Leaked email reveals Robinson is still raging over expenses criticism…

AFTER the exhibition of control freakery in his joint letter to the Belfast Telegraph owner and verbal tirade at the Beeb’s Martina Purdy, you might think the First Minister would realise that losing one’s cool is not particularly statesman-like. You might also have realised that not all correspondence is private.

But in this email to a constituent (copied below the fold), Peter Robinson has perhaps surpassed himself, launching into a rambling rant that smacks of, well, someone who’s letting criticism get to him. Reading between the lines, I have little doubt that the constituent is not a huge fan of Robbo. Indeed, the quote in Robinson’s email from the original inquiry points to a constituent who may have been somewhat cheeky. Nevertheless, the tone, length and detail of the FM’s response – which contains some fair points, mostly lost in the invective – indicates someone who is taking recent criticism very personally.

There are ways to deal with such inquiries, but this isn’t it. Some politicians may not have replied at all; others merely would have acknowledged receipt. But Robinson feels the need to defend his record at considerable length and attack the Press even more, despite this (according to his own response) being only the second complaint about his expenses. You don’t need a degree in psychology to see what this email reveals. And as the constituent was clearly not a fan, then replying in such a way – knowing it would enter the public domain – is naïve for such an experienced player as Robinson.

Hectoring, sarcasm and bullying may have worked on the media in the past, but the days of such deference are gone. And in the blogosphere, they may never have actually existed.> __________________
> From: Rebekah Robinson
> Sent: 29 April 2009 10:45
> To:
> Subject: Re: Your email to Peter Robinson MP MLA
> I have been asked to pass on the following from The Rt Hon Peter
> Robinson MP MLA:
> I note the comments in your email. It might be better to look at
> the facts rather than repeating the nonsense in the press. Do you
> believe that an elected representative should be available to those
> who elect him/her?
> Should constituents be able to contact their MP when in need?
> Parliament believes they should and if you agree then an office is
> necessary and so is staffing. Parliament has set the level for this
> function and I note that my wife and I claimed less than any other
> Northern Ireland MP.
> Why do you add my wife’s salary and expenses to mine. Is this a
> sexist suggestion that my wife should not be an MP because I am an
> MP or the equally ludicrous suggestion that she should earn less and
> spend less in serving her constituents because she is married to an
> MP. As for the preposterous proposition that somehow the expenses
> of my wife for running Strangford should be added to mine for
> running East Belfast – are the people of East Belfast to travel to
> Ards or Comber to visit advice centres? These expenses are paid out
> directly by the House of Commons and are not sent to the MP. The
> suggestion that this equates to income for the MP is deliberate
> deceit.
> So why do you add the cost of running constituency offices to our
> income?
> In no other area of life would you do so. Do you suggest that the
> cost of running a doctor’s surgery including staff should be equated
> to the doctor’s income? To do so for MP’s is mischievous and
> dishonest. I suspect that the newspaper editors who for newspaper
> sales like lurid headline, no matter how fraudulent, do not add the
> salaries of their secretaries and assistants or the costs of renting
> offices, heating and lighting etc along with their own salary when
> talking about their income but hypocritically they do so when
> writing about MPs.
> I intend to continue to provide the people of East Belfast with the
> best services that I can in spite of the rubbish in the newspapers.
> I am glad that only two people have written to me about this issue.
> It gives me encouragement that so few are fooled into believing the
> inaccurate trash in some papers.
> There were three other issues raised in some reports which I will
> also take the opportunity to comment upon even though you did not
> raise them (but in case you read them). Firstly it was suggested
> that someone who is an MP should not be an Assembly Member or
> Councillor. In principal this is a sensible position to adopt. My
> only caveat is that it was felt essential by all the political
> parties that the most experienced politicians should be in the
> Assembly in its early years to assist in bedding down the
> institutions.
> I expect that this dual mandate position will be phased out by all the
> parties as the Assembly stabilises. Some time ago all the political
> parties committed themselves in an Assembly Committee to this course
> of action. I can assure you that working 16 hour days to carry out
> all the work needing to be done is not something I want to long
> continue.
> The other issue related to the employment of family members by
> elected representatives. I make no apology for employing my own
> family and those who are the family of friends. I have been an
> elected representative for more than thirty years and have worked
> through the conflict that our society has faced. Those who work in
> my office know where I am and when I will attend meetings and
> events. I am not prepared to employ by open competition.
> My life depends on those who I have around me but even if it were
> not so there are distinct advantages in employing those who are
> completely loyal and in tune with the position I adopt. The
> critical requirement here is that the people employed are capable of
> doing the job and actually give the time to do it. On both of these
> counts I am satisfied I have the right people working for me. I
> only add that when my daughter carried a parcel bomb with ball-
> bearings attached to the explosives out of my office I didn’t see
> anyone queuing up for her job and when my son opened a letter bomb
> at my home there was nobody pushing him out of the way to take over.
> References have been made to the Second Home Allowance. My home is
> in Northern Ireland and when I am staying in London clearly I need
> suitable accommodation. I have no problem what scheme the House of
> Commons adopts for the payment of this accommodation. I shall
> continue to operate within the rules. As far as the actual Second
> Home costs of staying in London are concerned it is apportioned
> between my wife and myself.
> I am more than happy that we have transparency in how elected
> representatives are remunerated but I believe you and I both have a
> right to expect honest reporting of the facts.
> When I entered politics I took a reduction in salary in order to
> serve my community. I have twice been offered employment in the
> private sector at salaries significantly more attractive than that
> which I presently receive for a job that has required a much greater
> sacrifice in time and stress. I do the job I do because I am in
> politics because of conviction. You may not share my views but I am
> in politics to serve, to the best of my ability, and have never once
> put remuneration before duty. My family has sacrificed more than
> you and others will ever know and I deeply resent the suggestion
> that money has been the motivating factor.
> As for your comment, “I am not sure if you are aware but there is
> currently a recession on”. Perhaps next time you decide to look at
> the BBC web site you might look for the many meetings I have had
> with banks, energy companies, business and community organisations
> about the economic downturn.
> I have travelled the globe trying to encourage companies to come to
> Northern Ireland to bring jobs here and I have placed the recession
> on the agenda of every Executive meeting. Recently I chaired the
> first meeting of the Cross Sector Advisory Forum which is bringing
> forward recommendations as to how we can best take Northern Ireland
> through the downturn. Yes, I am aware of the recession and I have
> and intend to continue to do all that I can to deal with its impact
> on those I serve.
> Yours sincerely
> Peter Robinson
> I trust this is satisfactory.
> Best wishes
> Ms Rebekah Robinson
> Office Manager & Private Secretary to
> The Rt Hon Peter Robinson MP MLA
> Strandtown Hall, 96 Belmont Avenue, Belfast, BT4 3DE
> Tel: 028 90 473111 ~ Fax: 028 90 471797
> Email: bekarobinson@dup.org.uk

  • nineteensixtyseven

    Oh dear! Doesn’t Robbo have better things to do with his time?

  • My arse

    As someone with no sympathy for unionists of any persuasion I don’t see how this email is at all noteworthy – save for Robinson’s expert demolition of the petty ‘arguments’ produced by this wind-up merchant: [i]I am not sure if you are aware but there is currently a recession on[/i] – what an idiot.

  • “launching into a rambling rant”

    BG, I read the email as a detailed transparent response to an email from a member of the public, possibly of the mainstream media 😉

    I met Peter a few months ago at a ceremony in Mosside, Co Antrim (North). One revealing and humorous comment dealt with the difficulties of getting information out of civil servants. My friends and I have experienced similar problems whilst covering the Rathlin ferry saga!

    “Hectoring, sarcasm and bullying”

    Awful, isn’t it? I do it all the time 😉

  • Archie Purple

    Ball not Man…but can you miss the Man, when [text removed – mods] Robinson takes the time out of his ‘busy schedule’ to write this diatribe? Surely, the question is, Is Robinson, the control freak, fit for the position of First Minister? May I suggest that he isn’t.

  • Mick Fealty

    I’m be posting some of my own thoughts on this and the expenses row the big Westminister story over at the Daily Telegraph this morning, but can we get on thing straight, Mr Robinson was clearly making a direct response to the letter. Let’s give him some credit for that. And 2, I don’t imagine all of it was fresh, some will have been boilerplate text.

    The only question I have about it is one of tone. But more on that later.

    My Arse:

    As you well know, this is not a unionist/nationalist issue. But I would be interested to hear from you how you think the FM expertly demolished the arguments in the letter?

    I mean that seriously! These things are better said out loud than implied.

  • People criticise politican

    Politician responds to criticism

    People criticise politician for responding to criticism

    key board warriors….

  • Zoon Politikon

    It was rich of the first minister to blame the Tory spin machine for his woes in his previous press briefings when he was the master spin doctor for the DUP while its deputy even if it did prove to be false.
    Also being one who knows how the DUP works he is inviting the other to say something that will bring forth the fear of litigation when he suggests the other is being sexist: in fact it is he who is being sexist for he brings it up. The fact is as a family unit it is only right that all monies are counted together for surely any monies from second homes’ allowances that are to be published this summer shall be more entertaining in this rescission. It would be interesting if the jobs that their children allegedly have were advertised in a lawful manner but then living through interesting times you can not blame public representatives putting blood and trust first.

    MP, MLA First Minister of Northern Ireland
    MP, Health, Social Services and Public Safety Statutory Committee MLA Chair & Councillor

    None of the above is of course unlawful and of course the DUP have pledged to cull duel mandates (probabaly when they are made to do it by law) but of course it do as I say not as I do as ethics is but a one way street with this party.

  • blinding

    It may be a worry to the supporters of a politician when it can be seen how easily he falls into the trap of being wound up.

    A certain Mr Brown may be another example of this.

  • Anon

    I find that the most satisfying way to deal with abusively hostile emails, ie the person has no interest in engaging with you but just writes to have a impolite rant, is to send back an email that looks like it has been automatically generated.

    Along the lines of;

    “Dear Sir/Madam, thank you for your recent communication. Its important to me that I hear your ideas on the development of our party and welcome the chance to meet with you soon.

    If I can be of further assistance please do not hesitate to contact me.

    Thank you for your continuing support”.

    They then send an irate and typically four lettered reponse in which case the original email goes out again 🙂

  • Glencoppagagh

    “when my daughter carried a parcel bomb with ball-
    bearings attached to the explosives out of my office”
    Does anyone know if this really happened? It would surely have been investigated by police.

    “I have twice been offered employment in the
    private sector at salaries significantly more attractive than that which I presently receive”
    That’s a bit implausible if only because there aren’t very many private sector jobs in NI that pay so much and doubtful if anyone would want a career politician to fill them.
    “I have travelled the globe trying to encourage companies to come to Northern Ireland”
    Details please.

  • Seceder

    Diatribe or Robbbo at his best and most honest?

    As for the demolishing arguments he has some points but so do the electorate when they see certain politicians holding three and four paid elected positions, employing their families regardless of ability or suitability and what i think is the most disgusting seeing politicians building property portfolios at the public’s expense.

    Westminster should build 650+ appropriate furnished appartments and MPs should be given one each. At the end of their term in office these should be returned. End off!

    As for all the work Robbo does, undoubtedly he’s busy but if he had only one job maybe he would have time to get a life.

  • Zoon Politikon

    Its interesting Glencoppagagh for the following reason:
    Any employee is at risk from parcel bombs – just ask the post office so the employer has a duty of care regardless of the family bond so the foundation of that arguement is without merit and if he is implying that the employer did have knowledge of what the parcel contained then it says a lot of that employer.

  • Gabriel

    I am lookin forward to reading the telegraph next week when they are listing all the expenses of every single MP and more is to be revealed of mr and mrs robbo apparently.No wonder he has had a nervous look on his face recently.

  • A Mathematician

    when I am staying in London clearly I need
    > suitable accommodation.

    Test word really

  • 6countyprod

    Robbo is just being Robbo. He has always taken things line by line and refuted them when they are not to his liking. In this instance he is defending his integrity, and in the process exposing and destroying the shallow arguments against him.

    If you are looking for a weak, wimpy wuss of a Unionist leader, you won’t get it in Robbo.

  • Zoon Politikon

    How about getting a statesman for our first minister instead of a majority Orange tribal leader?

  • Zoon Politikon


    This Web is getting influential. Let’s hope the BBC now takes note of other issues.

  • Driftwood

    Jeffrey Donaldson was on Nolan this morning claiming he gave up a much better paid job running his own business in order to “serve the public”. He droned on about working an 18 hour day etc etc. SHITE.
    Does ANYONE take these scam merchants remotely seriously?

  • righteousedward

    BLA BLA BLA….expenses…….BLA BLA….i’m a lazy journo…..BLA BLA

  • Seceder

    Jeffrey has claimed many things in his career and they have all remained that – Jeffrey’s claims.

    A bit like the rest of our politicians – talk is cheap.

    I wonder in these fraught financial times how many of our estate agent, financial advisor MLAs/MPs would survive in the real world?

    As each of them seem quiet happy to take their salaries, enjoy the perks, claim all their expenses and employ thier familes – not to many are queuing up to tackle the real world of work!

  • Scamallach

    I am surprised not only that he took the time to write this, but by the time he got it out of his system he STILL felt it was a good idea, and furthermore that his daughter didn’t suggest he sleep on it before sending it out. (Maybe he is not paying her to offer advice?!) This sort of angry outburst is not what you expect of someone holding such a senior political position…

  • ??


    How about getting a statesman for our first minister instead of a majority Orange tribal leader?
    Posted by Zoon Politikon on May 08, 2009 @ 12:09 PM

    yes like sir reg empey …snigger

  • Ben

    Peter and Iris, Nigel and Diane… where are Mrs. Adams and Mrs. McGuinness? Is it that the DUP is more progressive, or that they’re thinking that they better establish a new royal succession just in case? Paisley is out, all hail the new monarchs!
    – A humble Subject

  • Zoon Politikon

    No I mean a statesperson (sic) not a Mr Burn’s caricature ??!

  • GabrielCleary

    Sinn fein claiming £105,000 for their london apartment 🙂

  • loki

    Has Jeffrey Donaldson ever done a proper job? I was under the impression he’d always been a party apparatchik. Started working for Enoch Powell pretty much from school I thought?
    Robbo also implies that his children were working for him during the Troubles- mention of letter bombs and parcle bombs. I find this a bit misleading. His children can’t be much older than their 30s so he must have been using them as child labour???…

  • redhugh78

    He’s right tho.

  • Yoda

    is criticism email raging over leaked robinson
    reveals still expense