Friday 22-05-2015 - 11:16
With the election now over and a new government in place, whether you are happy with the outcome or not, it’s time to start thinking on how you will influence and work with your local MP.
We need to ensure that MPs are aware that students in their constituencies won’t just vote and then fade into the background.
It is really important to establish this link early on. Over the next five years, you will want them to support the issues which students are campaigning on and care about in your area as well as on a national level. Together we need to set the agenda locally and nationally on the issues that matter to students.
Arrange to meet with them soon
Start as you mean to go on and get in touch with them now and ideally arrange a meeting with them within their first two months in office.
We’ve set up a draft letter which you can edit and send to your MPs through a simple online form.
Some basic tips on things you should consider when influencing your MP can be found here and you can also get in touch with firstname.lastname@example.org for extra support.
Find out more about them
It will also be a good idea to do some digging on your new MPs. What is their background? Did they attend any hustings events before the election – if so, what did they say about key student issues? If they have been an MP previously, what does their parliamentary record show?
A great place to start is www.theyworkforyou.com.
Influencing MPs in a minority government
With a Conservative government which only has a very slim majority (of just 12 MPs), laws could be passed by a handful of votes at a time and so your influence upon individual MPs, whatever political party they belong to, really will make all the difference. In this context the importance of building supportive coalitions on students’ issues with MPs across all parties is more important now than ever.
Keep the pressure on – there’s more to come
Students were an impressive force in the run up to the election. Lets’ not let it drop. For other excellent ways you can keep up the momentum of political engagement now that the election is over – see this article packed with five ideas for staying politically engaged after the general election.
And finally, even though the next General Election won’t be for another five years there are elections in 2016 for the Northern Ireland Assembly, National Assembly for Wales, Scottish Parliament as well as locally around England, an EU referendum planned before 2017, and a potential boundary review which will adjust constituencies based on the registered electorate. So it’s important to keep up your voter registration and campaigning efforts so we can continue to prove that young people are engaged, they do vote, and they should have a voice in politics.
We know that there are some very serious risks on the horizon – from privatisation of education and the rising costs of learning, to attacks on the poorest and most vulnerable people in society and the danger that we will be cut off from the rest of the world altogether.
In the face of this, the student movement will be at the heart of demonstrating the importance of community, collectivism, and working together for a better future.