Lynne Featherstone

MP for Hornsey and Wood Green

my blog
Lynne's Parliament and Haringey Diary, established 2003

Delivery, canvassing, stuffing…

What can I tell you? Delivery, canvassing, stuffing … But one funny thing happened to my colleague David Schmitz who is standing as a candidate in Harringay ward (the Ladder area of Haringey). He was out delivering leaflets and came across a group of cross residents on the pavement waiting for the local Labour councillor to turn up to do his surgery. But no show! So David did an impromptu surgery of his own – right there, right then!

The Daily Mirror rang me whilst I was out delivering to follow up on my Parliamentary Question (PQ) about an email that my researcher had received. It purported to warn women about a new drug being used by rapists to spike girls drinks. This drug – Progesterex – would not only make them unable to remember anything or resist – it would also sterilise them. So – my PQ to the Minister Paul Goggins was to ask about the number of date rape cases brought over the last twelve months and what assessment he had made of the drug’s use in cases of date rape.

Paul Goggins’ answer was pretty weak. Firstly he said they don’t collect statistics on date rape centrally. Well they should – clearly. How else can we be sure we know whether it is a growing problem or not? Secondly he said that the drug doesn’t exist – but rather is the subject of a hoax email. But – the Home Office doesn’t seem worried by women being scared by a hoax email and doesn’t apparently believe there is a need to look into who is the originator of such a hoax.

It would seem that the prevailing attitude of the Home Office is simply to not deal with things or care about things. Probably explains why, even though informed that foreign nationals were being released without consideration for deportation, nothing was done.

Bad attitudes from top carry right through whole department.

Tue 2 May 2006
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Comments

  1. Anonymous says:

    Don’t all of us have a responsibility to question what we hear and read? As soon as I received this email I did not believe it – if it were true, I’m sure that the media would have run it as a massive story. I refuse to buy into internet scare stories without researching them. They are always false. By failing to research the subject before bringing it into Parliament you played into the hands of the idiots who started this pathetic message. Chain emails are an abuse of the internet. They can be used to transmit viruses & spread misinformation. In my eyes, this is one issue here.

    The appalling lack of convictions for rape in this country is a far more serious issue, & is separate from the propogation of malicious chain emails.

  2. Lynne says:

    Although you say that if it were true there would have been media coverage of it, actually stories often “break” on the internet before they get much mainstream media coverage. So something being on the internet but not getting massive coverage elsewhere doesn’t mean you can assume it’s not true.

    Though in this case obviously the email was a hoax … but I’d rather err on the side of following up a query from someone by asking one question that need not have been asked than to have missed something that did need to be pursued.

    But live and learn etc too!

  3. Anonymous says:

    “But – the Home Office doesn’t seem worried by women being scared by a hoax email and doesn’t apparently believe there is a need to look into who is the originator of such a hoax.”

    Firstly, I reckon that the Home Office would trust women to have the sense to at least do a wee bit of research on what’s apparently going to destroy their lives; a simple google reveals that the drug is fake.

    Secondly, how exactly do you find out who the originator of a chain letter/email is? I’d love to know.

  4. BillyB says:

    Anonymous – I think you’re wrong to say the Home Office should just expect people to do their own research. If we were all always that wise no hoaxes would ever work! The point is to help protect us from our own mistakes and misjudgements.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Regardless to who started it, where it came from, weather it is true or not!! It is good to be made aware that you need to take responsibility of YOUR OWN actions, which means have your drink with you at all times, go out in a group and never be on your own, and never put too much trust into a stranger no matter how nich they are.
    Imagnie if the government spent all their time investigating hoax emails???

  6. Anonymous says:

    Man I hope you don’t get re-elected. Using this false issue to score points and then not having the decency to say that you made a mistake and should have researched it better afterwards! What a waste of public money and parliament time!

  7. Alexis says:

    “It would seem that the prevailing attitude of the Home Office is simply to not deal with things or care about things.”

    It is nearly impossible to discover the author of chain emails. There are thousands of chain emails whose authors are still unknown. Also, it is impossible that British citizens haven’t received hundreds of similar emails. Has Parliament made convictions regarding who the author of those letters were? (The answer: less than a dozen authors of these sorts of email were found.)

    Perhaps the real fault lies with you, Lynne. See, a few minutes after I received this letter from my mother, I decided to google the facts for myself. Of the first ten suggested sites for the topic of “Progesterex,” nine sites indicated that the emails were a hoax (included several newspapers/news sites and one myth debunking site). Does the Home Office really need to waste time pointing out a fact that the generally-informed population already knows?

  8. Anonymous says:

    I have been taken in by hoaxes in the past. All you smug commenters who think everyone should always be able to see through them – I hope you’re never taken in and you never want any help or sympathy if you are. Good for you if you are always right and always know what is happening. For the rest of us humans the government and others should be doing things to help stop mistakes happening.

  9. Anonymous says:

    Sorry Lynne, but I think you got hinned there by not doing a bit of research before wasting the Home Office’s time, made worse by not being a little contrite about it afterwards. Despite your apparent concerns for statistics, the only reason they were manifest was your foaming at the mouth panic in response to a typical email hoax. The bans imo. I wouldn’t vote for you.

  10. Anonymous says:

    You need to sack your researcher. Just googling the name of the drug will tell you that it’s fake.
    bercome an hero.

  11. Anonymous says:

    So the Home Office is wrong to dismiss issues without more research, but it’s right for you to waste Parliament’s time with an internet chain letter without doing any research?

    I hope not all of your professional actions are so cheap

  12. Anonymous says:

    Like someone said I hope all you being so clever are never fooled by a hoax. You wont be deserving of any sympathy then!!!! Anyway I think Home Office should be collecting better stats and taking action. Why let them off the hook?

  13. Jenny says:

    Anonymous abouve (one of many!) – you attack Lynne for not being contrite though if you read her comment she does say “But live and learn etc too!”. There’s a rather unpleaseant (male?) tone to a lot of these comments about oh look at me I’m so clever, I know it is a rubbish story.

  14. Magne Haagen says:

    You fall victim to an e-mail hoax that could easily be spotted by googling “Progesterex” (which I guess is the “drug” mentioned in the e-mail).

    Then you submit a question to the home minister about this e-mail. (again, without spotting the hoax).

    And finally, when you are made aware that you are incapable of doing basic research (googling), and have made a fool of yourself, you redefine the problem to the home office not being worried about women getting scared by hoax emails.

    That is no less than amazing.

  15. Jenny says:

    I smiled seeing that my comment about the tone of men making comments was follwed by another male comment!

    I also thought perhaps the question was put in by a member of staff? It could then be right for an MP to stand by the member of staff in public even if they made a mistake.

  16. Annette says:

    This smacks (excuse the pun) of the old Brass Eye episode where Chris Morris invented the fake drug “Cake” and the Tory MP David Amess asked a question in Parliament about it. It shows how gullible, lazy and badly informed our leaders are. Featherstone should be deeply ashamed of herself, I wouldn’t let someone like this run my outside tap, let alone a constituency. Our system is rotten to the core – people wake up before it’s too late!

  17. David says:

    There's no shame in you asking the question — you're an elected representative, not a drugs expert. But you make yourself look bad by trying to shift blame onto the Home Office — what a waste of public money it would be, trying to track down an email hoaxer in some foreign country, beyond the reach of our laws. Thanks,

  18. Just want to say what a great blog you got here!I’ve been around for quite a lot of time, but finally decided to show my appreciation of your work!

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