5 tips to make calling your MP less scary

Marianne blogs about calling her local MP

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It turns out calling your MP is actually quite intimidating. I’ve worked in advocacy for almost 20 years, and even I was nervous about calling my MP (to see just how nervous, check out the video link in the PS to this email). 

Thankfully, we have members who have more experience, and better ideas, than me. So here are five top tips on calling your MP, as suggested by ActionStation members. Hopefully they’ll inspire you to call your own MP this week. To make it easy, we've listed MP names, phone numbers and email addresses here.

1. Find out when your MP’s open clinic times are and make an appointment.

ActionStation member Louise, from Hutt South electorate, wrote:

“Just about to sit down and make a few notes for my meeting with Trevor. His public clinics start again next week so I'm going to go to the next available one. I figure using the clinics is a good idea as it's a time when MPs expect to be talking with constituents anyway and therefore may be a bit more receptive.”

This is a great tip - most MPs hold open clinics at their electorate offices on set days. If you call your MP’s electorate office (the numbers are all listed here) they should be able to tell you when they hold clinics, and book you in or let you know when to drop in.

2. Frame your conversation as a question rather than a demand

This tip also came from Louise, and I think it’s a great strategy particularly if you are calling an opposition MP who is not going to be in a position to directly influence government policy.

“Since Trevor is a senior Labour MP,” Louise said, “I’m going to ask him what he thinks needs to be done about Dirty Politics, and what we - as citizens - can do to make sure it happens.”

3. If you're courteous, MPs probably will be too, even the ones you didn't vote for.

Given the kind of behaviour we often see in Parliament, it’s not surprising some of us are reluctant to call our MPs. If they don’t like what we have to say, will they shout at us the way they shout at their political opponents across the House?

Happily, in my experience and the experience of our members so far, the answer is a resounding no. In Epsom, Cath and her husband called their new MP David Seymour. Despite concerns many of us will share about his party, they “congratulated him on his electoral "success" and voiced our concerns about undermining of democratic institutions and revelations of Dirty Politics. He was courteous, and said it was something he would look at.”

4. You can choose to only talk about the issues you care or know most about.

“I've decided not to raise every one of the action areas with my MP but have just picked the ones I feel most passionately about and have the most personal experience of. These are the issues I'll be able to talk to with more confidence and conviction.  I may still mention the other issues but it will be those first three I'll speak to in any detail.” - ActionStation member, Louise

5. If you are too shy to call, you can email instead.

An ActionStation member from Dunedin North wrote: "Even though I was too shy to ring David Clark I sent him an email detailing not only my personal concerns but those of ActionStation as well regarding dirty politics. I told him that I hoped he would represent our voice."

And a final tip from us: Remember our MPs actually work for us. It's their job to listen to our concerns.

This is a critical time to stand up for our democracy. One party has a majority control of Parliament for the first time in 18 years and we have a small window of opportunity to let our MPs know we care about the state of our democracy, before they get too comfortable.We need to ensure that neither the government, nor the opposition, can forget that we, the people, care about and will continue to stand up for the state of our democracy.

Click here for all the information you need to call your new MP today.

Cheers,

Marianne

PS: If you’d like to watch a video of me stumbling over my words while calling Annette King’s office to find out exactly how and when I could talk to Annette herself, click here.

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