It was a certain amount of bemusement that I received and read a letter that was addressed to me in the wishful hope that I’d be someone else. It was from my local MP, a Mr Steve McCabe, who, now that I was eighteen, wished me to consider himself one of the better candidates for souls in my predicament. Sadly, however, I am not in the predicament that he described.
You see, to an MP attempting to garner local votes, there are two types of eighteen year olds. There are the ones who will be leaving very soon, to get to a university, and will thus be outside the MP’s constituency. However, there are also the ones who, if they have not already left, will probably stay in a similar area and commence to begin entering the world of employment. The former almost certainly not have a chance to vote for you. The latter almost certainly will. It should be fairly obvious which one to write your letter to.
Nonetheless, it was an interesting letter. I only saw one spelling mistake, and it was one that spellcheck doesn’t pick up (in/if). I enjoyed the advice that if I returned the letter freepost, this would be ‘at no cost to [my]self’. I wonder what sorts of freepost one has to pay for.
However, while my MP has tried to be helpful in this area, he has been downright obfuscating in others. ‘Last year I introduced a 10 Minute Rule Bill in Parliament calling for a fairer deal over youth employment.’ I understand that, as a busy and intelligent politician, Mr McCabe is a whizz on the parliamentary terminology. I suspect that many of his constituents, however, are not. Certainly, I’d expect many of the people who did know to be studying PPE (Politics, Philosophy and Economics), and thus to be in the ‘moving out’ group.
What old Stevey-boy wanted to tell me, I think, was that he worries about me getting a job. I don’t think this was meant personally, but was more a general comment on employment in society. I was disappointed by the standard ‘cost of Higher Education‘, by which I can only assume he means the £9,000 tuition fees. However, he seemed a lot more concerned about the ‘lack of job, training and apprenticeship opportunities’. You’ll note the lack of an Oxford comma in that last sentence, but that’s not too bad. He also doesn’t believe that one in five of us should be left ‘without a chance’, although I’d love to see some sort of source for that statistic.
But in many ways it was quite a positive letter. Despite not explaining what his 10 Minute Rule Bill was, he is quite keen that it should make a difference. Equally, he is quite happy to provide what he thinks to be good solutions, and practical, local ones at that, such as the Future Jobs Fair. Indeed, for every criticism he made of the situation, he made at least one positive suggestion about what he was trying to do to improve it. It’s honestly quite nice to have an MP who wants to make a difference so clearly.
I also noted that he didn’t once mention a political party. He mentioned the Government once, when he apparently called upon it to act in some way. Other than that, it was a local letter about local issues. In part, I suppose this is due to the reasons outlined at the start, that his target audience is clearly not the people who aren’t going to be especially affected by the local area. (I realise this is extremely cynical. I apologise – one of my friends is involved in campaigning for the Conservative Party, and for him politics really is like this.) I also understand that the Labour party in general may be considered to have ‘hit a rut’, as one could say. However, I’m sure he could have won some easy points by insulting Nick Clegg, who is universally hated. Even Nick Clegg’s mother hates Nick Clegg. [CITATION DESPERATELY NEEDED]
In all, I think it was a very honest letter. Mr McCabe writes ‘For me, unemployment is the biggest single issue facing young people in this area although I also recognise that many of you will be worried about […] other matters’. There was something quite enjoyable about the way that he was quite happy to accept that not everyone is passionate about unemployment. It throws young idealists (like me) who are more concerned with civil rights off guard. Equally, I was grateful for the slightly trite line ‘I can’t pretend that you’ll always agree with everything I do or say’.
All in all, it was a good letter. Mr McCabe underuses his comma, so the punctuation was a bit scarce, but it was legible, and simple, and the parliamentary letterheads were nice. It had a simple, yet detailed writing style, and it tackled issues in a positive manner, raising suggestions, and things that had already been done.
What am I going to do? Well, I’m going to fill in his questionnaire, and I hope that there’s room. I think I will also e-mail Steve McCabe, and ask him some questions of my own. And ultimately, if anyone happens to live in Birmingham Selly Oak constituency, I would thoroughly recommend voting for him. To be honest, the alternative is Nigel Dawkins, who writes newsletters about how glad his daughter is to use the play area. He’s a bit weird.