As a young man living under the government of John Major I used to get very annoyed about a lot of things. I also got annoyed under other Tory governments, and also under Labour governments (Tony Blair’s Iraq War and the dodgy dossier).
It could be that I’m just always angry I guess. I hope not!
Thinking back, I first got angry about politics when Thatcher took my milk – but that’s another story. (Thatcher the Milk Snatcher – Google it, historians!)
But the idea of writing an actual letter to my MP, telling him what I’m annoyed about? That daunted me. Oh, God, the very notion of writing a letter to an important person like that! Me, a humble peasant, daring to address my political overlord in Westminster.
It all seemed so formal and official and serious. I mean, sure I cared about an issue, but did I care enough to sit down and write a letter, put it in an envelope, and post it somewhere important. Assuming I could even muster up the courage, how did I even find out who/where to address my letter? And what if they reply? Or what if they don’t reply? What then? All too scary. Forget it. So, I forgot it. (This was mostly in pre-internet days)
And that, ladies and gentlemen, is how the fuckers get away with it.
And that, ladies and gentlemen, is how the fuckers get away with it; not because we the people support their policies, but because we the people are too busy, or too scared, or simply don’t know how, to raise a voice against them.
Most MP’s go out of their way to avoid seeking such engagements with the people they represent. Let’s not make it easier for them to do so.
Forget about all the hassle of writing letters. It is all much easier now. I found out in 2016 that it was amazingly easy, and I want to share it with you now.
So, let’s imagine there’s an issue, be it local or national, which really bothers you. It could be lack of funding for your local hospital, or it could be Brexit, or it could be crime rates, or anything at all.
Write a couple of lines in an email and hit Send. That's it.
Right, you know what your issue is, (apparently other issues besides Brexit do come up), now you need only write one sentence about it, in an email and hit Send. That’s it. Nothing more. It doesn’t have to be a big deal, you don’t have to be scared of them, just write what concerns you and make them aware. You can find your MP’s email address here.
Remember: You pay their salary. They work for you. You employ them. Your MP is there to represent your interests in parliament, and was elected to do that job.
Now the bad news. You probably will not get a reply. Or, your may get an automated, standard reply. That’s OK. You did your part. You wrote to them, you made your voice heard. You used them. Now it will be on their conscience. Mission accomplished: your MP cannot truthfully state that nobody has expressed any concern to them about said issue. Your email might not get the issue raised at PMQ’s, but it will be there, in your MP’s mind, and they will know that at least one person in their constituency (you) is concerned about it.
Mission accomplished: your MP cannot truthfully state that nobody has expressed any concern to them.
I have written to my MP many times, about many issues, well OK mostly just Brexit, but as a constituent I feel it important to seek assurance that my interests are represented; I’ve asked him to identify the benefits of Brexit to our constituency, to say which businesses will benefit and how, specifically. I’ve challenged him to justify the breaking of international law, or to justify the proroguing of parliament. I challenged him on the Cummings debacle, demanded for the advisor to be sacked. And only last week, after 100,000 deaths were reached and blamed on poor decisions, I informed him that I, his constituent, want Boris Johnson to be sacked, for our safety’s sake. Of course, Boris Johnson won’t be sacked on the basis of my email. I realise that. But the point is this: He cannot claim nobody from his constituency wants him sacked. Because he got my email, and sent me an automated reply acknowledging it. Now, imagine if 10 or 100 or 1000 people wrote similar emails. The voice grows louder, and all through the proper channels of democratic representation.
That is democracy. That is the purpose of having MP’s; not to reign over us like arrogant Gods, but to serve our demands and stand accountable for the government’s mistakes. It is we, the people, who hold the power in a democracy. Our voices have been emboldened by technology and we should use that.
We no longer have the excuse of such worrisome efforts of writing a letter on posh papyrus using quill and ink, sealing it with wax before handing it to a messanger to take to London on a horse and cart.
It is we, the people, who hold the power.
All of the emails I wrote took no more than 5 minutes. Once I had my MPs email address, it became easy. And now, it’s a habitual thing: Everytime something political irks me (and this happens a lot), I fire off a quick email. And if I become annoyed by lack of response, I then fire off another email; to my local paper, to try and get my voice heard in their letters page. (I have achieved this dozens of times now).
On one occasion there was a chorus of people writing to my MP about a Tory Councillor who used racist language. We bombarded the MP. The Councillor was duly sacked. It worked.
So please don’t tweet about your annoyances, don’t copy and paste memes on Facebook. Hell, don’t even rant on WordPress. Instead, go here, find your MP, and write them an email. Takes 5 minutes, and you will feel better for it, trust me. It doesn’t have to be eloquent, long, or formal. The shorter the better.
Important: Always include your postal address and postcode at the end, otherwise he/she won’t beleive you’re a real constituent of theirs, and will delete the email.
They must be told.
That fire in your belly needs to be controlled, directed, aimed properly. Don’t waste it. Use it to make a difference. Use the democratic tools we have been given. The powers that be hope we forget these tools exist, that we quietly go about our lives with the occasional tut or moan. But those days are gone. Tell me, what’s annoying you the most, right now, about the UK, or about your town’s local politics? Write it down, just a line or two. Then send it to your MP. See how it feels.
They must be told.
Still, if you don’t like the idea of contacting your MP, you can always scream at the telly and blast out angry tweets instead. But from experience I can tell you that doesn’t have the same effect. Or any effect. It just adds to your anger.
- Be polite. Don’t be abusive or use swear words. You are approaching a parliamentary representative, and no matter how annoyed you are, good manners give you an edge.
- Be brief. Don’t write an essay. Make a simple, straightforward point. You are trying to get something into their head, so cut to the chase.
- Include your name, address and postcode. This proves you are a genuine constituent. If you miss this out, your email shall likely be deleted by their spam filter.
- Be prepared to be ignored. If you don’t recieve a reply within a week or two, that’s OK. Just assure yourself that you raised the point and they saw it. If you are really still annoyed, then write to your local press, noting that you were ignored by your MP.
It is important to remember that your goal in writing to your MP is simply to be satisfied in your own conscience that you’ve raised your issue with them. Don’t expect change directly because of your email, in fact don’t even expect a proper reply – but do expect a good feeling knowing you’ve at least made them aware of your concern. (Compare this to the empty feeling of ranting on Twitter or Facebook, or shouting at the telly).
And then think of your voice among all the others who raised similar concerns, in similar ways. They know, damn them. They know.
Think of the MP’s mind as an empty filing cabinet, an empty drawer marked ‘Concerns of constituents’, and it’s your job to fill that drawer up, to make them earn their keep, to strip them of the excuse that nobody ever mentioned it to them.