Weekly Column


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MPs do stuff; but communicating that stuff is also vital. The people I represent need to know what I have done. As well as this weekly Column which goes to about 15,000 addresses, I have Twitter and Facebook accounts; although I have to admit that my social media presence is not all it could be. My website jamesgray.org is just about to be renewed and relaunched after many years of loyal service; I reply to every letter, email and phone call, usually within a week at most- and usually by Royal Mail (which supports the local postie and is a more permanent, even official, reply than a quick email would be.)

I do a bit of local and national media when invited. My Column appears in the Wilts and Glos Standard, and sometimes as a letter in the Gazette and Herald; I accept all local press ’bids’; and over the last couple of weeks, my media has included:- an ITV West debate broadcast (recorded by Zoom- would be better in the studio next time); long interview with Times about Environmental Cttee visit to Antarctica (over Christmas recess). Eventual article is fine, but annoyingly miss-spells my name! Interviews with Telegraph, Guardian, House Magazine; brief clip supporting Rishi Sunak on Channel 4 News; “Doorstepped” on entry Conservative Friends of Israel Lunch (essential support).

So I do my best to keep my constituents up to date with what I have been up to (even in the form, of the -perhaps rather immodest- list of my appointments at the end of this email.) What I try to avoid (although there may be a bit more of it in this election year) is the torrent of leaflets through the letterbox, relentlessly self-promoting or supporting one or another political party. I am not sure that adding to the vast amount of ‘junk mail’ which seems to be almost all we get these days is all that useful. Nor is it environmentally very friendly. And party political material which purports to be some kind of local newspaper is down right dishonest.

If politics and public life is to achieve the kind of respect it deserves, what we say to the public must be: modest, truthful, direct, uncompromising. For example, “Fred Bloggs Winning Here”, accompanied by a deliberately misleading bar chart, is not only boastful and a fairly worthless brag; it’s also demonstrably untrue. Perhaps I am sometimes too direct, too truthful; but at least that means that my constituents know precisely where I stand on particular issues, which I hope they respect even if they do not necessarily agree with it. So I will be (slightly) increasing the leaflet communication; but I promise to make it honest, straightforward, down-to-earth, no more than mildly self-promoting; and perhaps of some interest to voters in the run up to the General Election.

You can always let me know if you want to ‘unsubscribe’ – or I will be glad to add friends and family locally who might like to receive my weekly scribblings. (Email me on jamesgraymp@parliament.uk). It’s no good being hyper-active in Parliament and the Constituency alike, unless the people I represent know what I am doing on their behalf.

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James Gray
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Published Date
January 26, 2024