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Activism

Here’s how you can write to your MP and what it can achieve

Ever wanted to write to your MP? Here’s how to exercise your parliamentary rights and make your feelings known.

In the most recent government scandal, dubbed Partygate for the sheer number of parties and gatherings held in government offices during Covid-19 lockdowns, many MPs and organisations have encouraged the public to write to their MPs to express their anger and frustration with the sitting Conservative government, namely our prime minister, Boris Johnson.

This week, the Metropolitan Police issued its latest round of fines and it was revealed that Boris Johnson, his partner Carrie Johnson, and Chancellor Rishi Sunak were amongst those that had received fixed penalty notices for hosting or attending parties during lockdowns in 2020.

Opposition leaders Keir Starmer and Nicola Sturgeon have called on the prime minister and the chancellor to resign from their positions in government, with Starmer saying “Boris Johnson and Rishi Sunak have broken the law and repeatedly lied to the British public. They must both resign.”

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However, both Johnson and Sunak don’t seem to be handing in their resignations any time soon, even though new polling by Savanta ComRes revealed that 61 per cent of the public said that Boris Johnson should resign, with only 10 per cent believing he actually will.

A petition has already been circulating online calling for the prime minister to do the honourable thing and hand in the keys to Number 10. But you can also exercise your power as a constituent and get in touch with your local MP to voice your concerns. And here’s how.

Who is your MP? 

The first point of call is figuring out who your local MP is, so you know where to direct your letter. You can find your MP on the parliamentary directory by typing in a name, location or postcode. You can also use the WriteToThem online tool which locates your MP using your postcode and lets you write and send your letter on the same platform.

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There’s also the TheyWorkForYou online tool, which is similar in that it finds your local MP using your postcode but also shows more about your MP’s voting record in Parliament.

How to write to your MP

And now we move on to the main event, writing the letter itself. There are no official rules when it comes to what you can or can’t include in a letter to your MP, but there are some things you can do to ensure that your letter is both read and receives a response.

Include your name and address

Each MP represents a specific local area so they will want to make sure that the person writing to them is within their constituency and, therefore, the letter-writer’s representative in Parliament. Including your name and address will confirm to your MP from the get go that you’re one of their constituents and they have a responsibility to listen to your concerns.

Be personal and polite

You may have come across a number of letter-writing campaigns that include a letter template people can use to write to their MPs. As much as this can have a positive effect in making letters both accessible and a collective effort, it can also sometimes have a negative impact. A mass of people writing the same letter word-for-word may lead letters to be flagged by systems as junk so your MP won’t receive or read it.

That’s why it’s always best to either write your own letter or, if you are using a letter template, to personalise it with your own words and concerns. It could also make your letter more memorable and more likely to lead to your MP taking some form of action.

It’s also worth mentioning that including expletives, insults or abuse in your letter will probably not get you a response.

Include an actionable point

This may not always be possible but if you can, tell your MP what you want them to do about the issue or concern you’ve raised. The last section will be laying out what your MP can do but including an actionable point may mean they’re more likely to refer your issue to the relevant department or table a question in parliament. 

Stay on message

Your letter should be no more than two pages maximum otherwise your MP may either lose interest or be constrained by time if they’re having to sit through multiple pages per letter they receive from their constituents. Keeping it brief and concise is essential, ensuring that you’re laying out your concerns or your personal story, and ending with what action you want your MP to take on your behalf.

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What can writing to your MP actually do?

Your MP has a responsibility to you as a constituent to represent you and your concerns. That’s what they’re elected to do, even if your MP is of a different political leaning to you.

Writing a letter to your MP can lead to a range of actions being taken. MPs have the power to table questions to the relevant government minister or department, even if they don’t necessarily agree with your question. For example, if your issue is related to immigration, then your MP can table a question with the home secretary or the Home Office.

Your MP can also contact specific ministers directly with your concerns.

You can also request your MP to speak at an event or pledge their support to a campaign in relation to your issue or concern, but this is at their individual discretion.

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