There are 646 MPs. Each of them represents about 70,000 people. But if you thought all you had to do for your MP was go and vote once every four or five years, you were wrong. It turns out you're having to fork out for MPs' electricity and water bills, digital TV subscriptions, new kitchens and much more (just flick through a John Lewis catalogue).
So, what do YOU get in return?
Well, all MPs hold surgeries in their constituencies and you can see them there. However, if you find yourself in central London you can pop down to the House of Commons and if your MP is around he or she will see you on that day. And you can lobby them about anything you want. Even if you didn't vote for your current MP, your MP is still your MP. As such they should listen to your concerns and act on your behalf or advise you accordingly.
But how can my MP help ME?
Deal with your problems
If you have an issue that you can't get resolved with your local councillor, then your MP may be able to sort it out. As long as your problem concerns central government, then your MP is the right port of call. You're MP can right a letter to the relevant government department, can write to a government minister, or even see the minister in person. Even if you didn't vote for your current MP, your MP is still your MP. As such they should listen to your concerns and act on your behalf or advise you accordingly.
Something to be wary of is that the Politicians can also harm you if you are not careful. No, I am not just talking about things like voting for war. There are many other examples, some of which will add toxicity in the public sphere that will affect us all.
An example that will be used throughout this article is one of the recent Trojan Horse Scandal - A scandal created by the then Education Secretary Michael Gove (in line with a chapter of a book he had previously written).
Michael Gove raised the issue of Extremists taking over UK schools and everyone jumped on the bandwaggon - MP's from most parties couldnt get over themselves to condemn these extremists, with no one looking to see if there was any truth.
In the end, nothing was found, the Trojan Horse letter was a Hoax, schools who had been "influenced" were actually schools who had catered for their communities where failing schools had before the political influence become rated as excellent.
but the Politicians were far more afraid of the far right and those that may vote UKIP than of Muslims so the political calculation was simple: jump on the bandwagon!
The politicians did not expect any negative reaction and they were right, they didn't get any.
See you at the House of Commons
All MPs hold surgeries in their constituencies and you can see them there. However, if you find yourself in central London you can pop down to the House of Commons and if your MP is around he or she will see you on that day. And you can lobby them about anything you want. But it's best to call them in advance and book an appointment.
Raise your concerns in Parliament
If your problem doesn't get resolved after a round of letter writing, then your MP can raise the issue in the House of Commons (that place with the green benches and all the shouting). This way your issue can be brought to the attention of the press and be made public.
If you are not involved, remember that othes will be and they may press their/your MP to raise issues in parliament that you do not support or are actively harmful for you.
There is even an official petition run by the government where if a petition gets 100,000 votes, it should be given time to be debated in the House of Commons.
Support your campaign/petition
Campaign groups are always writing to MPs. But MPs will take a letter from a constituent much more seriously. So, for example, if you want your MP to support the campaign to get Guantanamo Bay closed down, then write him or her a letter. If you have a problem that also affects lots of other people then you can get a petition together and get your MP to present it.
Your MP will be a great addition to support to any charity work or other campaign which may allow you to do a lot more than you would have without the support of your MP.
Speak to the media
If an MP wants to raise an issue or address an issue that is already in the papers he or she can do a media interview and bring their views to the general public. But remember if they are your MP they should be representing your views. So you can get your MP to speak to the media on your behalf.
Pass laws (preferrably good ones)
MPs are around mainly to pass laws. MPs vote on a bill and they pass on to the House Lords. Once the House of Lords approves the bill the Queen gives her consent and the bill becomes law. If you think that the law does not give you enough protection or that a particular hinders any of your legitimate pursuits then you can speak to your MP about introducing a bill to Parliament and getting it made into law.
But what issues EXACTLY can my MP help me with... I don't get it?
Believe it or not your MP can help you on many important issues like the following:
After 9/11 the Government introduced indefinite detention without charge of foreign nationals. This was replaced by the control order regime which allows government ministers to impose sweeping restrictions on individual freedoms on the basis of secret intelligence and suspicion. Pre-charge detention has been increased from 14 days to 28 days to possibly 42 days. Broad new speech offences impact on free speech rights and non-violent groups have been outlawed. Our right to protest has been seriously curtailed, including by the misuse of police powers.
The recent Conservative government has created an environment by passing laws and political spin that has created an atmosphere of a witchunt against Muslims. Muslims trying to improve schooling is undermined by a fake "trojan horse" plot championed by the then education minister Michael Gove (who eerily had used the exact same words about Muslims before he came into government...) along with a demonising of the muslim community often for political gain.
Tell your MP that terrorism can and must be fought without sacrificing our human rights and demonising all Muslims. Repression and injustice, and the criminalisation of non-violent speech and protest make us less safe, not more.
When it comes to election time, if your vote can help keep someone who is fair and balances and attacks and demoniss Muslims away from power, that is a few moments of your life well spent.
Britain toplay a positive role via its foreign policy
Let's face it: Britain is not an honest broker for peace in the Middle East. The former Prime Minister of the UK Tony Blair seems to be on a crusade for more violence and bloodshed.
Last year when Israel attacked Palestine, the UK government went out of its way to not condemn the attrocities committed.
In Syria, our government atleast used to condemn the violence and mass murder carried out byBashar al Assad, but now with the rise of ISIS, it seems that it would prefer to go back to a world and the devil it knows.
Britain and France broke Libya.
Britain and America broke Iraq.
We have a lot to answer for - it is estimated that western aggression has resulted in the loss of 4 million Muslim lives since 1990.
There have been multiple administrations when this has occurred, but we need to get more involved to avoid this bloodshed continuing. Maybe we can even get our government to have a more positive effect in the world.
Sort your immigration stuff out
So you're trying to get the missus over from back home but can't get your head around the paperwork. Or you've applied for her Indefinite stay or British passport but aren't getting anywhere with the Home Office then get support from your MP. He can make the process go through faster and you may even get a higher chance of success.
Or look the other way and laws have been passed over the past few years that will make it harder to bring your spouse or anyone else to the UK via restrictions that may be hard to meet.
Deal with Islamophobia
Muslims are regularly presented in a negative light in the media and often this spils over into physical abuse of Muslims in streets. This kind of discrimination can be tackled if we engage productively with our MPs. Only by engaging effectively can we ensure that Islamophobia is regarded as socially unacceptable as anti-Semitism and other forms of racism and xenophobia
The Trojan Horse fiasco that occurred recently shows how the Muslims are not seen as a voting block to bother with - without any evidence, members of all parties couldn't help themselves jumping on the bandwagon to attack the trojan horse plot. Because the Muslim community is haphazard, the politicians seizing on this for personal gain knew they had nothing to worry about - and they were right!
If you have been mistreated due to your colour or religion then your MP can help!
If you have been mistreated by the police or if you think you have been wrongly targeted for being Muslim then your MP can help expose the truth, initiate an investigation and hold those responsible to justice.
Crime, drugs, yobs
You can tell you MP to do something about the specific crime in your area. He can influence or put pressure on the police, local council and central government. He can get funding.
Schools and education
With many working age Muslims with no qualifications and Muslim being the least likely of all groups to have a university degree, a lot of work needs to go into improving our educational performance. Your MP can get more resources into your local schools and colleges if you put pressure on for them to do so.
You can also do your bit by becoming a school governor. See: Association of Muslim Governors www.muslimgovernors.org
If your MP decides to demonise your community for trying to improve your schools, you also need to show that you are organised and can work through the political system to exact a political price for their actions.
Remember - An MP who doesn't think you matter wont represent you and will look for the easiest political gain. Make sure its not at your expense!
As well as these you can lobby your MP on many other issues like:
- assylum seekers
- Prevent a war on Iran
- nuclear weapons
- child poverty
- stop Britain selling arms
- Extremist parties and groups
- Fairer taxation
- Voting reform
- University fees
When writing to your MP
- say who you are
- be polite and concise
- try to keep to one side of paper
- write in your own words
- write about one issue per letter
- tell them what you want them to do
- ask for a reply
You don't just have to write. You can also meet your MP in person.
When doing so:
- make an appointment
- go in a group of about 2-4 people
- know your subject
- send a letter of thanks after the meeting
To find out more: Look up your local MP on www.theyworkforyou.com and see if they're doing what you want them to be doing. Go to http://www.parliament.uk/about/how/members.cfm to see what is expected of MPs in the House of Commons.