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MP in "shameless" vote grab

PUBLISHED: 09:44 16 November 2005 | UPDATED: 16:03 25 February 2010

Colchester Borough Councillior.
Bob Russell, Lib Dem.
Pic:NICK STRUGNELL

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Colchester Borough Councillior. Bob Russell, Lib Dem. Pic:NICK STRUGNELL EADT 28.1.02 EADT 3.4.02 EADT 18.4.02 BUDGET REPORT EADT 26.12.02 EADT 16.5.03 EADT 18 07 03 EADT 16 10 03 EADT 6 07 04

AN ESSEX MP has been branded "shameless" after he wrote to parliamentary colleagues pleading for their votes in a Westminster competition.

Bob Russell, Liberal Democrat MP for Colchester, wrote to around 60 fellow MPs canvassing for support in The House magazine's annual parliamentary awards.

AN ESSEX MP has been branded “shameless” after he wrote to parliamentary colleagues pleading for their votes in a Westminster competition.

Bob Russell, Liberal Democrat MP for Colchester, wrote to around 60 fellow MPs canvassing for support in The House magazine's annual parliamentary awards.

He wrote: “I have been short-listed for the much-acclaimed award of Backbencher of the Year. It would be nice to have that engraved on my tombstone.”

Mr Russell added: “I would be most grateful if you could please consider voting for me, not for party political reasons, but in the hope that you feel I have played an active role as a backbencher in the general sense.”

He signed the letter, which was written on House of Commons notepaper, “Bob Russell - Voice of Colchester.”

But yesterday Stephen Pound, Labour MP for Ealing North, said: “This is about as shameless as it gets. The only thing you can say in his favour is he didn't actually offer to buy them all a drink.”

Mr Pound, who himself was nominated for Backbencher of the Year four years ago, said: “It would never have occurred to me for a second to embarrass myself or my colleagues by sending out a begging letter.

“The point is, if you feel you have to go to such lengths to try and persuade people to vote for you, you can pretty much guarantee you're not going to win.”

Richard Hall, managing editor of The House magazine, said he had not heard of any previous attempts by MPs to curry votes.

“This is the sixth year we have been doing the awards. I am not aware that anyone has ever organised a campaign in such a fashion before.”

He added: “We know he's been sending things round to encourage people to vote for him. However, we haven't got any rules about this. It is up to him.”

Mr Hall added that the magazine attempted to achieve a broad cross-party balance throughout the whole of the awards nominations.

Mr Russell is short-listed for the Backbencher of the Year award alongside Kelvin Hopkins and David Taylor, both Labour MPs, and Conservative John Bercow.

Voting in the competition ended last week and the awards ceremony will take place on December 8 in Whitehall Place.

Last night Mr Russell refused to comment.

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