Everything about emailing is more hurried than traditional written documents. Hunched over the keyboard most of us seem to take less care with the contents of an email than if we were writing a more formal letter. As soon as they are written they can be sent – whereas there’s normally some time between a letter being written and it entering the postal system. That can be just enough time to realise that the letter needs a little softening or its contents communicated by phone or face-to-face. Once an explosive email has been sent it couldn’t be easier for its recipients to forward it to others.
Desmond Swayne MP must be pondering the dangers of email as he reads The Sunday Times this morning. Isabel Oakeshott has got hold of emails from Mr Swayne, David Cameron’s Parliamentary Private Secretary, and they contain some embarassing observations…
- Mr Swayne writes that Francis Maude is "not yet trusted by the parliamentary party";
- Theresa May is "neither liked nor trusted across the party";
- Roger Gale MP is dubbed "Mr Angry";
- The Industry and Parliament Trust are described as "a bunch of boring colleagues with nothing better to do";
- William Hague is accused of "wobbling" on the EPP issue.
Mr Swayne is performing the job of any good PPS – informing his boss of parliamentary opinion – but was it wise to put this into an email? He clearly understands the danger of leaking. In one email he writes "Something dreadful happened to me in Manchester but I cannot put it on paper. I will tell you later." I wonder what it was?
This is not the first time that an email has leaked from the leader’s office. ConservativeHome was passed an email from Mr Cameron’s chief of staff which recorded the ambition for 20 of the first 35 parliamentary selections to adopt women candidates.