You may have read in press reports over the weekend that I wrote to Theresa May, the Home Secretary, offering to go to Malawi. I was asking her to intervene in the case of Florence and Precious Mhango and I said if she did not believe we had given sufficient evidence of what dangers lay ahead in Malawi for the two, I would go there myself and bring back more evidence.
I am serious about that. I don't WANT to go, of course I don't. I want to be lying by a pool on a Greek Island or sitting drinking coffee at a pavement cafe watching the world go by. Writing it in the letter was my way of demonstrating how serious I am about the need to protect the Mhangos. As I say I don't WANT to go but if that's what it takes, then that's what I'll do. But you know what really pisses me off? The individuals who are either posting (anonymously) on websites or emailing me demanding to know who will be paying for any such trip.
As if I could claim that on expenses! Don't be so ridiculous. One guy even said to me tonight
"since I understand you may be trying to represent people who are not on the voters roll you will understand the public interest in this matter".
Well let me tell you this: I have NEVER checked to see if someone is on the voters roll before deciding whether to help them or not and I NEVER will. In some parts of Glasgow up to 50% of folk are not registered to vote for whatever reason.
I confess, I am a politician who will help people whether or not they're voting for me and whether or not they CAN vote. Imagine that, how outrageous, how very dare I!
He then goes on to tell me I've not registered it in my declaration of interests, like somehow he's caught me out. Registered what? Maybe I've got this wrong but I thought you only registered things of financial benefit to yourself. It seems, according to this guy, that I've to make a public declaration that my job may be about to cost me an arm and a leg.
At least this guy's told me who he is so I can answer him back (and I did) but most of them are anonymous.
And the most popular criticism is that I'm spending all my time that they (the public) are paying me handsomely for, on just the one case. Otherwise how come they don't read in the papers about anybody else I'm helping? Could it be something to do with the fact that Mrs McGlumpher down the road would rather not have the world know her personal business and besides, the Evening Times doesn't find it all that newsworthy that someone's having trouble getting their bins emptied.
Let me make it clear, I have a lot of constituents coming to me for help and they all get help. In fact we have a pretty high success rate when it comes to sorting out people's problems. And seeing as I'm pretty sure I break that European Working Time Directive every week, I think I'll not be taking any nonsense about how much time I'm allowed to spend on each campaign or constituent.
I could go on ad nauseum about this but I won't. I've devoted far too much time to these people as it is. Don't get me wrong, I don't mind someone questioning what I'm doing, it's the demanding manner in which these people contact me, the "you'll do as I tell you because I'm a taxpayer and you're just a politician" sort of attitude that always tempts me to try it out on other public sector workers and see if I get away with it.
All of them remind me of my mum's war cry when we were younger which was "if you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all". I'm not brilliant at that one myself but I'm a whole lot better than these guys.