, that is the system.
However, I take your point and I will try and get the leaflets out earlier next time. Unfortunately, I do not have the resources to do that at present. If you could persuade Lord Ashcroft to donate some of his millions to Patria rather than the Tories, I promise to do better next time. I would then be able to rent some offices and employ some staff as the Tories do. Since postal votes became available on demand, the whole system has become open to fraud and manipulation. One newspaper described it as a farce. Patria will only allow such votes where a good and sufficient reason is provided.
Patria has been leafleting generally in the Bournemouth West area in the last year or so, so the party name is not entirely unknown. And postal ballot or not, my name and affiliation still appears on the ballot paper. As you were not going to vote for me anyway, I can`t see why you are so bothered.
Capital Punishment. That is your opinion and, as they say, I will fight to the death for your right to say it. As regards never imposing it again, as you say, we cannot do it and remain a member of the ECHR. As Patria has committed itself to withdrawing from such encumbrances, where is the problem? Our party policy calls for the reintroduction of this punishment. It does not follow that it will be used for every act of murder. It will be an option available to judges in sentencing. How many judges would choose to do so is another matter. I have not mentioned Treason because I do not think there has been a case since 1946.
On a personal level I can tell you that until recently I was always opposed to this punishment in any circumstances. This was on grounds of conscience and because capital punishment once performed cannot be undone. However, when I saw the individual who had almost decapitated Lee Rigby proudly showing off his meat cleaver and bloody hands and claiming such behaviour would continue, I reluctantly changed my mind. Thanks to Islam (see below) our traditional tolerance needs to be rethought. I suggest that you rethink your views rather than resorting to reminding me of what you call “the fundamental human right to life”. As I write this I hear on the radio that ISIS have murdered yet another 300 Yazidi people. Where was their fundamental right to human life? As we have seen, such behaviour is starting to rear its ugly head in Europe. It is clearly time for things to change.
I find it ironic that you support Conor Burns and yet you lecture me. My understanding is that Burns is/was the Chairman of the Parliamentary Anglo-Bahrain group. Bahrain is a country which still retains the death penalty and even a right wing newspaper described its record on human rights as “dismal”. It is a country which nominally accepts homosexuality, yet arrested 200 homosexuals in a single day. As I am sure you are aware, Burns is a self-proclaimed homosexual.
My residence. Rather a weak point I would suggest. I live just 15 minutes’ drive from Bournemouth West. Are you seriously asking me to put the taxpayer to tens of thousands of pounds of expense for the sake of moving 5 miles? I can think of far better uses for that money.
You tell me that, to his credit, Mr Burns took up residence in Bournemouth West when he was elected. What you do not say is that this was all done at considerable public expense. As taxpayers, we are having to pay his housing costs. You also do not say that he is receiving rent from a property in Southampton (presumably his former residence) which goes into his pocket. It would not have hurt him to stay in Southampton (which is nearer Westminster anyway, where he should be spending most of his time). This would save on time, public transport, removal and household fees. It would not have hurt him to drive the 30 or so miles to Bournemouth as needed. I used to have to do it daily and it took me less than an hour.
I should also tell you that, as the carer of my late son (who lived in the constituency) for the last 4 years, I probably spent more time in Bournemouth West than your friend Mr Burns. My son did not live at an undisclosed address in Westbourne (Burns is the only candidate not to have disclosed his address) but in a much poorer area, where the real people have to live. If Burns had moved there rather than leafy and wealthy Westbourne, I might have been more impressed.
I do not know if Mr Burns owns this property but according to the Register of Members’ interests, he is certainly claiming large sums for its upkeep and running costs. If I am elected I will not move house, so the cost to the taxpayer will be nil.
You certainly give me the impression that you are very keen for overpaid and overprivileged MPs to spend public money which could be used much better elsewhere. They spend far too much already, including those many who have been caught out fiddling their already generous expenses. They should be subject to the same rules as are applied to civil servants, with the same oversight.
Donation of Salary. I find the use of the word “suspicious” rather worrying. What exactly are you suggesting? You are right that, as a retired civil servant, I receive a pension. I spent 40 years paying for it. There is a myth that civil servants do not have to pay for their pensions. If that was true, why were all those deductions taken out of my salary every month? It is not a large amount but it is enough to live on. I do not smoke, drink or gamble and rarely can I afford holidays. So why do you begrudge me my modest pension?
I certainly do not need another £67,000 and I could not in true conscience accept this from the public purse without making good use of it. I calculate that after the deduction of Income Tax and National Insurance that would leave me about £40,000 a year I could devote to local causes. Not a huge sum but over 5 years that would amount to £200,000. Believe me I could put that to very good use for the less privileged in Bournemouth. If this is something you cannot appreciate, it says a lot about your paucity of character.
While we are on the subject of money, in addition to his MP`s salary of £67,000, according to the Register of Members’ Interests, Mr Burns receives £40,000 pa for “consultancy” work in addition to the rent he receives on the house in Southampton. All told I would guess he is receiving not much less than the Prime Minister.
This £40,000 pa is for 10 hours work per month. This equates to £333 per hour. To earn that sort of money on the so-called living wage would require a typical worker to work a full 42 hour week. For a worker on the minimum wage (which Mr Burns’ colleague, the dreadful Iain Duncan Smith is so fond of) a worker would have to work a 62 hour week. £333 for an hour’s dubious work? A nice little earner I would say. Perhaps you might suggest to Mr Burns that he donates his £40,000 (after tax) to his needy constituents. He would hardly miss it.
If I am elected, I will move that the salary of MPs be reduced to the equivalent of the average national wage. This would amount to a saving to the Exchequer of about £26 million a year (650 X 40,000). That would certainly help the NHS, or fill some of the gaps in our severely reduced defence budget. It would also deter those from standing who are only in it for the money and those elected would know what life is like for us ordinary mortals.
On the issue of expenses, I would sleep in my office at Portcullis House if they would let me. As they will not, I will stay with my brother who lives in London. Again, the cost to the taxpayer, virtually nil.
Islam. Interesting that you should mention that. I certainly do believe in freedom of religion. What I do not believe in is the subjugation of women, including the mass rape of non-Muslim girls, execution for apostasy, lopping-off of limbs and the numerous other horrors that the “religion of peace” offers us. I am surprised that you should seek to defend it.
By coincidence, I happened to be coming out of the Civic Centre in Harrow last Friday (the town where I grew up and which now has a very large Muslim population). Opposite the centre is a large mosque, minaret and all. It appeared to be prayer time as a number of men were going in (no women). I counted 42 in all plus a door-keeper. I waited until they began streaming out again and I counted 51. Bearing in mind that praying 5 times a day is an obligation for Muslims, where were all the rest? I know several Muslims and I know that they can pray anywhere, provided they face Mecca and carry out the required ablutions. 1500 mosques is more than enough.
I would also add that every Muslim I met insists that every word in the Koran is literally true as the word of Allah, even the bits that contradict each other. They have urged me to join them to avoid being burned in Hell forever. Let me give you this quote from page 84 of my, admittedly English, version:-
“Verily, those who disbelieve in our signs, we shall broil them with fire; whenever their skins are well done, then we will change them for other skins, that they may taste the torment”.
The Koran is littered with similar sentiments. If this is true, I suspect there are places waiting for you, me and Mr Burns (no pun intended). A religion of peace? I do think not. Muslims have yet to reach an “age of reason” and what we should be doing is helping them towards this, not encouraging them in their ignorance. I am surprised you cannot see this.
My Deposit. I regard the election deposit as a desirable and necessary part of the democratic process. It is not so big as to discourage those with serious intent but little money. However, it is enough to discourage the frivolous and self-publicity seekers. You may have noted that in Parliamentary by-elections, there are always far more candidates in a constituency than you will see in a General Election. This is because a single contest under media attention will attract the publicity seekers.
My only reason for standing in this election is to promote the policies I have outlined in my election address. I have no wish for personal publicity and as mentioned earlier, I have avoided naming or attacking any other candidate. That is, until I received your ill-conceived letter.
For many years it was illegal to pay electoral “canvassers”. Canvassing can include the delivery of election material, not just the door banging most people have to endure. The major parties removed that restriction and it is now legal to employ firms to deliver your material for you, which is probably why we get so much rubbish pushed through our letter boxes. Clearly, this favours those with plenty to spend, ie, the major parties and disadvantages smaller parties such as Patria which are not funded by plutocrats such as Lord Ashcroft.
This is something else I would put a stop to. In the interests of fairness and democracy, election material would have to be delivered by volunteers only, or by the one free Royal Mail mailing. I also think we need to look again at the way certain parties are funded.
When I handed over my £500 I knew I was probably kissing it good-bye and I was quite happy to do so. What you forget is that it has bought Patria the free distribution of 53,000 leaflets. This enables us to concentrate on other things, such as writing this overlong letter, for which I apologise.
If I had to pay the rate for that charged by the Royal Mail it would have cost me over £3,000 (they charge £60 per thousand). If only one in a hundred responds, we will have over 500 responses. If only one in five of those join we will have 100 new members. I will be well content with this, whatever vote I get.
Patria Parliamentary Candidate for Bournemouth West