What can I ask my MP to do?
MPs can feel frustrated if constituents don't have a clear idea about what exactly they are asking for. In Prof. Emma Crewe's book, The House of Commons: An Anthropology of MPs at Work, she describes the "endless difficulties [MPs faced] in translating constituents' views into actions". Before your meeting, have a think about what action you would like your MP to take. What would you like your MP to agree to do and by when? How would you like your MP to feel about a particular issue by the end of your conversation?
One MP alone can't solve climate change, but there is a lot they can do using their role as a Member of Parliament. You can ask your MP to...
- Pass a letter onto Government. Don't be put off if this is all your MP agrees to do, as receiving letters from local constituents gives an indication to Ministers what the public is concerned about.
- Internal Lobbying. In addition to passing a letter on your behalf to the relevant Minister in Government, an MP could write a letter themselves or set up a private meeting with the relevent Minister (and invite you to it!).
- Submit an Early Day Motion (EDM). This is a formal motion that an MP can submit for debate. Even if the motion is not debated, it is an opportunity for an MP to put their opinion on record and draw attention to a particular topic. Other MPs can add their name to a motion for support. You can see any EDMs that your MP has submitted here.
- Use their high profile position to raise the profile of climate change by speaking at events or in schools, writing an article in the local media or putting information on their website.
- Raise an issue at Parliament by submitting a question, speaking during a relevant debate or even calling a debate themselves.
- Campaign on a local or national issue. Locally, for example, an MP could campaign for better cycle paths, pedestrianisation, more electric vehicle charging points, or support for Community Energy. National campaign issues include supporting a new tidal lagoon, clean air zones, tackling fuel poverty or support for sustainable education.
Choosing your 'Ask'
Your MP is more likely to come away from meeting with the motivation to take action if they have been presented with an 'Ask' that they are happy to put their name on. Some things to consider when choosing your Ask are:
- Start small. In order to build a long-lasting relationship with your MP, it is wise to start small with your Ask. As your relationship grows stronger and mutual trust is established, you can begin to challenge your MP with bigger Asks. Start with something that you know your MP will be able to achieve so you can thank them and build a good rapport.
- Is it popular? An MP will be less willing to do something if they think it will be unpopular in the constituency. Think about the positive publicity they may be able to get by taking positive action on climate change. Ultimately, it is your MP's role to represent the views of the whole constituency so they are unlikely to respond to an Ask that would directly conflict with the immediate needs of local people.
- Is it in line with their values? Frame your Ask around your MP's main interests and values. If your MP has a position in cabinet, you could frame your Ask around their role. For example, asking the Minister for Health to campaign for Electric Vehicles to reduce air pollution. You can find out more information about how to research your MP's interests here.
- Are they equipped for it? Is the action feasible for them to do? Do they need further information, for example a briefing, from you in order to be able to take this action forward?
- Is it grounded in the local? Ultimately your MP is meeting you as a local politician who is representing the local area. For example, if you are talking about a national problem such as air pollution, frame your Ask around the areas of the highest air pollution in your constituency.
- Is it SMART? (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, Timely). An Ask framed around SMART makes it easier to follow up with your MP.
In order for your Ask to fulfill the above guidelines, it is essential that you do some research into your MP before deciding what you might ask them to do. Click below for more information on researching your MP and choosing which issues to raise with them.
If you are still struggling to think of an Ask or would like further information on any of these key areas, please contact us and we would be more than happy to work with you.