A 10-point plan to respond to your Conservative MP in England

This post refers to the e-action by Wild Justice, Hen Harrier Action and the RSPB which already has had over 83,000 participants. The biggest single group of recipients of these actions have been Conservative MPs in England just because there are a lot of them – all have been contacted by constituents. If you have missed this so far then please have a look at the e-action and see whether you’d like to support it too. Thank you.

I’ll come back to other parts of the UK through the week and after the e-action closes next Monday. My aim is to help you become more of a campaigner and to enable you to make some points to your MP.

This is my 10-point plan for you:

  1. If your MP has not responded yet – do nothing, just wait. My MP has not responded yet. That is fair enough he’s only had my e-action for a couple of weeks. It’s holiday time – he may well be on holiday. Or his staff may be on holiday. I’m relaxed, I can wait. I’ll be ready for his reply whenever it comes. But I have put a reminder in my calendar that if I have not had a reply by 8 September then I’ll be asking why not and starting to chase – you could do the same.
  2. Has your MP said that they will contact DEFRA on your behalf? If yes: then thank them for doing that, whatever else you do. The e-action, which was sent to politicians in all four home nations asked the politician to contact the environment department. In England that is unambiguously DEFRA. Some Conservative MPs and just about every other MP from every other political party have said that they will pass your email on to DEFRA, as they should, but many Conservative MPs are ignoring your wishes.
  3. Has your MP said that they will contact DEFRA on your behalf? If no: then point out that you asked them to do this, that they haven’t confirmed that they will but you do want them to do so. So can they just let you know, please, that they have or they will.
  4. Has your MP said that they have spoken to a minister about these matters. If yes: well, if yes, then I simply don’t believe them, certainly not all of them. I think that this is a lie to fob you off (of course I might be wrong). If my MP tells me that he has done this I will ask him on what date he spoke to a minister and which DEFRA minister it was. And I will relentlessly press him to answer those questions. For an MP to tell a constituent that they have done something which they haven’t done is a serious matter. If I caught my MP lying to me I’d be taking it further. So why not ask? And, by the way, a few days ago I submitted an FoI request to DEFRA asking which ministers had had conversations with which Conservative MPs about the e-action on which dates – I’ll be interested to see the response. This is what many Conservative MPs are telling their constituents ‘After speaking to the Minister, it is clear that the Government is very concerned about hen harrier populations,…’. I reckon that this has been inserted into the standard letter as an excuse for Conservative MPs not to pass your letter on to DEFRA and if it is a lie then it is a serious matter.
  5. Did you get this response from your MP – click here? My suggested response can be found in that post. That was the original shockingly bad Conservative response which has morphed into a slightly better version since.
  6. What did your MP say about burning and blanket bogs? My guess is that they either said this ‘Following representations by me and others, Ministers have accepted the need to phase out rotational burning of protected blanket bog to conserve vulnerable habitats.‘ or this ‘it is important to recognise that healthy, active peatland provides numerous environmental benefits and ecosystem services including natural cover for grouse.‘. In either case ask your MP to ask DEFRA when it intends to bring in the ban on burning on peatlands called for by the Climate Change Committee and promised by DEFRA minister Zac Goldsmith almost a year ago. Say that is one of the reasons why you want to hear from DEFRA and not just your MP.
  7. What did your MP say about Hen Harriers? My guess is either this ‘Raptor persecution, including of hen harriers, is a national wildlife crime priority and there are strong penalties in place for offences committed against birds of prey.‘ or this ‘the Government shares my concerns about hen harrier populations, which is why it took the lead on the Hen Harrier Action Plan. This sets out what will be done to increase hen harrier populations in England and includes measures to stop illegal persecution. If this is not effective, I will press for further action.‘. In either case tell your MP that you don’t believe that the 2016 Hen Harrier Action Plan is working, and neither do the RSPB, raptor fieldworkers, Chris Packham or anyone else with any real knowledge of the subject. And you’d like to hear DEFRA’s response.
  8. Be polite but firm: your MP works for you (whether you voted for them or not). You have a legitimate concern and you can be assured that you aren’t the only consitituent to have raised these issues. Don’t let them fob you off.
  9. Don’t delay: please reply to your MP fairly quickly. A quick response signals that you mean business and it also means that you won’t forget!
  10. It’s up to you! Thank you for taking part in the e-action anyway, even if you don’t take it any further – you will have done something to help our wildlife and the environment. But people drop out along the way and so even if your MP had 100 emails on this subject they might only get 10 people responding to their response and it will be nine if you drop out. For some MPs they will only have had a handful of emails and so your response is even more important. The way I always look at it is that it will take me less time to engage with my MP than it will take him to respond to me. My interest will make him engage with the subject more than if I don’t bother – I can’t lose!

Meanwhile, the number of e-actions continues to mount with over 83,000 having been sent. If you haven’t yet sent an e-action to your MP (in England) or elected political representative elsewhere in the UK then please do by following this link https://wildjustice.eaction.org.uk/saveourskydancers. Thank you!


4 Replies to “A 10-point plan to respond to your Conservative MP in England”

  1. Hi Mark,
    I received a pretty standard reply from my Conservative MP, which is disappointing given that she’s a Biology graduate, that she’s worked in conservation, been a wildlife tour guide in Africa and she’s a birdwatcher.
    Anyway, I written back to ask which Ministers she’s consulted, and asked her to ask DEFRA when the burning ban will be enacted and how they’ll make the InAction Plan fit for purpose.

  2. Mark, I received a thoughtful, considered and extremely supportive reply today from my MP Luke Pollard, Shadow Secretary of State for the Environment, Food & Rural Affairs. Amongst other things, he mentions that he has been calling for over a year for the need to implement a full evidence-based review into driven grouse shooting and that he called directly on Ministers to prevent the burning of our grouse moors in a debate in Westminster last October, with links to video clips of both occasions. I will respond but am thinking what best to ask.

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