Email Management

Rant: Ed Miliband and Harriet Harman keep emailing me

‘Yes? No?’ asks Harriet Harman in the subject line of the email she sends me, making me wonder whether the deputy leader of the Labour Party is checking we’re still on for lunch. Or does she need a definitive answer to the question of whether I’d like her to bring back 200 duty-free Marlboro from an impending ‘fact-finding mission’ to New York?

So what’s this all about? I read on.

“Hi Martin, Already, more than a quarter of a million people have taken our four-minute survey — and we'd like to hear from you, Martin!”

Oh so it’s not really a personal email then, despite the chummy tone. She’s overdoing the ‘Martins’ a bit and I’d usually swerve to avoid unnecessary exclamation marks. But in all honesty, I don’t mind that from this experienced politician and scion of the Left, whose relatives include various Longfords and Chamberlains, Lady Antonia Fraser and the late playwright Harold Pinter. After all, I’m solidly working-class too.

But here comes the meat of the matter:

“We really want you to have your say: I'm sure you have views about our country, our party, and British politics.”

That takes the wind out of my sails a little.

“It's quick and it's interesting.”

It might be quick but it’s unlikely to be interesting, I should caution you.

So what this is is a quite clever piece of CRM. Some weeks ago I signed up for one of those daft interweb things, this one promising to tell me how many Martin Veitchs will be registered to vote in the next election – not many, I can confirm, but then I sort of knew that anyway. This has put me onto Labour’s ‘ready and willing to be spammed’ list and I start to receive missives out of the blue from political types armed with subject lines that make it seem like we’re picking up on an old conversation. The leitmotifs are that ardent and repeated use of my name and a certain informality of style that suggests we go, oh, way back.

I don’t mind this too much and I can always hit ‘delete’ even after I’ve opened a message thinking it’s from some long lost school pal. But the sense of being a unitary research component and just a nut that links to a cog that is just part of a demographic machine in the vast factory of politicking, is slightly alienating. The French might say this provokes a sense of anomie. Others might think it Kafkaesque (or Kafkan as I once saw the alternative adjective). Me, I’m just feeling a sweaty sense of the inevitability that Ed Miliband and his busby hair are being saved up for the final day’s marketing with some new punchline that is a final kick in the ribs of this voter who already finds himself very sick indeed of the bland, overweening, preposterous election process. But I can take it: hell yes, I’m tough enough.


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Martin Veitch

Martin Veitch is Contributing Editor for IDG Connect

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