A Lewisham woman was left speechless by her MP’s reply to a question she put to him about policy, telling her she didn’t know what she was talking about.
Shannon Hawthorne, 28, from Sydenham, told EastLondonLines that Jim Dowd’s rude response has left her feeling “appalled” and belittled. She had emailed the MP for Lewisham West and Penge with enquiries about why he abstained from a vote.
Dowd responded to her points before adding: “When you discover what it is that you think that you’re talking about you might let me know!”
“Whilst you may/or may not be content with this reply, this is my view – agree or not as you choose – but don’t bother to respond further as this is it. You asked for Yes/No and you have it – the end!”
Hawthorne said: “I was just appalled by his reply. There’s just nothing in my email to him that warrants such a hostile and rude response.”
“I was polite, clear and measured in my questions, and as a constituent, deserved a far better response.”, she added.
Dowd replied on October 19, 49 days after Hawthorne had contacted him via email with her questions about his views on the Welfare Reform and Work Bill.
“What I found most disgraceful was his attempt to belittle me and to shut down any further dialogue by telling me not to bother to respond,” said Hawthorne.
She expressed her concern about the precedent it sets and said: “It sends a terrible message to local constituents, and certainly makes me feel like emailing Jim Dowd on future issues would be a complete waste of time.”
“Unfortunately I think it is the arrogance that comes with having a safe seat,”
Dowd, a Labour MP, won 50.6% per cent of the vote in the general election, with a majority of 12,714 votes over the Conservatives.
Hawthorne said: “What’s bizarre is that Labour is really pushing this message of ‘new politics’ where they reach out to people who wouldn’t typically be engaged in politics, and then you have an experienced MP sending out an email like that.”
This all comes less than a month after Jeremy Corbyn, Leader of the Labour party, gave his first speech at the party’s conference in Brighton, in which he said he wanted a “kinder politics”.
“Treat people with respect, treat people as you wish to be treated yourself, listen to their views, agree or disagree but have that debate,” said Corbyn in September.
Hawthorne initially took to twitter to express her feelings about Dowd’s response and received support from fellow Twitter users.
— Shannon Hawthorne (@shanmia) October 19, 2015
— Benjamin R (@streboria) October 19, 2015
EastLondonLines has contacted Jim Dowd and Labour for comment but received no response by the time this article was published.
Full Transcript of email’s obtained by EastLondonLines
Tuesday 1 September 2015
Dear Mr Dowd,
I’m writing to you as a constituent of Lewisham West and Penge, with regard to the Welfare Reform and Work Bill. I understand that you abstained from voting the Bill at Second Reading. As a local constituent, I would be grateful if you would provide responses to the following questions:
1) If you had been given a free vote, would you have abstained on
this bill at Second Reading? If not, how would you have voted?
2) Do you agree with the following proposals in the Bill?
a. The renaming of the Child Poverty Act as the Life Chance Act
b. The removal of income-related targets as part of child poverty
c. The reduction of the benefit cap to £20,000 (/£23,000 in
d. The limiting of child benefits to the first two children
3) If the Bill put forward at for a vote Committee Stage is in the same form as it is currently, will you abstain or oppose it?
Given the high level of poverty and deprivation in areas like Lewisham West and Penge, I’m sure you agree that it is vital that MPs like yourself oppose unnecessary, damaging austerity measures wherever possible.
As such, I’m sure you can understand why I, as a constituent, am not only disappointed but also perplexed that you chose to abstain at Second Reading, and why I am seeking your assurance that you will oppose the measures in this Bill at all future opportunities.
While I recognise that you deal with a large volume of constituent correspondence, I would appreciate a response to each of the points raised above, as opposed to a generic ‘cut-and-paste’ reply.
I look forward to hearing from you,
Subject: RE: Welfare Bill
Date: Mon, 19 Oct 2015 18:14:35
Dear Mr/Ms Shannon
2)(a) No preference (b) No (c) No (d) Yes
Committee Stage is far more than just Yes/No so when you discover what it is that you think that you’re talking about you might let me know!
Whilst you may/or may not be content with this reply, this is my view – agree or not as you choose – but don’t bother to respond further as this is it. You asked for Yes/No and you have it – the end!
Jim Dowd MP