Well, that certainly put a cat among the pigeons...
On Monday I published this post on Anne Milton's failure to publicise surgery details and anonymous 'contributors' came from out of the woodwork to defend Anne's position.
Well, actually, what they mostly did was attack mine. Their 'arguments' ranged from unsubstantiated claims that I'm a member of the Liberal Democrats to assurances that the appointment policy was due in part to unstable people like me wanting to do the poor woman harm. They even went on to suggest that I was the thin edge of the terror wedge. But they did nothing to disprove my actual point.
Well, they *almost* did, but I'll get onto that foot-in-mouth moment in a jiffy. Firstly, here is what has been established so far:
FACT #1 - Anne Milton had a 'no appointment' policy when she held psudo-surgeries before the election, but she has an appointment policy now.
Best defence from the Miltonites: Now she's a 'high profile' MP, she is a target. Sue Doughty required appointments. Wahhhh!
FACT #2 - Anne Milton publicised her pseudo-surgeries heavily - even to the point of advertising in the Surrey Ad - before the election, but has failed to do so now she's been elected.
Best defence from the Miltonites: Two anonymous contributors (make that 3 - see below) claimed to have received literature through their letterbox that contained surgery details. Again, I'll get onto that in a jiffy.
FACT #3 - Upon becoming an MP, Anne Milton did not go anywhere near the lengths Sue Doughty once went to to publicise her advice surgeries. Within weeks of becoming our MP, Sue Doughty put out posters showing dates and localities and the number to call to book an appointment and had them distributed to local public libraries and/or posted on public noticeboards. Anne Milton has failed to do the same.
Best defence from the Miltonites: A suggestion that 'Lib-Dem thugs' had been tearing Anne Milton's surgery notices down.... but no claim that they were published or put there in the first place.
FACT #4 - Anne Milton does not mention the current availability of surgeries on her website (unless you count the references made to them in PDF versions of Conservative leaflets that 'tomtom' argues put them 'in the public domain') and she certainly doesn't list dates and locations as many other MPs do.
Best defence from the Miltonites: "What other MP's (sic) do is their business."
On that last point, I'd just like to say that this makes Anne less than extraordinary. In fact, it makes her efforts seem less than ordinary. Moving on...
All of these 'defences' were buried amongst a load of accusatory hyperbole and diversion. When asked to put up or shut up on any particular claim or accusation (be it on-topic or not), they failed to put up... then failed to shut up. One anonymous contributor was so intent on disrupting debate, he (or she) had to be moderated. Then the new diversion was a load of bull about the right to free speech. Anonymous contributions are welcome on this site, but if you make a claim or accusation, you had better be prepared to back it up with evidence, see it investigated, or at the very least put your name to it.
Now, as I type this and prepare to address the aforementioned mystery-pamphlet, another anonymous Miltonite has piped up and claimed to have received this same literature outlining surgery details. So that's three people, all of them stolid supporters of Anne Milton, and all recipients of this same mysterious pamphlet. That they refuse to show me.
I'd very much like to see a copy of this pamphlet and/or learn more about where it was distributed, as circumstances would suggest that they were delivered only to members of the Conservative Party and/or members of Guildford Conservatives.
If this is the case, then the MP who pledged to serve *all* of Guildford has just been caught out giving her Tory supporters preferential treatment on advice surgeries.
I've seen a few different versions of the local Tory newsletter 'Local Issues', and they do mention surgeries. You can also see another circular sent to some residents of Bramley here, and yes, this also contains the following message: Anne holds regular surgeries. To make an appointment please call 01483 300330.
No dates, no details... but enough, you may argue, to be informed enough to ask about dates and locations. (*If* you were lucky enough to receive this and/or if you've signed up for the Guildford Conservatives. But you *definitely* will have received these details if you were a happy recipient of the former, which is a Guildford Conservatives newsletter.)
None of these anonymous contributors seem willing to confirm it, but it would certainly appear that one of these items this is the literature they're referring to.
And when the implications of what they'd inadvertently revealed hit them - that's when the anonymous Miltonites went well and truly batshit. It was Diversion City.
They ducked, they dived, they questioned my sanity and called this a hate campaign... before finally settling on the suggestion that perhaps Anne was putting out literature about surgery details region by region, and they just haven't reached letterboxes in my area yet. Unless, of course, you've signed up for the Guildford Conservatives.
They even suggested that I wasn't doing my part because I failed to publish those details here on this website (when Anne has clearly published them on her website somewhere in the back pages stashed inside a range of PDF files).
I can do better than that, folks... but first I'd like to point out that when I called Anne Milton's office on Monday and requested future surgery dates, only one was available (if you want to book an appointment for this date, please call 01483 300330):
12th of August at Sutherland Memorial Hall
I was assured that no further dates would be set until Anne came back from holiday.
So, if a pamphlet arrives on my doorstep outlining these dates:
Surgeries are arranged by appointment through Anne Milton's office in Guildford. To book an appointment at one of Annes surgeries please call 01483 300330 or email firstname.lastname@example.org Anne's next Surgeries are: 8th July - Bramley Village Hall, Hall Road, Bramley. - (17.15 - 19.00) 15th July - Guildford Conservative Association, 15 London Road, Guildford. GU1 2AA (09.00 - 11.00) 22nd July - Guildford Borough Council Offices, Meillmead - (16.00 - 18.00)
... then it's a bit sodding late, because it's now the 27th of July and my flux capacitor is in the shop for repairs.
If a pamphlet magically arrives with new dates in the next week/month, then it's the A281 all over again. Anne Milton will have promised, suggested, claimed or provided a certain level of service before the election, and then failed to deliver the same after she was elected... until she was shamed into doing so.
In my view, Milton has tried to bluff her way through and minimise her workload by simply reducing the number of people who were aware of surgeries being held in their area at a suitable time/date. Unless of course, they're members of Guildford Conservatives, in which case they've had a fair shot of finding out the details for themselves.
Now, onto me doing my bit.... here's my draft for a poster promoting the only available date we have at the moment:
If anyone from Anne's office wishes me to revise the design or content before publication and distribution, then they have but to ask. Of course, I could simply publish it here and claim that this offer was in the public domain, but I'll do the polite thing and email them directly.
If they fail to get back to me within 3 days, then I'll have to assume that we're good to go. Unless one of Anne Milton's supporters (sorry, best make that 'independent observers') wishes to have a say. In which case, they will need to make their requests for revision directly via email. For security reasons, natch.