Regardless of what issue you want to lobby your MP on – taking a pledge to fight climate change, winning fair votes, or stopping Brexit, it can be quite an intimidating thing to do. So, here’s a quick guide on how to lobby your MP.
There are four clear ways to go about it: by email, telephone, post or in person at their surgery.
Writing to your MP does make a difference. They know that every person who writes represents others who feel the same but don’t write.
However, every way of contacting your MP other than visiting them in person is filtered out by their staff. To make sure your message gets heard, make an appointment to see your MP at their ‘surgery’, or ask for a meeting at their constituency office or in person.
To make sure your message gets heard, make an appointment to see your MP in person (it’s their job to meet with you).
The following guide gives you everything you need to know to prepare for a meeting.
1. Your Personal Story
- Make it personal and make it local. If you’re not there to talk about an explicit constituency problem – like benefits – but rather a national issue you’re campaigning on – such as air pollution, proportional representation or Brexit – try your best to connect it with a local or personal issue. Consider, for example, filing a Freedom of Information request to your local authority, to learn more about how this issue is affecting your area. Find out how to do so here.
- See your goal as communicating to your MP that you and many others like you in your area care deeply about the issue at hand. Perhaps you even have a personal experience you want to share.
2. Research is King
- Before your meeting, it’s important to understand who your MP is: which party are they from, what their voting record looks like, what they’ve tweeted about, what committees they sit on, etc.
- You can find a summary of how your MP voted on key issues on www.theyworkforyou.com. For a comprehensive view of how your MP voted on specific issues, go to www.publicwhip.org.uk.
- It’s also important to get a grasp of the key facts, arguments and messaging you want to get across about the issue you want to discuss.
- Make sure you ask them what you want them to do after the meeting (e.g. sign motion, table a parliamentary question, write to the minister), and follow up in due course if you hear nothing back.
3. Booking an appointment
- MPs hold regular surgeries to meet constituents, usually on Fridays. Some MPs hold drop-in sessions, whilst with others you need to book an appointment.
- To book an appointment it’s best to phone up their constituency office. You can find your MPs contact details here or simply by doing a Google search.
- You may need to explain what you want to discuss with your MP to help them come to your meeting prepared: if you’ve come to talk about a national issue that isn’t directly relevant to their constituency work, try to connect the issue with a local or personal angle.
Image credit: Houses of Parliament by Long Road Photography