Colchester: MP tells constituent to ‘get a life’

A CONSTITUENT who wrote to his MP asking that taxpayers’ money not be spent on next year’s royal wedding has received a reply telling him to “get a life and stop whinging”.

Bob Russell, Colchester’s MP, said he is standing by his comments “100 per cent” and that he was entitled to “respond robustly” to a provocative letter which he said was belittling the royal wedding.

Garry Burbage, of Canterbury Road, sent an email to the Liberal Democrat MP expressing his concerns over the cost to the public purse of Prince William’s wedding to Kate Middleton.

In his reply, Mr Russell said: “Haven’t you got something better to do in your sad life? Bit of a spoilsport, aren’t you!? What a miserable person you must be!

“I would argue that the spirits of the nation – other than, obviously, for people like you – will be lifted by the event, if not as royalists then by having an extra public holiday. Of course, you could always forgo the day off and offer to do some voluntary work. You will not be forced to participate in the celebrations.”

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Mr Russell signed off the reply by saying: “I suggest you get a life and stop whinging!”.

Speaking to the EADT yesterday, the MP refused to apologise for the letter saying: “I think my response on this occasion was correct. Some people may well think it’s harsh, but I’m sure other people will appreciate having an MP who speaks his mind.

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“I was responding to what I felt was an offensive letter which was belittling the royal wedding and it’s my right to tell him where to get off.

“Mr Burbage contacted me with the intention of trying to illicit a negative response and this letter has been brought to the attention of the press by a Labour councillor who is seeking to make political mischief.

“I have thousands of constituents who write to me all of the time and the agenda of this letter was provocative and politically motivated.”

Mr Burbage said: “I consider the response I received as a personal attack about myself as an individual and my life, which Mr Russell knows nothing about. I find it incomprehensible to be told that I have a sad life and must be a miserable person – I was only asking a question as a taxpayer and a voter.”

After receiving the reply, Mr Burbage contacted Kim Naish, a councillor at Colchester Borough Council.

The Labour councillor said: “I think it’s a completely inappropriate way for an MP to act and he shouldn’t have written to one of his constituents in this way. Whether he agrees with Mr Burbage or not he should reply in a polite and courteous manner.

“Any constituent should be able to write freely to their MP without getting a reply like this. I shall be reporting the matter to the parliamentary standards committee.”

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