“You don’t speak for me!” A letter to Sheryll Murray MP

Official portrait of Sheryll Murray, MP for South East Cornwall by Chris McAndrew, Wikimedia Commons

I have long been incensed by politicians, particularly members of the current government, claiming they know what the ‘public’ want and the ‘people’ think. The Prime Minister is an expert at this: perhaps the only thing he has expertise in, along with lying and hiding in fridges. I can’t think of one single occasion when I have concurred with his proclamations.

The same goes for cabinet members who are wheeled out in the media to justify the government’s actions or support the PM. I have spent many moments screaming at the radio and TV: “I’m a person. I’m one of the people and the last thing I want or think is what you’re telling me I’m thinking and need to know!” Actually, my words are also peppered with expletives. I am usually feeling and thinking the exact opposite of these mythical constituents, all of whom these MPs claim, approve of everything they say and do. I find it patronising and consider it contemptuous and, indeed, a form of gaslighting. This practice should be eradicated because it is disingenuous and undemocratic in my opinion.

I have recently moved to Cornwall. On 26 January, whilst watching PMQs, as is my wont, I perked up when my new-to-me MP was called upon to ask a question amidst Mr. Johnson’s pathetic blustering. In seconds I was apoplectic with rage. The smiling Sheryll Murray, decked in emerald green, purported to speak for me, yet I disagreed with every single word she uttered. I found what she said, and the fact she wants the PM to stay in office, abhorrent.

I was particularly incandescent because she actually knows that is not what I think as I have sent her several emails to which I have only received the most perfunctory of replies. I know of many others in her constituency who feel the same. As far as I’m concerned, she has lied, or, at the very least, misled parliament. She did not represent my views.

I was so outraged that I wrote to her immediately. Below is my email.

Dear Sheryll Murray,

I saw that you appeared to look very well in the Commons this afternoon in your fetching emerald green outfit. I hope that this is the case.

I am writing, however, because I was outraged by your question and I believe that you have misled the house which, as you are aware, should be a resigning matter.

I am one of your constituents. Your remarks, which by inference, included all your constituents, did not reflect my thoughts/views in any shape or form as you well know if you have read my emails, particularly the last one.

Yes, Cornwall and a majority of your constituents voted Conservative at the last election. That much is true. What you cannot infer though is that the ‘good people’ of Cornwall and your constituents agree with the sycophantic hogwash that came next. At the very least you should have hinted that the points you made were representative of most of your constituents, if that is what your inbox is telling you.

On no occasion have I considered the handling of Brexit to be anything other than diabolical. The deal was far from oven-ready, was poorly put together and has had disastrous consequences. As I write, there are miles of lorry queues on the A20, and the Northern Ireland protocol remains unresolved.

On a more local level, daffodil growers have found it difficult to get their flowers to market, because of a lack of labourers, the Cornish fishing industry is in dire straits and, I daresay, many of the traditionally Tory voters in the farming industry are probably unhappy. Our beaches, too, are no longer subject to European blue flag standards and are increasingly becoming cesspits – literally – because private water companies have been let off the hook regarding sewage. Hospitality industries and tourism are also suffering because they cannot get the staff they need, many of whom came from Europe historically.

I really do not understand how you can call this ‘successful’. Yes, the deal was done but we are only just beginning to see how terrible it has been as the pandemic can’t mask what has happened indefinitely. I, one of your constituents, certainly do not view it as a success.

As for the pandemic, that too, has been mishandled time and again. Lockdowns and measures taken too late, then lifted too early, nightmare scenarios in care homes etc.

Yes, a vaccination programme has been rolled out. It is not ‘world-beating’. There are other countries which have rolled out vaccines as successfully, even more so if you look at the graphs. Furthermore, the vaccine was invented by scientists and rolled out by the NHS and unpaid volunteers. You and your party, in particular the Prime Minister, did not personally work ’round the clock’ doing this yourselves.

To add insult to injury recommended pay rises to those in the NHS, many of whom are poorly paid and are now struggling with meeting fuel and food bills, have not been implemented. This is probably of little importance to you with your ludicrous attitude to food banks.

What is more disgusting is that, while our NHS and front line workers were working round the clock and obeying the rules when not working, members of your party and the Prime Minister were partying and breaking the law. Something which the PM has misled the house and lied about. Without the commitment of these incredibly dedicated, compassionate, underpaid people the roll out would not have been successful.

As for lifting restrictions there are, as you implied, still very mixed opinions on this. As a member of ERG, however, I can see that you side very much with the likes of Steve Baker. Born again libertarians when you feel like it, but happy to take away our freedoms by endorsing Brexit, the Policing and Elections bills.

Time will tell how lifting restrictions will pan out. I fear, however, for the NHS, our educational institutions, and all key workers, let alone the general population. The Omicron strain is extremely contagious, can still be very dangerous, and could mutate into something worse, but hey, let’s party on anyway.

The economy is also far from being back on track. I won’t bore you with all the facts, as opposed to lies, we’ve been drip fed about that. But I am happy to provide evidence should you desire it.

So, we come to your final point. The remark that is untruthful. Will Mr Johnson continue to ‘deliver on the priorities of my constituents and the millions who voted for him?’ How dare you imply that my priorities are the same as yours?

You are paid to represent all your constituents irrespective of how we voted. Many, and increasingly more so do not have the priorities that the PM could possibly deliver on. Have you done an up-to-date survey of their opinions? I very much doubt it.

My foremost priority at the moment is that Mr Johnson should be sacked. We cannot call ourselves a democracy if we allow someone who has continuously treated the Ministerial Code and Nolan principles with contempt to stay in office, never mind the fact that he has probably behaved illegally too, whilst others were sacrificing so much obeying the rules.

It is not a question of whether cake, wine, cheese or whatever might have been consumed. It is a question of principle. Mr. Johnson is a proven liar and is totally unfit for the office he holds. He has brought the office into disrepute. There are no ifs and buts and he is not some naughty little boy, who just needs to apologize and sit on the naughty step. He is a grown man and needs to take full responsibility for his actions.

I would also like to prioritise a u-turn on the National Insurance hike and the removal of the twenty pounds on universal credit with immediate effect.

I have many other priorities, too, none of which resemble anything written in the Tory manifesto. I am not a lone nut job. I know of many other of your constituents who do not share your priorities or those of the Prime Minister.

By implying that we all share the same priorities you have at the very least misled the house today. You should resign.

Please be courteous enough to address these matters appropriately and do not insult me further by a two-sentence letter on HoC notepaper topped and tailed by you.

Although Chris Bryant has more than enough on his plate, I shall forward this to him and the Speaker of the House. I am also going to publish this.

Kind regards,

Nicola Tipton

I think it behoves us all, however tedious, to keep writing and holding our paid representatives to account.