I am absolutely furious at an e-mail I've had this morning from Nick Clegg.
Not for a minute do I actually think he wrote it himself - but I take the view that when you write something in someone's name, you really have to think about how it's going to be received. I'm betting that members in Scotland are generally going to be spitting mad about it.
The thing is, it was obviously differentiated because the very useful part of it was that it had very specific figures for your own area about how many people had been taken out of tax in the recent changes. That was brilliant and exactly the sort of thing that we are needing to hear.
Then it all started to fall apart, talking about things Vince Cable and Chris Huhne were doing on business and climate change - which is all very well, but they aren't the only ones in charge of that as far as Scotland is concerned.
We are in the middle of a crucial election for us and an e-mail was sent out in the leader's name that didn't even mention it. Yes, I know we got a superb one from George Lyon the other day when the manifesto was launched that was right on the money, but that does not make it right for Nick's e-mail to ignore it.
In the last few months since Them Upstairs had the good sense to appoint the Divine Helen Duffett to be Internal Communications Manager the quality of the e-mails from the centre has improved because I think she has a good understanding of what we members want and need to know. She's grounded enough in real life and absolutely gets it.
This one was a mistake though - and I'm more annoyed than anything else at the fact that it misrepresents Nick Clegg. Because he does get it. We saw that at Scottish Conference when he showed that he has such a good understanding of what's happening in Scotland and what we can offer it. He can hardly fail to when he has a Highland MP at his shoulder half the time, but even so, he always has had a very clear understanding of devolution. I guess a background in Europe helps with that.
I know perfectly well that that e-mail was probably sent out by some poor staffer who hasn't slept in a week and I don't want to get at them or anybody else. Everyone's running on low reserves at the moment. However, what I want to see come out of this is a definite decision that no e-mails are sent to Scotland and Wales during their elections that don't mention their key election messages. If the database can differentiate by local authority it can also differentiate by part of the UK. Nick has been done a dis-service today, and it mustn't happen again. Devolution goggles are needed when writing to Scotland, or Wales, or Northern Ireland.
It's a lost opportunity because we have some fabulous messages for this campaign. Tavish Scott and Jeremy Purvis launched an ambitious manifesto which, among other things:
- outlined plans to create 100,000 jobs in Scotland
- would invest in our kids & make sure that poorer kids aren't held back by their background
- would extend superfast broadband to make our businesses more competitive
- fights to keep services local, opposing a national police force and the power grabbing tendencies of the other parties.
- abolishes the Council Tax for poorer pensioners
- enables equal marriage, which almost two thirds of people support