A UK pensioner living in Australia wrote to Tory MP Andrew Percy to express his fears about the government’s freeze on pensions for ex-pats in some countries – those in EU countries and the US get ‘triple lock’ increases, those in Australia, New Zealand and Canada, for example, do not. Recent changes in exchange rates have hammered the value of frozen pension payments.
Percy’s response was noteworthy – but just the beginning of the story:
The pensioner’s anxiety about having to move back to the UK was met with amusement – and offence on the part of the MP, who said that he felt insulted by the mere suggestion that he has to ‘take the party line’.
The pensioner and his family were not the only ones to find the MP’s response surprising – Jon Stone, a journalist with the Independent, found it ‘amazing’:
But that was far from the end of the matter. The SKWAWKBOX wrote to Mr Percy to ask him about his exchange with the pensioner. We sent him a copy of the exchange and asked:
The person emailing you seems in evident distress over the policy under discussion. Do you feel your response is appropriate? What is the ‘insult’ you refer to in your last line?
Mr Percy’s response?
Thank you for your email from your partisan blog. I had previously blocked your email account to another address and will be doing so again due to your previous attempt to bully me.We don’t comment on private conversations with individuals on issues, other than you can clearly see that the reply was in response to the deeply insulting suggestion that I am some sort of robot who only trots out the party line.Please do not waste parliamentary time with what amounts to part two to your previous attempt to intimidate and bully me with your partisan blog.
A ‘previous attempt to intimidate and bully‘ him?
Mr Percy was referring to an incident last year in which the S*n attempted to smear Labour MP Laura Pidcock for going on a holiday to Venice – with the full permission of the party – that her partner had arranged for her before she was even an MP.
The smear included a quote attributed to Mr Percy in which he attacked Ms Pidcock:
Laura Pidcock should be apologising to her constituents and to Parliament for doing what she herself accused others of just a few days before.
Ms Pidock had not done any such thing – so the S*n quietly changed Mr Percy’s words to “for doing what her fellow Labour MPs accused others of just a few days before”.
Changing a crucial quotation – without flagging the change/correction. Or had Mr Percy himself changed his words?
So we asked him:
- which version of the words is correct – the one accusing Laura Pidcock of personally criticising Tory MPs for not voting or the later one saying Labour MPs made the criticism?
- did you change the quote or did the Mail? If the latter, did they have your advance permission for them to do so?
- what do you think of the Mail changing its quotation of your words without publishing a correction notice or apology to Ms Pidcock?
- you criticised Laura Pidcock’s absence on the basis that she or Labour MPs had criticised Tory MPs for being absence for last week’s UC vote. There was no vote this week, so she merely missed – with her whips’ permission – some talking in the Commons and didn’t miss a vote. Isn’t that in fact hypocritical and disingenuous of you?
Mr Percy declined to apologise – but withheld permission to use his response. However, he did not withhold permission to use today’s, which makes plain that he considered the four questions listed above, in an attempt to get to the truth of a troubling mismatch, to be bullying.
And now, asking whether his response to a pensioner – which the pensioner considered to be rude – was appropriate and why Mr Percy felt insulted? Well, that’s just “part two to [our] previous attempt to intimidate and bully” him.
We sent a response to Mr Percy’s email, from an alternate email address so he would have a fair chance to see it and answer the pertinent questions if he chose to:
Thank you for the interesting response. Can you clarify why you consider asking you a question to be ‘bullying’?
Also, you told Mr ______ you stepped down as a minister in order to express your ‘independent voting’. Yet according to http://www.publicwhip.org.uk/mp.php?id=uk.org.publicwhip/member/41770, while you voted against the party line significantly in your first term and occasionally in your second, since you returned to the back benches in June last year, you have done so zero times. Are you planning to catch up?
Mr Percy has not so far responded.
Edit: seems Mr Percy has been on a roll today – see this thread by Evolve’s Matt Turner:
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