Briefing Page for your MP
How to achieve campaign impact with your MP
Lobbying your MP is one of the most effective ways to achieve our campaign goals and is a useful tactic across a wide range of issues. This short briefing is designed to outline what can be achieved by working with your local MP, and how you can go about ensuring that your MP effectively supports our campaign.
Here are the 3 easy steps:
- Enter your Postcode on this page https://www.writetothem.com
- Scroll down to see Your Member of Parliament and click their name
- Copy and paste the following text and try to personalise the email with an opening paragraph explaining your personal experience and why the campaign is important to you.
"I would like to ask you to become a member of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Mindfulness that is being created. If time is an issue I believe you can join the APPG as a nominal, not active member. The first inquiry is to look at Mindfulness in Education. As you can see from the Media and Research links on the following website, Mindfulness meditation has been shown to be of enormous benefit to children.
I look forward to your reply."
*** Always close your letter with the line 'I look forward to your reply, to ensure that your MP understands that you require a response.***
Done. You're a champion campaigner!
Thank you for making the effort to support our Mindfulness in Schools Campaign. This campaign will give millions of children a deeper and more fulfilling life experience as well as support each other's' intentions and practice.
How your MP can help you within Parliament
Your MP can also help by using a variety of methods within Parliament. These can help raise the profile in front of the public and press, draw the Government's attention to the issues and can serve to gain information which can be used to support your campaign aims. Some of the main ways that they can do this are:
Ask parliamentary questions
MPs can ask ministers oral and written questions in Parliament and the Welsh assemblies. As well as sometimes extracting useful information, this helps raise the profile of an issue. If you ask your MP to put down a particular question for you, be specific about the issue and the question. You can add at the end of your question, "and if the minister will make a statement" to elicit a more general position. Ask your MP to put down a written question, as the oral questions are drawn in a ballot – meaning you may wait months before your MP gets lucky.
Writing to ministers
If you think it is important that an issue is raised with the appropriate minister, you could ask your MP to take it up with him/her. This guarantees a reply signed (and therefore seen) by the minister, whereas a letter direct from you to the minister is more likely to be answered by a civil servant.
Tabling an Early Day Motion (EDM)
An EDM is a House of Commons resolution to which MPs can add their names to demonstrate support for the sentiments it expresses. Among other things, this gives a list of supportive MPs and shows the support a particular measure has.
Speaking at an adjournment debate
This is a debate with the relevant minister instigated by an MP. These are drawn out of a hat, but it usually takes no more than a few weeks at most before an MP is chosen. Most of those on local issues last half an hour, although longer adjournment debates are available. The MP speaks first, followed by the relevant minister. If you persuade your MP to hold an Adjournment Debate, suggest that a summary of what he/she intends to say is sent to the minister in advance. This makes it more likely that the minister will be briefed on the points the MP plans to raise.
The nuts and bolts of working with your MP
Finding your MP
First of all, find contact details for your MP. You can find them by:
- Contacting your local library or town hall
- Telephoning the House of Commons Information Office on 020 7219 4272
- Go to http://findyourmp.parliament.uk/
- Go to www.theyworkforyou.com
Campaign tip: Before you approach your MP there are several things that would be good to find out. Find out his/ her name, political party, surgery times and the issues that they are interested in. The more familiar you are with their interests and background, the more likely you are to be able to pitch your case in the most effective way.
Start your lobbying with a simple action, such a sending a letter. You may find that your MP is willing to support your campaign actively straight away, in which case – great! However, you may find you get a reply which states something similar to "Many people have supported this issue and I have taken it up with the Minister". Responses such as this which don't actually commit to any course of action should be viewed as encouragement to keep on writing, asking for their specific viewpoint; and if that doesn't work you can escalate your lobby.
The more your MP evades answering your questions or committing their support, the more you can increase the pressure – for example getting local school children to write letters or by involving the local media.
Campaign tip: Always close your letter with the line 'I look forward to your reply, to ensure that your MP understands that you require a response.
How your MP can help you locally
Firstly it's important to note that your MP can only help with matters for which Parliament or central government is responsible. If matters are the responsibility of local authorities or the local NHS, it's best to contact them first. However, an MP can influence local service providers and planners, so do not hesitate to ask them to do that.
If your MP is prepared to give you active support for your campaign they can help you locally by:
- Making a statement supporting your campaign
- Lending their names to an appeal for money, volunteers or materials
- Using their influence with the local authority
- Speaking at public meetings