Chris Alexander

On Engineering

An Open Letter to Rob Wilson, MP #debill

18th April, 2010

Note - I recently received a letter from my MP, Rob Wilson, regarding his voting decision on the Digital Economy Bill. It seems that several other members of the community, and not only in this constituency, have received an extremely similarly worded letter. This is my reply, sent by e-mail on Sunday 18th April. If you are inspired to write to your own MP regarding this matter, please do so in your own words - it will strengthen our voice.

Dear Mr Wilson,

Many thanks for your letter, dated 12th April, concerning your voting decision on the Digital Economy Bill. As this is a matter that strongly affects my future and the future of many of my friends and colleagues, I would like to raise again my concerns regarding the contents of this Bill, and the manner in which it has been passed.

I appreciate the efforts of yourself, the Conservative party, the Liberal Democrats, and several members of the Labour party in attempting to prevent this Bill from containing many of the clauses and amendments that are of great concern.

However, I do not comprehend your justification for not voting on this Bill - that it is a Labour Bill and even the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats combined could not overturn it. If voters of the public applied the same rule, the turnout at general elections - that politicians so actively seek in order to validate their mandate - would be tiny. “What is the point in voting if the party I vote for is not going to win”, the voters would say.

You also state that this Bill was rushed through by Labour. Had you and your peers come out in force to vote against this Bill, then perhaps I would be inclined to agree with you. However, by not taking part in the voting process, you have simply helped the extremely low turn-out of Labour MPs succeed in pushing this Bill through into law.

During the debate, numerous MPs mentioned the flood of letters and e-mails they have received regarding the Digital Economy Bill. In addition to this, thousands upon thousands of tweets (messages on Twitter) were posted with the tag “#debill” both before, during, and after the proceedings in the commons. It is of great concern to me that despite all of this communication and debate around the Bill, these voices were still ignored. I would not like to see a situation arising in the UK Goverment similar to that which existed in the US Government, whereby powerful and rich lobbyists backed by large corporations could influence the passing of laws in their favour. I seek your assurance that you, your party, and the UK Government will not succumb to such pressures in the future.

My final point of concern is regarding your party’s pledge to revisit the Bill should you be elected, which can be adequately described by the common metaphor “bolting the door once the horse has bolted”. Nick Clegg, leader of the Liberal Democrats, has stated that the Digital Economy Act “badly needs to be repealed” (1). At least those of his party who did vote, all voted against the Bill. Can you and your party make similar guarantees to those of the Liberal Democrats if you are elected?

Many thanks for your time, and I look forward to reading your opinion on these points.

Chris Alexander

Student of Robotics, University of Reading, and web developer.