In Southend, it seems, history repeats itself.
Back in October, the Conservative Member of Parliament for Rochford & Southend East, James Duddridge — my MP — decided that he didn’t want to answer my questions about the amount of public money he had claimed in order to stay in hotels. As a commuter myself, I thought these questions were pertinent, and deserved an answer, and I sent tweets to him to try and get one.
Since he didn’t agree, Mr Duddridge blocked me.
I don’t feel I deserved this, but I suppose I am an opposition activist. Maybe that trumps being a constituent. I happen to believe that an MP should work for all of their constituents, but in a constituency he plainly thinks is “safe”, maybe James Duddridge doesn’t see the need.
Thing is, I’m not the only constituent who has been blocked by Mr Duddridge for the heinous crime of asking questions. In fact, it seems to be his stock response to any that he doesn’t want to answer. Like his bizarre ideas on the UK’s relationship with the European Union.
Regular readers will know that I blogged, with more than a little alarm and confusion, about James Duddridge expressing that he wanted the UK to leave the EU before attempting renegotiation of our membership. This, from a minister in the Foreign Office, seemed particularly stupid.
Now you may think that that’s exactly what I would say, but I’m not the only one. Rochford & Southend East voter George Gillett decided that the subject was one which could use a little elucidation, and so took to twitter to ask Mr Duddridge himself:
— George Gillett (@george_gillett) April 9, 2015
The result? Well it wasn’t exactly a rigorous discussion of intra-national democracy and the minutiae of foreign policy…
— George Gillett (@george_gillett) April 10, 2015
That seems a bit much, no?
I could go off on a rant about how I think that James Duddridge is, on balance, a pretty awful MP, with a complete lack of regard for the people he’s meant to be representing. I’ve done it before, and I’ll doubtless do it again before too long (Don’t you know there’s an election on -Ed), but I think I’d actually rather let George speak for himself:
“After politely asking my local MP to clarify his views on an EU referendum, he blocked me on Twitter. I can no longer view his Tweets or contact him on the website. This sends a clear message that James Duddridge has no interest in listening, or responding, to his constituents’ concerns.
“Ignoring constituents entirely undermines any principle of representation, accountability and transparency in an MP’s work – it’s no surprise that young people are so disillusioned with politics when some politicians have absolutely no interest in representing us.
“I’m finding it very difficult to find a reason to vote for James Duddridge when he is so unwilling to engage with his constituents.“
If voters in Rochford & Southend East are sick of being repeatedly taken for granted and ignored by their MP, then I strongly recommend they do as I am intending to, and vote for Labour’s Ian Gilbert on 7th May, and tell James Duddridge where to go.