By Online Progressive Engagement Network (OPEN)
Below is a range of advice and resources from digital campaigning organisations, which can easily be adapted to your needs – whether it’s meeting with an MP (or Senator) yourself, or helping your members do it.
Why meet with an MP?
- To talk to them about a campaign you’re both working, to make an ask or to provide your organisation’s insight.
- Because they hold an important position in their party so your organisation should have a relationship with them.
Before the meeting:
- Know how many members live in their constituency.
- Check the MPs biography, read up on their interests.
- Find out their approach to your organisation in the past – see if you’ve ever had emails from them, or any form of correspondence.
- Are any of your members running decentralised campaigns in their area?
- Do you have any live campaigns that are under their current or past portfolios?
- Quick google search to find out the latest new on them. Find out what they look like before you meet them!
- Write up a one or two pager document including the key points you want to cover. If you’re lobbying for a policy, include all the information here, clearly evidenced.
At the meeting:
- Introductions are key, e.g explain your role.
- Remain polite, open and firm.
- Tell story of your organisation (funding, membership, campaigns, mission).
- Get them to commit to something at the meeting – even if it’s small.
- Respond to hostile MPs by listening and taking their concerns on board but don’t promise anything.
- Present them with the one or two pager, reaffirming your points.
After the meeting:
- Email thanks, key points you discussed and reminder of what they and you are now doing. Remember to follow this up if you don’t hear back from them.
- Write a brief note about what was discussed a the meeting and make sure it’s accessible for future staff who may meet with them.
- Maintain the relationship: ask their opinion on a campaign, or something they’re working on, if a decentralised member-led campaign pops up in their area, or if you’re doing something in their constituency. Make sure they know you’re not going anywhere, and you’re only getting stronger!
Supporting your members to meet their MP
Depending on the size of your organisation, you may be able to offer one-on-one support to members meeting their MPs, or you may have to develop this advice at scale. Whichever you choose, the focus should always be on trying to gather as much local information as possible – whether that’s work you’re doing as an organiser, or whether you’re asking your members to research themselves.
Your goal should be to facilitate as much as possible your members entering the meeting with the same level of preparation you would have.
Here’s a great example of holding Meet Your MP events at scale
Following the 2016 election, GetUp helped their members organise meetings with their MPs to further display GetUp’s power as a local organising force.
They started by giving the Meet Your MP Guide to Meeting Leaders to help them organise the meetings smoothly. They also gave each team an Election Impact Report and a customised local cover letter to print and deliver to the MP.
These resources allowed teams of members to prepared together, and meet with their MPs ready with clear, localised resources.
- Working with your elected representatives
- How to get your local MP to listen to your community: ACF Community Toolkit
- How to present a petition to Parliament
- Elections and Activism: Campaign Skills
- Lobbying: a tactic for social change
- Lobbying and Advocacy: Start Here
- Decentralised control
- Digital campaigning
- Members and Supporters
- Members_Supporters - Events
- Political participation
- Political parties
- Scaling up