Week 11: What to do if your MP wins a golden ticket in the Private Members’ Bill ballot #107days

This blog post, on the eve of the Private Members’ Bill ballot #PMBBallot makes some suggestions of what to do if your MP wins the golden ticket in tomorrow’s ballot (and some of them might be useful even if they don’t).

Thanks to the unstinting efforts of #JusticeforLB’ers across the country, at the time of writing over half of all MPs (333 out of 650) have been contacted about #LBBill. This is a huge achievement in just over a week, and reflects the entirely crowdsourced nature of the Bill so far.

LBBillContacted1-333

Our campaigning is far from over though and we need to redouble our efforts at 9am tomorrow, when the ballot for this year’s Private Members’ Bills takes place. The House of Commons twitter account has been highlighting the role of PMBs and using the #PMBBallot all week, so we’re hopeful that they may live tweet it and if you’re online you can watch it on Parliament TV here!

Shortly after 9am we will know the names of the MPs who will have the chance to present a Bill of their choice to Parliament. As explained in a previous blog on the LBBill site we need one of the top six or seven MPs to take #LBBill for it to have a real chance of becoming law.

Therefore we’re asking all of you to check Facebook or Twitter as soon as you can after the ballot tomorrow morning to see if your MP has drawn one of the ‘golden tickets’, that is to see if they came high up in the Private Members Bill ballot.

If they have, then these are some suggestions of things you might do to get your MP’s attention and persuade them to sponsor the #LBBill:

1) Tweet your MP. While this only takes a few seconds our experience so far is that not all MPs engage with their Twitter accounts (indeed some still aren’t on Twitter). So please do this, but don’t just do this! 140 characters is limiting but please try to get across why #LBBill matters.

2) Email your MP. We won’t win any prizes for originality with this suggestion but emails will go straight to the MP’s staff and experience is showing supporters are getting better engagement from emails than tweets. Explain to your MP why #LBBill matters to you.

3) Phone your MP. You can ring the House of Commons switchboard on 020 7219 3000 and ask to be put through to the office of your MP. Be sure to say you are their constituent, you are calling because you know they have been drawn high up in the Private Members Bill ballot and that you would like them to sponsor #LBBill. Explain why the Bill matters from your perspective. If you can’t reach your MP ask for their researcher.

4) Send your MP a letter. Despite being a little bit obsessed with the power of social media to engage with politics, we also love getting post and think your MP may too. Why not dig out your finest writing paper, or dig in to your stash of LBBus postcards and write to your MP. Be sure to do it quick so it reaches your MP before they decide on who to support. If you have children or artists you’re keen to engage, why not send your MP an LB Bus picture too and explain the significance.

5) Go to your MP’s next surgery. All MPs hold surgeries where their constituents can go and discuss local issues with them face to face. Check your MPs website, look in the local press and find out when their next surgery is to be held. Maybe try to get a group of people together to go and see them. If you are going as a group you might want to contact your MP’s constituency office (as opposed to their office in Parliament) and let them know in advance.

6) Go to see your MP in Parliament. If you contact your MP by email or by phone (see 2 and 3 above) you could ask for an appointment to go and see them in Parliament – and perhaps take friends / a local group with you. If you meet in Westminster you may also be able to get a tour round Parliament!

7) Invite your MP to come and meet you. You might like to invite your MP to come and meet you and your family at home, or to come and speak to a local group your involved in. MPs generally want to engage in their local community and it will help convince them of the need for action if they get an insight into people’s real lives.

8) Hold a #JusticeforLB pop-up picnic or party and invite your MP along. The idea for pop-up parties was first shared back in April (see Action 3 in this post) and we’re keen to ensure everyone, regardless of any disability they may have, gets the chance to attend. This is a great chance for a number of people to get together, have fun and meet your MP in an informal setting.

Even if your MP is not a lucky golden ticket holder, their support for the Bill could be key. The more MPs that are aware of the challenges facing disabled people, the origins of the Bill and how it could improve disabled peoples live, the better. The one key element of any action at this stage, is speed.

MPs will be starting to commit to particular causes in the hours and days after the ballot. So please do contact your MP as soon as possible, even if just by a quick tweet, email, letter or call. You can always follow up with something more creative.

Some resources that might help you are:
– The quick guide to the Bill
– The full text of the Bill
Explanatory notes, which deal with the technical issues
– A film which explains where the Bill came from and what it would do
– A blog from Sara explaining why the Bill would have made a difference to LB
– A blog from Steve explaining why the Bill is needed in the light of the Care Act 2014

You can include links to some or all of these when you contact your MP, but they will definitely need to have the full text of the Bill to hand. You can download it by clicking here: LBBill Draft 2

If your MP has any questions, they can send us an email to LBBillFeedback@gmail.com or tweet us @JusticeforLB and we will arrange for someone from the LBBill Team to call them.

Don’t forget if your MP isn’t chosen at the top of the ballot (a highly likely event) that you can still email or tweet them asking them to contact their colleagues who have been successful in the ballot and support the Bill. Peer pressure is very important!

Finally, there will be thirteen MPs who are picked at 8-20 in the ballot who will get the chance to sponsor a Bill but without any realistic prospect of it having enough Parliamentary time to become law! If we cannot persuade any of the top seven MPs to sponsor the Bill we would be delighted for it to be picked up by any of these MPs as a chance to keep the pressure up. So if your MP is picked in a lower slot please still contact them.

Thanks for your support so far, and for all the work that will follow Thursday’s ballot. Some of you potentially hold the keys to the next stage of making the #LBBill law and are about to have a very important role to play in the campaign! As ever, we could not do this without you, so thank you.

Day 87: Letters and buses #107days

Day 87 is another shared day, this time between Educational Rights Alliance and Carol Stott.

This is what ERA had to say about supporting #107days and #JusticeforLB:

Members of the Educational Rights Alliance were absolutely stunned to hear of Connor Sparrowhawk’s entirely preventable death. We wanted to add words of support to Connor’s family and friends at this dreadful time but, like all of us supporting the #107days campaign, we also wanted to DO something to make sure this never happened again.

Connor’s story cuts deep with us. We are all parents of children who happen to have disabilities and we are outraged by the indifference and hostility they sometimes encounter.

Urgent change is needed and we believe that ensuring respect for disabled people’s legal rights to dignity and equality is an essential first step in that process of change. The law already exists to protect our children but it does not operate to safeguard them in practice. Why?

We think we need to start demanding answers to difficult questions like this and that a good starting place lies in establishing political accountability. So, we have adopted Day 87 because we want to contribute to this process of change in a small way.

ERA volunteered to help, very early on, to support people to take actions themselves to contact their MP. This is what they’ve done:

We have drafted a letter that people can use to send to their MP. The template is here.

The letter can be used to inform your MP of the concerns around the use of Assessment and Treatment Units (ATUs) and to ask them to make inquiries about the use of ATUs in your constituency. It is only a template so it can be amended as you want.

There are two things to note:

1. You can write, fax or email your MP but MPs will generally only act on behalf of their constituents, so please check you are contacting the MP who represents your constituency. You can find out who your MP is here. The reports mentioned in the letter are all hyperlinked so if you send the letter by email, the MP’s staff will be able to access the information easily.

2. You can find out if there are any ATUs in your area by going to the NHS England site here and clicking on the link entitled Quarter Ending 31 March 2014: Excel workbook showing the data‘. If you click on the tab which says ‘Patients’, you will find information about which Trusts have patients. You could highlight those Trusts in your area in the letter to your MP. Otherwise, you can leave the template letter as it is.

We are making this commitment to the campaign: if you let us have copies of any responses you receive, we will produce a report for the #107days campaign based on this information. You can contact Debbie Sayers by email if you have any queries at any time and please leave a comment below this post with your name and the MP you have contacted. This isn’t essential but would give us some idea of who we’ve contacted.

While most of us are settling down to write letters this weekend, Carol is taking the much more active option and has set herself quite a challenge. This is why she’s supporting #107days and #JusticeforLB:

I didn’t know LB but I came across the #107 and #JusticeforLB campaigns on Facebook. For such a happy, loved and special young man to be subjected to what he was, is a personal tragedy for LB and his family and a national disgrace. We can’t sit back and let these things pass us by. We owe it to LB and to others like him to celebrate his life and his loves and to make the world aware of what happened.

Today Carol is travelling around London, on as many London buses as she can, taking photos of as many as possible (hopefully 107) to make a bus collage.She is doing this raising awareness and funds for JusticeforLB. You can follow her progress on twitter here or on facebook here. You can donate to her efforts here.

Day87Carol