Practise what you preach

We’re all guilty of it – doing one thing and saying another. But surely our politicians stick to their word as elected representatives? [Insert clearly sarcastic emoticon here] Ok well perhaps that’s a little optimistic but when someone publicly voices their dislike for something and then does this themselves surely that’s hypocrisy at its best?

I’m referring to Robert Halfon MP who last month publicly voiced his disdain about receiving ‘mass’-emails from his constituents via online campaigning organisations: “The problem is that these charities seem to think that impersonal emails – often with impersonal invitations to attend this or that reception – are the best way of lobbying MPs…Nothing could be further from the truth…the impersonal nature does nothing to ensure that I feel well disposed to meeting with or helping that particular charity or pressure group. These computer generated emails are more a curse than a blessing…” [Guardian Voluntary Sector Network Blog: Feb 3, 2011] In fact he even quotes an ‘old Soviet joke’ – “We pretend to work, you pretend to pay us” – hmmm anyone else see the irony there?

Ok granted he does acknowledge in his original article the amount of things sent to him by post but seriously if an MP wants to engage with people then how are they expecting this to happen – by carrier pigeon? Harry Potter would approve…

So when, in light of his comments, I went to the trouble of not only printing (environmental impact?) but posting a signed personal invite to Mr Halfon to participate in our ‘Activism vs Slacktivism‘ debate I at least expected an appreciation of this effort – ‘cos let’s face it how many people post invites these days? Perhaps it was as this was so unusual for me to do that I imagined a look of delight as he acknowledged the effort I had been to as he opened the letter – ok slightly idealistic I know!

Instead what did I receive by way of a ‘response’? A polite but clearly template standardised response – by email! Without even a subject line! (Shock horror at the non-professional email etiquette!) See below:

From: Robert Halfon
Date: 8 March 2011 16:38
Subject: (no subject)

Dear Ms Rogers Lowery,

Thank you for your letter inviting Robert to join you in Oxford on 21st March. Unfortunately, due to commitments in the House of Commons, Robert will have to decline you invitation.
Best Wishes,

Victoria
Office of Robert Halfon MP

Mr Halfon says the best advice for charities is to ‘make it personalised and local’ – well perhaps the local was where I failed, so sorry but I just don’t like Harlow enough.

[In acknowledgment of the speed of email over Royal Mail, I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt and wait eagerly for the post but I’m not holding my breath – after all email is a far more convenient way don’t you think Mr Halfon?]

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