Incremental influence is often a hard thing to motivate ourselves for. It feels small, remote, and even powerless.
Right now however, politics is (to borrow from Al Pacino) a game of inches. And you have real influence over inches if you focus on what motivates your MP.
You Have Influence. Don’t Wait for a Vote
I have worked with MPs across parties and even in the safest seats in the country I know some of them worry about losing.
This is natural. Most MPs are motivated by a genuine belief they can be good for their constituents. Less generously, you can cast this in your own mind as them being motivated by status and money if you like, but the motivational effect is the same.
If you have a plan to make their seat safer, then write to them now because they will like it even if they don’t like it.
And right now, that plan is an electoral pact.
Electoral Pacts are Rare
Despite the UK electoral system creating obvious incentives for electoral pacts, they almost never happen because almost nothing is powerful enough to overcome party differences.
This is to be expected. If parties were much the same they would be one party. Their differences define and are defined by what they care most about.
We see this right now with the fake offer of a pact from the Brexit Party to the Conservatives. A pact that makes total sense to leave-motivated leavers completely defies Tory and Brexit Party outlook.
But on the rebel alliance side, things are different.
More That Unites us Than Remain
We wrote in the early summer that a remain electoral pact was too weak a concept for one to form, but that one would happen anyway because other things also unite remain parties.
Soon after, the exact pact we predicted was formed for the Brecon and Radnorshire by-election.
Across the rebel alliance there is a powerful convergence of interests. There is the agreement of a people’s vote, albeit the Lib Dems ideally want to just revoke and Labour won’t quite commit to remain. But there is so much more too.
From electoral reform and a green overhaul of the economy, right through to simply getting the Tories out, motivations are not far apart.
How to Use This?
For Remainers the real prize would be to ditch tactical voting for a pact that clears a path for a single candidate with the best chance of a positive remain outcome (in reality, a non-Tory government and thus a people’s vote).
For sitting rebel alliance MPs, this coincides with the strong motivation to protect their seat, their jobs, their staff and their constituents.
And sitting MPs will make the decision, not prospective candidates.
So Write to Them
There is good cause for cynicism about writing to MPs. Almost all letters and emails go no further than a staff member. But in almost all cases the staff member has the same motivations as the MP at an election, and for staff within the rebel alliance, the same motivation as you too.
Your letter may not reach the MP but the staff member can be convinced, and staff spend time with MPs. Also, if the staff member agrees, the letter is more likely to reach the MP anyway.
And writing to your MP has never been easier thanks to tools like Write To Them.
What to Say
Firstly, be nice. The MP is your friend and you are seeking to be their friend. So thank them for the work they do or a local policy or for voting down “no deal”.
Secondly, you are a constituent, so empower them to feel for you. Let them know you are scared about brexit, and about an ongoing Tory government. You have good cause to be and they will empathise.
Thirdly, offer your help. You have a solution. An electoral pact brings together so many possible benefits and it will help keep a good MP – your MP – too.
Finally, focus on safety. A pact should win every party involved more seats, so say that. But its first success will be retaining the seats held already. That is a strong motivation for sitting MPs and remain. So stress that.
Will it Work?
Do recognise that not every MP will feel the same, and of course pacts are difficult for all sorts of reasons. But right now you have influence, and you don’t need to wait for an election to use it.
*Thanks is due to one of our readers, Kate, for inspiring this article.