Daily Mail paint Mike Thornton as “Lib Dem Scrooge” in non-story of the year

Mike_ThorntonSo Eastleigh MP Mike Thornton used an agency to send out some Christmas cards on his behalf and some of them were sent out without stamps. He apologises for the error and rightly offers to reimburse what they recipients have had to shell out.

It’s not exactly high drama, is it? It’s hardly worth the space on the Daily Mail website with a headline screaming “Lib Dem Scrooge: Families have to pay £1.53 for letter that arrives with no stamp, only to find it’s their MP’s Christmas card.”

But then a headline saying: “Agency working for MP makes mistake. All those affected reimbursed” wouldn’t have quite the same impact.

These things happen. I remember a batch of letters going out at the Dunfermline by-election without stamps. People phoned up and complained and were reimbursed, usually within hours. Headline news? I don’t think so.


* Caron Lindsay is Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice and blogs at Caron's Musings

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  • If you cannot get this simple task right then the question is a simple one is it not……

  • Caron Lindsay Caron Lindsay 30th Dec '14 - 9:39am

    Have you ever made a simple mistake, Robert?

  • Where does the buck stop?

  • Jayne Mansfield 30th Dec '14 - 10:04am

    If one does not send out ones own Christmas cards, why send one at all. It is not just the greeting but the effort that someone has put in to sending it that makes one feel appreciated.

  • Tsar Nicolas 30th Dec '14 - 10:09am

    I agree with Caron, but I agree even more with Jayne. Sending out cards somehow makes sense at local ward level, but constituency wide?

  • Jayne Mansfield 30th Dec '14 - 10:14am

    He looks like a nice chap though and this seems like is a particularly ‘un- christmassy’ piece of mischief making.

  • Tsar Nicolas 30th Dec '14 - 10:40am

    Simon Shaw,

    I believe you can know a limited number of people personally in a local government ward – I don’t think you can say the same of 400 people across a parliamentary constituency.

    To believe otherwise is to believe that when the Lib Dems do a fundraising letter, you are getting a personal message from Nick Clegg.

  • Jayne Mansfield 30th Dec '14 - 10:53am

    @ Simon Shaw,
    Do you read the Daily Mail, Simon?

    I only read it when there is reference to an article on here. In my opinion, the most shameful aspect of this is that there has been such dumbing down of so called news reporting at national level.

  • You can’t know 400 people personally across a constituency? As the MP? That is being ridiculous.

  • Simon Shaw 30th Dec ’14 – 10:21am
    I thought that the most interesting thing is that the source of this ludicrous Daily Mail story was reportedly “Lib Dem activist Mr Linton, 60, …”.

    Well spotted, Simon. Mind you given the desparate state of our party in the majority of constituencies around the country I expect there will be some stalwarts scratching their heads and wondering how Eastleigh manages to have activists as young as 60.

  • I think less of people that send me bits of tree in the post when they could call, email, or better yet, come and see me. I like it when people have made an effort with handmade cards, I just don’t see the point in sending generic cards with generic messages, it’s a terrible waste of one of the resources keeping us alive. In this case it sounds like it was just junk mail and he had no contact with the card apart from signing them, so I have very little sympathy.

  • Paul In Wokingham 30th Dec '14 - 12:48pm

    Typical DM story. The card was sent to “400 local party supporters” and “some were mistakenly posted without stamps”.

    The “best rated” comment is: “BREAKING: Man forgets to put stamp on letter. Finally, a newspaper that has the guts to tackle the big issues.” And the second highest rated comment is “This may very well be the biggest non-story I’ve ever read.”

    Nuff said.

  • Tony Greaves 30th Dec '14 - 1:46pm

    A busy MP may see 400 people in a month (or less).

    I would be very surprised if our Tory MP has only sent out 400 Christmas cards – probably 4000 at least… Perhaps these were only to LD activists?

    But sent out by an agency? If Heather and I could send out about 400 between us (in total) an MP or MP’s office should be able to do so.


  • Typical gutter press. They’re a stain on this country the tabloid press are, and it sounds to me like they just wanted to write something bad about someone.

  • christineheadley 30th Dec '14 - 9:37pm

    We got two cards from Nick Clegg in this house – one for my husband and one for me! Complete waste of printing and postage. I had seen – and been amused by – the card online, but we didn’t need a dead-tree copy or two ourselves.

  • I work in the office

    All members, supporters and volunteers got a card. A child from a local primary school drew the card.

    TNT were paid to deliver but didn’t stamp them all. This is the result. FFS lib dem “activist” Mr Linton could’ve let us sort it out for him.

    Guess he’s off the Xmas card list

  • peter tyzack 31st Dec '14 - 8:43am

    but, John, it’s only 400 . Why couldn’t the office do it?
    I recall one General Election (when laser addressing was in its infancy) we had address labels run off from the constituency electoral register and three of us peeled and stuck all 65,000 of them.. but then we had no money to pay TNT or anyone else.

  • @Robert
    Your sentence was phrased as a question. It should have ended with one of these…. ?
    A simple mistake I presume.

  • If the office had done it would he still be able to say that it wasn’t tax payer funded? Our MP sent a card to the entire constituency. Inside it was clearly stated he paid for it himself. Still get people complaining it was a waste of money.


  • Anne Winstanley 31st Dec '14 - 10:05am

    For heavens sake! I know this is an open forum and not members only but many of the comments on here are more carping and critical of Mike and his office operation than the comments on the DM & local Daily Echo site!
    All the time I’ve been involved in Eastleigh all 3 LibDem MPs have sent out Christmas cards to all members, deliverers and other supporters each year, just I & my fellow ward councillors do to the sub-set of these within our area.
    This year Mike, as usually done, invited local schools to submit designs from pupils to a competition and the winning design, selected by Mike, was printed as a Christmas card. As usual volunteers sat in the office labelling envelopes, inserting cards and sealing. A mailing company then collected these to take away, frank and deliver to the Royal Mail sorting office. In some past years the volunteers in office have sometimes also stuck stamps on though you can very occasionally get one that misses getting stamped. Using a mailing company should avoid this but for whatever reason this year some didn’t get franked. Some definitely did get delivered without problems. However Mike chose to get all the stages in this process done is upto him and how he chooses to use the resources he has available. For anyone to say he needs to do this the was they would do it strikes me as quite illiberal and not what I’d expect to find from people some of whem are fellow LibDems. Maybe a very minor instance of illiberality but symptomatic of that state of mind.
    I know how long it takes to sit and write 35 cards, with written envelopes and stamp them for by own area. It is also a liitle cheaper to use a mailing company than sit and stick on stamps (540 – not 400) and then take them to sorting office.

  • David Evershed 31st Dec '14 - 12:39pm

    The lesson for Mike Thornton is that you have to put a lot of work into scrutinising who you choose to do oursourcing. For a one off task it can be less effort to do the job yourself than determine who could you could oursource to successfully.

    By the way I thought Nick Clegg’s card was lovely and showed a human side we don’t always see of politicians.

  • Chris Nelson 31st Dec '14 - 5:45pm

    The criticism of Mike Thornton and his office is quite unfair.

    I don’t know quite what happened in this case, but one common problem is that from time to time stamps fall off in the post as the adhesive on the sticky-back stamps simply isn’t good enough, leaving their hapless recipient with an unexpected bill. It really is unacceptable, and has been going on for many years without solution. (I have indeed had it happen to me this year as well – having received a Christmas card, with a £1.53 bill, after the stamp yet again fell off in the post).

    There have been countless times in the past that I’ve posted out letters on behalf of the party , making 100% sure through doublechecking and triplechecking that every single letter has a stamp and that they are firmly affixed, only to face angry letters or phone calls when a small percentage drop off in the post. I always reimbursed the costs of the receipient, often out of my own pocket, but it is nonethless very frustrating!

  • Peter Galton 4th Jan '15 - 5:43pm

    This is just more crap from the right wing press. Yes a mistake has been made but It is non issue. We have no friends in the press, we never have. Its a shame but people do believe what they read in the papers.

  • Jayne Mansfield 4th Jan '15 - 6:07pm

    If sending Christmas cards leads to this much hassle, why not make a donation to charity in lieu of the money one would have spent.

    A nice picture of the sender with a cheque showing the amount could appear in the local newspaper so that people realised that they had been appreciated in a positive way. Individuals do this, why not politicians?

    Given the added stress and distress that Christmas causes some, may I suggest the Samaritans as recipients.

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