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Page history last edited by starkfamily1@... 14 years, 5 months ago

Writing to Your MP


Many people are writing to their MPs for the first time because of attacks on home education freedoms and family integrity. Others may be more seasoned. In any case, insider tips can only be helpful and for that reason we invite you to read the following, contributed by Sue, a home educator who has worked for an MP:



"Most MPs are very busy.  An office assistant will spend most of the morning opening and sorting out a sackful of mail each day. There will be documents s/he has to read very carefully, but most letters from constituents are sorted into topics and passed to caseworkers to research and draft replies to. The caseworkers will then pass the draft responses and any other documentation back to him/her for comments.



I was a caseworker handling social/health/educational correspondence and my job would be to read through the letters, do some background research if necessary and draft either a response or a summary report on the background to the case. Some letters, (people making general complaints,) would get standard replies. Some would require hours of trawling through legislation, regulations, long phone calls to government departments, HoC library searches etc. I remember one which involved some very complex tabulation of pension contributions going back to 1947.


The way I would handle a letter to an MP is like this:



Keep it brief.


Yours will be one of scores of letters received the same day. S/he will have a few seconds to read it. I would start by drafting a list of the points I wanted to make. Then cut it down to the three most important. Then write a short paragraph on each. You want to grab their attention and get them aware of the main issues.



Ask the MP to do something...   


Answer specific questions, sign an EDM, talk to their party education spokesperson, comment on a specific proposal.


Otherwise it will go in the rant-standard response pile.



Remember that if you ask your MP to ask a government minister a question, they have to do so.


If you want your MP to pass your concerns on to government, ask them to ask the minister concerned if....whatever your question is. They have to pass on your query and have to pass the reply back to you. This government is more than likely to send you a standard response and not answer your question, but that's not the point. The point is that the department is aware of how many MPs are being contacted by their constituents and the MPs are aware of the issues.


So personally, I would cut out as many adjectives as you can, and anything emotive - they will simply switch off. For an MP who knows nothing about your cause, it could be difficult to work out what the main points of your letter are. Dividing it into sections and having section headings would help here.  


Then ask them to do something, and ask for a reply - either to a specific question/s or for their views on a specific issue like points from the Improving Schools and Safeguarding Children White Paper (which should get them to read it) or from the home ed consultation document (likewise). Or to ask the Secretary of State for Children Schools and Families a question.

(It could take some weeks for a reply to come back from a government department).




Don't dispose of your emotional or longer first draft. It can be

a) an excellent way of clarifying your thoughts,

b) a useful resource for other letters - to newspapers, local councillors etc


Hope this has helped.
























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