THE MP LETTER CAMPAIGN
Send your MP’s response to Diane
(preferably: email/text, jpg/png, pdf)
The only people in Britain who can change the law are MPs. They are, therefore, our most important audience. FAB has been at the forefront of the UK campaign to make a restriction on firework use by the general public a political issue. The way to support us is by writing to your MP. Every letter and email counts.
Progress comes from engaging with the system and advancing what is an overwhelmingly powerful argument with patience and determination.
Writing To Your MP
Many MPs gauge public opinion by the number of letters and emails they receive on a particular subject, so writing to them is important.
You can either e-mail your MP or write by regular mail. Some people think a letter is more likely to get a response, but there’s probably no truth in that. However, most MPs will reply by post.
You can write to your MP as often as you like, but if you regularly bombard him or her with irate e-mails, the chances are you will be ignored.
How Do I Contact My MP?
To find out who your MP is and to email go to writetothem.com and enter your postcode into the box. The click on MP..
For snail mail, which is better, the postal address is:
(Name of MP, e.g. George Osborne MP)
House of Commons, London, SW1A 0AA
If you wish to obtain any other specific details about your MP, then you can contact their local surgeries or their secretaries by calling the House of Commons Switchboard on 0207 219 3000 and asking to be put through to their office.
Whether you write by post or e-mail, always include at the head of your letter or e-mail:
Your full name and address, including post code (very important).
If you don’t include your full address, your letter will be ignored, as MPs are only obliged to respond to their own constituents.
What To Include In The Letter
Keep it short. The basic letter should be no more than one side of A4, although you can include additional information such as photocopies or scans of documents etc.
A carefully considered letter is far more effective, and will attract greater support, than an intense, ill-thought out tirade. Don’t make more than one, or perhaps at most two key points and keep your argument factual, if possible backing it up it with references to research documents, newspaper reports etc.
It’s always good advice to plan your letter or email carefully, to leave it for a few hours and then to read it again before posting. That way you can be sure of making the points you intended to make. Ensure you include your full name and address.
It is always important that you ask your MP something concrete; for example ask them whether they would support moves to reform current firework laws, or you could just ask them to clarify their position and give reasons for it.
If the issue you are raising is of particular relevance to you, then ensure you highlight your personal interest because your MP is more likely to pay greater attention it.
If you have a question for a minister, the convention is that you write to your MP and ask him or her to pass your letter or e-mail onto the minister on your behalf. You don’t need to know the minister’s name, just their correct title.
The golden rules when writing to your MP is to include contact details, be formal but polite, keep it short, make one or at most two points and ask a direct question to discover his or her attitude to the issue at hand.
Your MP splits their time between their constituency office, and their parliamentary office where they are required to attend debates and meetings in the House of Commons.
The FAB Guide To Lobbying MPs
Lobbying is the process of attempting to influence the decisions made by officials in the government. As a member of the public, the best mechanism you have to do this is through the use of your local MP. If you don’t attempt to inform and influence the decision making process then your concerns won’t be heard or considered. Don’t leave it to someone else to speak up for you, they might not exist!
Whether or not you voted for your local MP, or even agree with their political views, you can lobby them to gain their help with your campaign. They are able to submit parliamentary questions, write a letter to the relevant minister, or even arrange a meeting with the minister responsible for the issue of concern to you. Lobbying also enables you to force an MP to show where their allegiance lies on a particular subject.
Other than writing to them, you can lobby your MP in a number of ways: You can set up a meeting with them or use your local media by getting them to raise the issue or highlight a campaign, challenging your MP for a response.
Politicians are particularly keen to be seen engaging with young people, so if you are first-time voter, make that clear from the outset.
You can request a meeting with your MP at anytime. The easiest way, however, is to request an appointment during their ‘surgery’ hours. All MPs hold local surgeries – the dates, times and locations are advertised in advance, you can obtain this information from their own website or by contacting their offices directly.
Needless to say if you do get a meeting with your MP, make an effort to be clean and presentable. Be polite and have your case prepared in advance so you can make your argument clearly and concisely. Take copies of any supporting documents with you to give to him or her.
NB…. All constituency members are entitled to a free tour of the Houses of Parliament by their MP, by arrangement obviously! This is a good opportunity to raise any issues you might have. If you do, ensure that you have a side of A4 with all points clearly highlighted. In addition to this you can attend any debates in the house, and every week each MP has two tickets to PMQs, if you contact their office they can book you in for free.
Prime Ministers Questions.. (PMQs)
Another tool that we have at our disposal is a MPs ability to table or sign Early Day Motions. EDMs are good for publicising the views of individual MPs, drawing attention to a specific campaign or event; they can also be used to determine parliamentary support for a particular cause or point of view. Write to your MP and say ‘I wish for you to table an Early Day Motion on the following subject ……. for the following reasons……..” be sure to use a convincing argument! You can also ask them to sign and show support for an existing EDM that has already been tabled.
When you have sent your letter or contacted your MP please let us know, we keep a list of those MPs contacted. When you receive your reply, good bad or ugly.. Please remember to send all MP replies to Diane.
Thank you and good luck with your lobbying..