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Spending Review - John C. Kirk — LiveJournal

Nov. 5th, 2010

02:07 am - Spending Review

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From:rplackett
Date:November 5th, 2010 11:46 am (UTC)
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Its not obvious from your post whether you sent them an email or a physical letter. I would say that I have had an excellent response whenever I have contacted my MP about something (usually Science budget cuts) but that I have always done it by physical post. With the proliferation of sites like theyworkforyou i know a lot of MPs complain about the volume of emails they have to deal with, so I would suspect that a physical letter gets a better hearing than an email generated by one of these sites. I think just getting over the effort barrier of actually writing a physical letter as opposed to bashing out an email buys you a lot of credibility.
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From:johnckirk
Date:November 5th, 2010 12:33 pm (UTC)
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I typed the message into the WriteToThem website, then they sent it to the MP ... somehow. This could involve email, snail mail, or fax; I think it depends on the individual MP's preferences. I did consider a physical letter, but the main snag is that I don't have a printer at home at the moment. I'll see whether I get a response to this message, then I may do things differently in future. Mind you, my MP has one of the safest seats in the country, so he may just ignore my messages whatever format they're in.
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From:susannahf
Date:November 5th, 2010 01:06 pm (UTC)
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I've written using writetothem before, and got a good response. Having said that, I suspect that it depends on the individual MP. Many have emails on their personal website, which implies that they encourage e-communication, and I've used these as well with success.
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From:rplackett
Date:November 5th, 2010 01:15 pm (UTC)
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What made me think of it was an interview with the speaker, or one of the other house officers, that members were complaining about the volumes of communication from websites that automated contact. They had no 'solution' for it but were looking at ways of filtering questions that had already been answered.
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From:johnckirk
Date:November 5th, 2010 01:23 pm (UTC)
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I suspect that this is mainly a problem for form letters (essentially a more verbose version of a petition), and the WriteToThem site specifically blocks them:
http://www.writetothem.com/about-qa#formletters

That's why I made an effort to put this letter in my own words, and emphasised that I'm opposed to this particular cut rather than cuts in general.
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From:rplackett
Date:November 5th, 2010 01:45 pm (UTC)
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I think the letter itself is great, and obviously writing a personalized and detailed missive that shows you have an understanding of the situation and that you are an articulate well informed member of the public goes a long way to making them take you seriously.

I saw and agree with the site blocking form letters... but i still think that the ease of sending an outraged email/posting on a forum/website, coupled with the culture of lively debate that exists on the internet means that there is much less of a threshold for someone sending email and i suspect a much higher number of rather spurious and random communications through those channels.

It is only my guess that this leads to MPs taking e-contact less seriously, but based on that i would say if you want to maximize the effect of of your composition send them something with a stamp on it and demonstrate you care enough to pay 37p for it to get to them.

The question of whether you should include a fiver as a 'campaign donation' to further demonstrate your ardor is of course a matter of personal taste and your reading of the proclivities of your particular representative.
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From:susannahf
Date:November 5th, 2010 01:32 pm (UTC)
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Yes that's definitely an issue, and why I asked people to write individual letters rather than use the Scope site, which appears to send a form letter. If I was an MP, I'd be much more likely to respond to a individualised letter than one that was basically a press release with a name and address added.
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From:rplackett
Date:November 5th, 2010 01:49 pm (UTC)
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Yes I totally agree, I think its all to easy for MPs to dismiss form letters (event print ones) as a low volume petition, especially when its so easy to print something out without really thinking about it.
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