Beestonia and The Giant Postcard.

Wintergeddon hits Beestonia, yet at a ridiculously hour of the morning I’m stood outside Castle College stamping my feet to get blood to my frozen toes and wondering why I have lost all feeling in my nose. What madness is this? One benefit of being on the dole is that days like this can be spent within a womb-like duvet cave, with the occasional sortie out for tea / toilet  the only break in comfortville.  What could be drawing me from this 12-tog utopia?

I meet with Si and Kathy, a very fine Beestonian couple who, like me, are languishing on JSA. We’re here with a purpose though, and that purpose comes marching down the road a few minutes later, and props itself against the wall of Barton House, where our ever-popular MP has her office:

Yep, the CWU have finally decided the only way to get Soubs to listen to them is to actually go down there and present her with this:

…along with 600 letters from workers at Nottingham APC (The Beeston Ryland based sorting office) stating very clearly that they opposed Soubry’s support for the privatisation of the Royal Mail. This rather makes her claim in the House of Commons that (quoting Hansard)

“In my constituency there are 700 postal workers at the Beeston Sorting Office. To my knowledge, not one of them has written to urge me not to support the Bill. Two of them came to the Commons today to ask me not to support it-two in 700.”

 look rather misleading. In fact, it seems she misled the House, as she was lobbied by the CWU a full month before this statement. Of course, as I’ve shown before, Soubry saw this lobby as the CWU ‘misrepresenting’ its members. I asked a couple of the postal workers gathered if they felt misrepresented ‘Yeah’ said one ‘by her’. He pointed at Anna’s office window. 

This is a very serious issue. In today’s (Friday 26th) Beeston Express she once again tries to wriggle out of it by claiming a minority of letters lobbying her were from people outside the constituency, thus the whole process is flawed, she can ignore the vast majority/ the meeting with the CWU/ the 200+ letters sent to her office. Anna used to be a barrister. I am so happy I didn’t have her representing me back then. I’d probably be doing a life sentence for dropping a crisp packet in the street.

Photographs are taken, and the postalworkers get some quizzical looks from students at Castle College, probably wondering if somethings going to kick off and searching for fire extinguishers if it does. But its all very cordial, no chanting, just chat and complaints about the iciness of the weather while they wait for the photographer for the Beeston Express to show.

Then, the door opens, and…

Anna emerges at around eleven am, and looks slightly shocked at the gathering on her doorstep. She quickly tries to take control of the situation and tries to bundle the workers inside.But Darren, the CWU rep she has an 11.15am appointment with, doesn’t want to come in, pointing out that its too early. Plus, the Beeston Express hasn’t shown yet.

This seems to rile her. ‘I wasn’t told they’d be a protest’ she sputters. ‘We’re just standing here holding a giant postcard’ points out a female postal worker next to her. ‘Well, you’re causing an obstruction to the building’ Soubry counters, so those who are directly in front of the door sidestep, elegantly allowing access to any comers / goers. She concedes this small defeat, closes the door and goes back in.

Sheila from the Beeston Express turns up, and the postman once again gather round the postcard for pictures. Soubry pops out again, and starts asking who we all are. ‘Photographers’ I say, and this is true, as I’m taking a photo of her right then ‘huh, no you’re not’ she harrumphs at myself and Si (who I must credit massively for coming down with his stupidly high mega-pixel camera today, and snapping away despite suspected frostbite).

She gamely agrees to be photographed with the giant postcard, but not-so-gamely grimaces throughout.


The Beeston Express starts snapping, and politely ask her to move around so they can get a good shot: Anna looks so uncomfortable I half expect her to stamp her foot, run back inside slamming the door behind her shouting ‘God, you’re all so unfair’. But instead she just refuses to move, and seethes. It’s almost fascinating.

The CWU eventually decide its time for talks, and go to troop in. I decide not to bother sitting in: I doubt I’d be welcome, or indeed invited. One person who does try and go in however is Cllr. Steve Barber, who, as the representative of the Rylands, has the Sorting Office very much in his interests. He walks up, asks to enter and Soubry swiftly snaps ‘ CWU only’ and slams the door in his rather shocked face. ‘So much for the open invite’ Steve says, and we reflect on what Soubry’s predecessor, the sadly erstwhile Nick Palmer would have done.

Dr Palmer always had an ear for his constituents, and even if he was diametrically opposed to what they believed, would always listen, take on the issue, then try and explain his position. Politely, positively, and fairly. I myself am not a member of any political party, but supported Nick in the General Election as he was a great constituency MP. If Soubry had began as Nick finished, I would have willingly been cheering her along. But she has clearly only got into politics for her own ends, and only to provide vote-fodder. She is not interested in representation, not interested in her constituency (she would have loved Gedling a lot more, and must be hoping that Clarke resigns at the next election and leaves Rushcliffe open to her), and is not a benign presence in Broxtowe.

Or maybe I’m wrong. Maybe today she’ll listen to the desperate pleas of her constituents who see themselves soon to join me at the dole office every fortnight, despite working their arses off for years providing this country with a sometimes flawed, but still marvellous and cheap postal service. Maybe she’ll see every other privatised area, and  see how crap they’ve come (have a ride on East Midlands Trains sometime. Veal travel better). Maybe she’ll see trying to sell what belongs to the public to business people only interested in the bottom line, and sod the rights, the pensions, the jobs of those who ensure  their swimming pools are kept topped up with Evian. Maybe she will, and then maybe I can write something positive.

As I turn to leave and find coffee the temperature of molten lava, a DHL parcel delivery van pulls up outside Barton House. It reminds me of a crow circling a dying animal, and with that happy thought I head back up Chilwell Road and home.

big props to the postal workers who turned up, the ever wonderful Simon and Kathy and apologies to Phil Tooze of the very good Riot Photography for forgetting to get him down to do the pics. If you were at the meeting earlier, I’d be delighted if you get in touch to let me know how it went. Cheers.

11 thoughts on “Beestonia and The Giant Postcard.

  1. Si says:

    I should have zoomed in on her a bit more, looks like the guy in front is licking her ear Hahahaha

  2. Lib Dem says:

    I regret voting Lib Dem now. I never thought she’d be this bad.

  3. Nick Palmer says:

    I can’t believe Anna is still digging this hole. Sometimes one makes a mistake. One can deny it, attack people who point it out, pretend they don’t really think it, slam the door in their face…but ultimately it’s really simpler just to say “Oops! I was wrong!” People relate to that – we’ve all been wrong sometimes.

  4. Sarah says:

    How does right to recall work? They seem to be attempting it in Sheffield Hallam….

    • Nick Palmer says:

      They’ve not actually introduced it yet. It was in the Coalition agreement, but the expectation is that it will be tightly-worded to limit it to cases where the MP has been found to break the law (not the case here). The Hallam attempt is I think more to embarrass Clegg than in expectation of success!

  5. Sean says:

    Sorry Nick, but I thought purposely lying to parliament WAS against the law.

    • Nick Palmer says:

      Purposely lying to Parliament would be against the rules of Parliament, and if an MP does it there can be a complaint by anyone (doesn’t need to be an MP) to the Committee on Standards and Privileges.

      As I understand Miss Soubry’s case, it is: (a) Although I was aware that I had received several hundred signed postcards endorsing the CWU position, I had no way of telling whether any of them were employed in the Beeston sorting office, so when I said “to the best of my knowledge” I had had no communications from employees there, it was correct and (b) although I subsequently was told by my office that I had in fact had some dozens of letters from people as well, some of whom evidently were employees, I do not always read my post myself and I was not aware of them and (c) I think the union is incompetent sinmce they sent some communications to the wrong MP. That’s my understanding – if Miss Soubry would like to post any additional points of corrections, I’m sure she will.

      This case is perhaps most kindly described as bearing the hallmarks of legal training. I’ll just say that if one doen’t read one’s letters, it’s unwise to make comments about it in the House of Commons until one’s checked with those who do, in the same way as a duke who delegates attending to the post to his butler will normally check with the butler before commenting on it in the House of Lords.

  6. Sean says:

    So her staff was incompetent, not Ms Soubry. Therefore it’s not a lie because obviously Ms. Soubry didn’t listen to or deign to notice her constituents. That clears that up then …… and says everything about my representative.

  7. […] issues, such as her comment in Parliament about the postal workers (as reported by Matt at the […]

  8. […] Or perhaps she should call for her own resignation, after claims that she’d been told by postal workers that they supported privatisation? […]

  9. […] to a straight question, have worked hard as your MP and have got things done. You certainly do. You told the Royal Mail to ‘fuck off’ when they asked you not to sell them off to Osbor…. You called a constituent a ‘liar’ in public. There are numerous times when serious […]

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