While East Devon constituents were asking MP Simon Jupp to vote against the Health and Care Bill on 23 November, he stepped in to delete comments and blocked further remarks.
The move to censor comments on his Facebook page comes after a torrid few weeks of being challenged by his constituents (and by me) on his voting record. It also appears to be an escalation of a pattern which has seen dozens of residents who are politely challenging him blocked from his social media platforms since he was elected in 2019.
That he has now blocked Facebook comments shows that he is on transmit and not receive. This does not demonstrate the qualities of a thoughtful and effective representative, nor does it demonstrate willingness to be held publicly accountable or even to listen, except on his own limited terms.
As Mr Jupp’s main opponent in the 2019 election, I have not felt the need until now to issue a press release to express my concern over his willingness to be held publicly accountable. His voting record should also be an increasing concern to residents. In the past two weeks alone, we saw him vote in favour of weaker controls on sewage in our rivers and seas, abstain on allowing Tory colleague Owen Paterson to escape the parliamentary standards sanctions despite serious wrongdoing, and in favour of hitting poorer people hardest with the social care cap.
There are many more examples, but these are just from the last few weeks. On 24 October, responding to his vote against strengthening sewage discharge controls, Mr Jupp retweeted a post from Richard Graham MP complaining that people were being abusive over the sewage vote. I believe this dubious claim is being used by some MPs to stifle legitimate comment and criticism.
If an MP votes in a way that disadvantages people or the issues they care about, they are going to challenge him or her and be critical. It’s Simon Jupp’s job to listen, not to block the very people he is supposed to represent. Nor is it acceptable that when top independent barristers are categorically stating that a vote outcome is going to be damaging to respond by posting a ‘line to take’ briefing from No.10.
I urged members of my ‘Claire Wright Campaigns’ Facebook page today to ask Mr Jupp to vote against the Health and Care Bill, which is an awful piece of legislation that will seriously compromise patient care by accelerating privatisation and carving the NHS up into pieces, making it even easier to sell off. Mr Jupp tells us that we can email him instead, but the point of putting comments in the public domain is that it draws attention to the issue and alerts other people who may wish to send their own messages. It enables the debate on the issue with an elected representative to take place openly and transparently.
Mr Jupp seems to be believe in democracy only when conducted privately. Equally, many people have complained on my own Facebook page that he often doesn’t respond to emails, or when he does it appears to be little more than a stock answer. I would like to challenge Mr Jupp to a public debate on democratic representation. I know he is busy so I will be more than happy to fit in with his availability.