My current MP is self-absorbed multimillionaire property speculator Paul Uppal. One of my friends wrote to him detailing her concerns about the government's assault on the National Health Service.
Amazingly, she got a reply:
Thank you for contacting me regarding the Government's Health and Social Care Bill.
Last year, the Government set out the changes it wants to see in the NHS. We also set out why the NHS needs to change: first, because Ministers want to protect and improve the NHS so that it can be even better in the future; and second, because – with the pressures of an ageing and increasing population, new technologies and rising costs – the NHS simply has to adapt and improve.
The changes the Government want to see are simple ones. First, where patients have greater choice and control over how and where to be treated. Second, where the NHS is left free from political interference to focus on what really matters – whether patients get the best possible care. Third, where doctors and nurses are driving improvements in patient care, and supported by high-quality management.
The Health and Social Care Bill sets out how, in legislative terms, we will meet these aims. The Government recognises, however, that there are some concerns. Many of these concerns are genuine, but many are based on myth. Doctors and nurses are asking about what these plans will mean for them. Patients and carers want to see how these changes will improve services for them. We hear those concerns.
So, now that the Health and Social Care Bill has successfully completed its Committee stage in the Commons, the Government is going to take the opportunity of a natural break in the legislative process to pause, listen, reflect and improve our plans. This is a genuine listening exercise. Where there are good suggestions to improve the legislation and the implementation of these plans, changes will be made.
I welcome your interest in these essential reforms. Indeed, the Government is encouraging everyone to help improve its plans, so that the NHS is protected for future generations as a high-quality and comprehensive health service – free at the point of use and based on need, not ability to pay.
I do believe the Government’s listening exercise is genuine. Ministers are taking the opportunity of the natural break in the legislative process to pause, listen, reflect on and improve their plans for NHS modernisation. Where there are good suggestions to improve the legislation and its implementation of the plans, changes will be made.
Some concerns about these plans are based on myth, such as the belief that we are not trialling the changes. However, some are genuine. This lobby group is raising concerns about cherry-picking, about involving the full range of experts in commissioning decisions, about competition on price, and about democratic accountability. It has always been the Government’s aim that cherry-picking should not be permitted, that commissioning should involve the full range of experts, that competition should be based on quality, and that the NHS is made more democratically accountable. These are all areas where we have already strengthened our plans, and hope to improve them still further.
I would strongly encourage you to contribute to the consultation which you can do online at healthandcare.dh.gov.uk. I would be very interested to receive a copy of your submission.
Thank you again for taking the time to write to me.
Paul Uppal MP
Now, she and I are both academics. We spend a lot of time reading students' written work, and we can smell plagiarists from a mile off. We know when a sentence is nicked from somewhere, and Uppal's response stunk like a dead fish with halitosis. Putting his signature in a different font is a classic schoolboy error.
So - like I do with cheating lying students, I got onto what my dad calls The Google. Well, you could have knocked me down with a feather when I found this letter to an MP and his reply:
Member of Parliament for East Devon‘Now this isn't the time to do a deconstruction of the multiple lies and distortions in this dishonest speak-your-weight garbage, or to critique both MPs' refusal to address the specific points raised by their correspondents. It's the time to excoriate these lazy bastards and this cynical, arrogant government for the way they treat us.
So much for the idea that Parliament is the place where fearlessly single-minded representatives examine every proposal for flaws and speak truth to power…
Marks for original thought: 0
Marks for blatant contempt for your constituents: 10.
(In the interests of balance: Labour did it too. They all view citizens as carping, moronic whingers getting in the way of governance).
Can I ask you all to write to your Tory MPs and see how many send the same letter out? According to this site, Nigel Mills MP, Steve Baker MP, Damian Collins MP, Nick Boles MP, Andrew Selous MP, while the Lib Dems send out a similar stock response which almost but doesn't quite end with 'not the face!'.
I love the Internet. Before that, they might have got away with this kind of behaviour. Now we can all compare and contrast in seconds.