DeliveryDemon was more than slightly incensed to receive from the local MP a letter which delivered a blast of breathtaking cynicism with a nasty aftertaste of unsubtle manipulativeness.
There’s a proposal to resite the outpatient facility of a hospital in the area, currently based in a town with a population of 50,000. It’s not being moved to another nearby town with a population of 46,000. No, it’s being moved to a much smaller town, population 9,000. This for a service used by older people, disabled people, ill people, people who may be unable to drive. This in an area with limited public transport outside the main population centres. Nothing in the letter to say why the MP supports this particular move, just a statement that the hospital deems it to be best for patients. Knowing the quality of service delivered by this particular hospital, the DeliveryDemon thinks this very statement is a good reason to question the decision, but that’s another story.
Anyway, the letter delivers a couple of paragraphs of unsubstantiated benefit claims followed by a tirade about political bias with a claim that only one view can be the right one and a total absence of any explanation of why the balance of benefits would favour the MP’s preferred option. The text is littered with ‘what do you think?’ but guess what options are offered in the poll at the end. Choose between the good of the patient and political pressure. In other words, either you agree with the MP or you are in favour of evil, underhand politicking. No room for dissent there.
Let’s step back from the issue of the hospital and look at the intended payload of this communication. No doubt Phil Hope would like to present to the local planning committee an interpretation of poll results showing that, of those who voted, the majority were in favour of his preferred option. Well, it’s a convenient vehicle for those in favour of the proposal to cast a vote in support of him. It has been lent dubious credibility by being sent to all local voters, and worded in a way which makes it unlikely that anyone not already in favour will vote against it. I refer back to my earlier comment on breathtaking cynicism and unsubtle manipulativeness.
And what is the actual delivery payload when the reader thinks about the letter? Any or all of the following:
- Annoyance at an MP who thinks that voters are idiots who can be manipulated like this, and who thinks that it’s alright to do so
- Annoyance at the waste of taxpayers’ money and the creation of landfill fodder in the form of thousands of pages and envelopes of expensive House of Commons stationery
- Suspicion about the validity of the proposal
- Distrust of the letter’s signatory
- An inclination to question something which might otherwise have been of only passing interest.
This MP has made a massive mistake in ignoring the fact that successful delivery of a communication can only be measured in the context of the perception of the recipient. The implied message in his communication is completely at odds with what he intended. And that brings us to honesty. Successful delivery happens when deliverer and recipient have a shared view of what is to be delivered. Try and slip in something different from what you’re claiming to deliver and you’ll destroy the recipient’s trust. Honesty is the only basis for a strong relationship.