In depth: Lobby your MP
Aberystwyth Uni group with MP
Arranging a meeting with your MP can be a bit daunting if you’ve not done it before. But a little preparation should give you all the confidence you need. On this page you will find some advice on how to plan a successful meeting, and communicate your demands effectively. There are some ideas for the key points you might like to make to your MP, a list of actions to ask your MP to take, and guidance on how to follow-up your meeting.
And if after all this you need any more inspiration or confidence you can request a workshop for your university or sixth form group on Lobbying to Treat AIDS Now - which includes information on the campaign and lobbying skills - applicable to any campaign!
Before your meeting
Do your research
Your meeting will be more effective if you do some preparation. Try and find out what your MP’s previously said, done or signed on the issue. This way you’ll know how to approach the meeting.
- One of the best ‘one-stop-shops’ to find out about your MP is Theyworkforyou - enter your postcode to find out who your MP is, how they have voted in the House of Commons, their areas of interest, speeches they’ve made, and parliamentary questions they’ve asked.
- Read your MP’s biography and see website
- Find out what Early Day Motions they have supported
- Power to the people also links to a whole host of other useful resources.
Make sure you are well prepared and fully acquainted with the issue.
You can read the campaign briefing online and submit any tricky questions you have on our Frequently Asked Questions page. However, unless the issue is one of your MP’s main interests you will often know far more than they do. Look at our Public Speaking guide for top tips on presenting your case clearly. But remember you don’t have to be an expert - you just need to be willing to ask your MP some questions, and be able to explain why you think it’s an important issue for them to address.
Decide on your key messages.
Meetings are normally only 10-15 minutes long and usually quite informal; you don’t need to prepare a long presentation. Just focus on your key messages, backed up with a few statistics. We’ve included some ideas on key points you might like to make below
Plan your roles as a group
In a group, decide on whether you will make individual appointments or go together as a party (normally not more than 3 or 4). Get together beforehand and decide which aspects of the issue each of you will concentrate on, so that the discussion does not focus on one spokesperson. It is often a good idea to have one person just observing the conversation, perhaps making notes, and only entering it if the discussion is wandering off course or getting a little too heated.
Have some practise sessions beforehand, where one of you pretends to be the MP. Time your practise, and feed back to each other afterwards on how clearly your message came across. Did you miss anything important? Did you ask your MP to do something specific?
During the meeting
Try to leave with an agreement on the specific action your MP will take for you.
Don´t forget to ask your MP to:
- Write to the Secretary of State for International Development and the Prime Minister. Our demands can be found on the action cards, and you can give them a copy of this 2-page summary.
- Sign the EDMs.
- You could ask your MP if they would be willing to ask a parliamentary question on the issue. The support office can help draft a question for the MP to ask.
- Let them know that you will be interested to see their progress and to follow this meeting up with them.
Take brief notes on what your MP is saying.
Keep a record of anything the MP agreed to. And please let us know what your MP says - what action they have agreed to take, or any areas they disagreed on. This is important for monitoring the effectiveness of the campaign nationwide, and to help with the future development of the campaign.
Give a consistent message
If you are a group, don’t disagree with each other as it detracts from your message. Offer to send further information on any point of particular interest to your MP. Take along any briefing material you feel is suitable to give to your MP.
It’s not just about what you say…
Remember that the way you communicate your message is almost as important as what it is. Consider appearance, body language. Be confident and assertive but stay calm and polite.
What to say
Start by introducing yourself and People & Planet. Explain what you’re there to talk about, and why you think it’s an important issue for your MP to address. For example,
“We’re from the People & Planet anytown group. People & Planet is a student campaigning network taking action on the root causes of poverty, economic injustice and environmental destruction. There are over 150 groups campaigning in sixth forms and universities across the country. As part of our campaign to Treat AIDS Now, our group at anytown has collected hundreds of petitions from our fellow students calling on the government to take action to keep its promise of universal access to AIDS treatment by 2010. The UK government is currently writing its new AIDS strategy - deciding its response to the crisis over the next three years. It must contain bold action if the promise of universal access is to be kept. We’d like to talk to you about the campaign and what action you can take to support it.
Below you will find some ideas for key points you might want to make. Use as much or little as you like and feel is appropriate for your MP.
- HIV/AIDS is a huge epidemic that must be addressed.
Hopefully your MP is already aware of, and cares about, the AIDS crisis. But some may need a bit more information.
HIV/AIDS has a huge impact on peoples’ lives. Nearly 40 million are living with HIV/AIDS, 25 million have already died. Every day 8000 people die from AIDS. AIDS is the number one cause of death in Africa.
HIV/AIDS also has a devastating impact on societies and economic development in some of the poorest parts of the world.
- Access to Treatment is a critical issue
Keep the promise!
We can treat HIV/AIDS, and treatment is an essential part of any response to the crisis. With treatment HIV/AIDS is an illness that can be lived with, rather than a death sentence. The availability of treatment allows people to continue working, caring for their families and contributing to their communities. The provision of treatment also helps reduce stigma and discrimination, increases the effectiveness of prevention efforts, and reduces long-term health costs.
Access to treatment is a human right. But while there is near universal access to treatment in countries like the UK, in developing countries three quarters of those in urgent need of treatment are still not receiving it.
- The UK led the way in obtaining an international commitment to universal access to treatment by 2010.
Treatment for all
The UK’s international leadership has played an important role in the fight against AIDS, particularly through its leadership in obtaining an international commitment to universal access to treatment by 2010.
- **This promise is in jeopardy
Without a significant increase in resources this commitment will not be met. If efforts continue at the current rate it will be missed by more than a decade - at the cost of millions of lives.
The UK’s new strategy must provide the money, the affordable medicines the health workers and the political leadership needed to keep the promise.
- Generic competition is vital if we are to meet and sustain the promise of universal acccess
Competition from generic drugs (safe and effective copies of brand drugs) has been vital in bringing down the cost of HIV/AIDS drugs. On average the minimum price paid for HIV/AIDS drugs is 82% less than the the brand price. Some generics are up to 98% cheaper than their brand name alternatives.
In 2010 we expect 10 million people to be in need of treatment. Eventually everyone living with HIV/AIDS will require treatment, and require it for the rest of their lives. A sustainable supply of affordable drugs will be vital if we are to meet and sustain this commitment.
- Trade rules threaten the production of cheap versions of new medicines that will be needed to meet and sustain the promise of universal access.
AIDS medication and treatment is witheld from millions in need.
Newer treatments, such as those for patients resistant to older treatments, those designed for children, and those which are better suited for use in resource-poor settings, are desperately needed. The need for these drugs will only increase.
But new drugs are priced out of reach by trade rules on patents. The WTO’s TRIPS agreement grants monopolies to a company for a minimum of 20 years, blocking the generic competition needed to bring prices down. Despite an international declaration that “governments must put public health before patent rights” (allowing patents to be set aside in a public health emergency), these rules are still blocking access to affordable AIDS treatment.
Amendments to the agreement designed to allow generic production and export have proven to be over-complex and unworkable. The current system makes it difficult for countries to access the generic drugs they need, and reduces the incentives for generics firms to invest in AIDS treatment.
If the government is to keep its promise it must take urgent action promote generic competition, including by ensuring trade rules do not stand in the way.
- The world is not finding the money needed to meet its commitments.
fund the fight against AIDS!
istockphoto.com/ PhekThong Lee
Even if drug prices came down to little more than the price it costs to make them, most developing countries still wouldn´t be able to afford them. We will need significantly more money than is currently available to ensure that everyone, even the poorest, can enjoy access to treatment. Similarly, without improvements in health systems and money for prevention and education programmes, little progress will be made.
UNAIDS have estimated that global resources to tackle AIDS need to quadruple - urgently — if the promise of universal access by 2010 is to be met. Rich countries need to move swiftly to deliver the money needed to fight AIDS. Without these resources, millions more will die unnecessarily, and HIV/AIDS will continue to spread.
If the 2010 promise is to be kept, funding must be sustainable and predictable so access to treatment can be expanded and sustained over the long term, and so developing country governments are able to plan and sustain an adequate response to AIDS
- The UK could find an extra £2 billion a year, every year
$475 trillion a year is traded on the currency markets - equivalent to a pile of £50 pounds notes stretching from the earth to the moon
A stamp duty on currency transactions is a small charge on currency trading. It could be implemented by any one country for its own currency. A very small stamp duty (of 0.005%) on sterling transactions alone would generate up to £2 billion each year.
- Recent research shows there are no technical barriers to implementing such a duty. The infrastructure required is already in place. The charge could not be avoided.
- Such a tiny duty would not damage trade, interfere with the market or cause a loss of business.
- The duty would be easy to implement — Parliament could enact it in a year.
In November 2007 a parliamentary investigation into the proposal for a stamp duty reported it was technically sound, entirely feasible, relatively simple to implement, and had the potential to generate considerable funds, and it would help us meet our promises and set the standards for other countries to do the same.
The UK could choose to implement a stamp duty on currency transactions now, and generate more than a billion pounds of additional revenue for development. Such a move is technically feasible, cost-effective, and relatively straightforward. All that is missing is the political will.
- The UK must take action NOW!
There’s only three years to go until 2010, but still less than a quarter of those in urgent need of treatment are receiving it. We need urgent action if we are to have a chance of keeping the 2010 promise.
After the meeting
Write a short letter to thank your MP for seeing you. This letter is also a good opportunity to restate and key points and remind your MP of any action they agreed to take.
Keep up the dialogue. React to events and campaign initiatives with further letters bringing to their attention developments and news stories.
If the MP has agreed or refused to do something see if it is of interest to the local media.
As with letter writing, if you don’t get the response you want, be persistent. And again, as with letter writing, encourage others to visit them, or go in a large group to demonstrate the support your cause has.