Lobbying MP

Why lobby Parliament?

The British, US and EU governments are directly contributing to a humanitarian crisis because they condone the Israeli siege of the Palestinians. Instead of pressing Israel to end its occupation and other violations of international law, our government collectively punishes the Palestinian people for electing a leadership disapproved of by the US and Israeli governments.

EU and US sanctions are creating severe hunger and poverty, especially in Gaza. Britain’s support for this blockage has helped Gaza become a horrific open-air prison, with the 1.4 million residents unable to leave, making them vulnerable to violent incursions by the Israeli army.

Meanwhile, the Israeli government continues to build the illegal apartheid wall deep inside the West Bank, stealing land, imprisoning the Palestinians and destroying hopes of justice and a peaceful settlement. The Israeli government continues to deny the right of the Palestinian refugees to return to their homes.

Britain colludes with this injustice by refusing to condemn the Israeli government.

Time for Britain to change policy

PSC calls for the implementation of international law as the basis for a just solution

Gordon Brown, the Prime Minister, must immediately:

* end Britain’s support for the siege on the Palestinians
* demand the release of elected representatives
* respect Palestinian democracy
* press for EU sanctions on Israel until the illegal occupation ends
* end Britain’s arms trade with Israel

HOW TO MEET YOUR MP

Find out who your local MP is via www.TheyWorkForYou.com or by telephoning the House of Commons Information Office. They will ask you for your full postcode in order to verify which constituency you live in.

Contact your MP as soon as possible and arrange a meeting with them. Most MPs hold weekly advice surgeries for constituents, frequently on a Friday but this may vary. You can call the House of Commons on 0207219 3000 or call the constituency office number which will be found on your local MP’s website. Explain briefly to their staff why you are requesting a meeting.

With the General Election approaching it may also be worth contacting the Prospective Parliamentary Candidates (PPCs) standing in your constituency. You can visit www.ukpollingreport.co.uk to discover who the leading PPCs in your area are, and you will be able to arrange a meeting or telephone conversation with them to discuss the issues that are of interest to you, when deciding who to vote for.

HOW TO LOBBY EFFECTIVELY

Be as constructive as possible. MPs regularly say to us that in the past constituents have used the lobbies as arena to vent anger. You need to ask what constructive things he/she can do to try and alleviate the plight.

Always stay calm and composed. Even if your MP says things that you do not agree with, do don’t react aggressively and be polite and tolerant. Consider them to be on your side, not adversaries. Your point comes across more effectively if you build a calm, rational argument.

Know what you are going to say and research. Try to make sure that everything you say is factually correct and that you can back it up. If you use statistics that are exaggerated or unsubstantiated then you will immediately lose the attention of your MP.

Be specific and concise. See our briefing material for the issues to highlight, and choose which key points you feel more comfortable making. Stick to one or two major points and lay out your argument in a short and succinct fashion before asking your MP what you would like them to do on the matter. It helps the issue enormously if all of the MPs hear the same issues raised, if there are too many, or if you go off on a tangent, the lobby looses focus.

Request constructive action. Ask them to raise a question in the House of Commons, write to Foreign Secretary or sign a particular Early Day Motion (EDM) on the issue.

Follow up and feedback. Send a written thank you letter to your MP a week or so after the meeting. Very briefly reiterate your points, and if your MP promised a particular course of action, say that you look forward to hearing back from them.

About the Author

Leeds Palestine Solidarity Campaign