MP defends Christmas card gesture

AN ESSEX MP has been accused of “self-publicising” after paying £1,000 to send a Christmas card and calendar to 40,000 homes in his constituency.

Elliot Furniss

AN ESSEX MP has been accused of “self-publicising” after paying £1,000 to send a Christmas card and calendar to 40,000 homes in his constituency.

But Douglas Carswell, Conservative MP for Harwich, has defended the move and hopes it will encourage more residents to contact him and raise their opinions.

Mr Carswell sent out the design, featuring images of him at various events both home and abroad, to every household in Harwich, Clacton and the surrounding villages.


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He said he had paid for the exercise through his parliamentary communications allowance - a total of £10,000 that is allocated to MPs by the Government.

But Terry Allen, mayor of Frinton and Walton and a member of the Tendring First Party, said he would rather the MP did not spend his funds on “vanity projects” but on improving the lives of people in the area.

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He said: “People want tangible things that they can see, feel and touch - improvements in our area. “What we need is someone local to stick up for the local people and ease their concerns and not spend thousands of pounds on self-publicising trivia.”

Mr Carswell said that rather than just sending out a Christmas card, as he had done in the past using sponsorship from local businesses, this year's calendar was more likely to be kept by residents - possibly by the phone or on a notice board - and used for future reference.

He said: “I'm the MP for 84,000 people. I probably had 2,000 people write, email or come to see me last year and I would like that to be a lot higher - and I think it would be if these people realised I'm available and I'm here.”

He added: “If someone wants to criticise me for keeping in touch with voters, then please let them. I don't apologise for keeping in touch with my constituents.”

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