Social media is a fantastic tool for people to communicate with their MPs but also the other way round. The real benefit is when people see an issue in only black and white, and tweet or message you to say so, but that they are in fact complex issues with many shades of grey!
One classic example is the latest attack by local political opponents for my vote "against" a Labour amendment to the Finance Bill regarding the so-called "tampon tax". So I thought it would be helpful... to explain my position and now that of the Government's.
As background, they are neither a non-essential item, nor a luxury, yet women's sanitary products are current defined as such under EU tax rules. In my view, women shouldn't be taxed for a natural bodily function and this issue was raised by many colleagues, both male and female, in the last Parliament but was left unresolved. Thanks to a recent petition it has again come on to the political agenda, despite personally not receiving a single email on the matter, and myself and others indicated our support in the run up to the debate on Monday (for those that are not au fait with how it works, this includes a lot of conversations with whips and ministers).
Thanks to this pressure the Government listened to concerns and agreed to raise it with the European Commission. It was unfortunate that this policy change was not recognised by the opposition and a vote was called, dividing us into two crude camps of for and against when in fact we are all on the same side!
As the founding lady of the campaign said:
"...today's outcome can still be chalked up as a success. This is the first time the Government has made a commitment to ending sanitary tax and it's something us campaigners won't forget".
So I hope that reassures those who simply look at the voting record, being circulated by opponents to score points, that I and other female (and male) colleagues have been working on this issue for some time and welcome the strong commitment from the Minister to do something about this.
Oh and if you don't value what I say on this, then please read the full article from Laura Coryton, the leading campaigner on this: