making a positive nuisance of yerself

There’s plenty of depressing things we here at MCFly Towers could and will be blogging about (after all, the Tory Party Conference has been in town, complete with bait-and-switch libertarian loons). But that can wait a while- right now, something positive, constructive and upbeat is worth bigging up, namely Manchester Oxfam‘s latest “how to” training session.

This one (see here for the blog about last month’s one on social media/campaigning) was about lobbying, especially of MPs.

It was led by Chris Worrall (Oxfam) and Clare (sp?) Regan, researcher for the estimable Tony Lloyd, chair of the Parliamentary Labour Party, and MP for Manchester Central.

The evening kicked off without the “turn to the person behind you and have a chat” technique that costs nothing but makes these events come alive. But anyway, I digress… After an introduction of the speaker, there was a presentation/discussion of what lobbying is (expressing an opinion, influencing politicians, achieving change) , with questions from the audience skilfully and carefully answered by the two speakers. It then went into brainstorming of examples from the floor- cycle paths, Iraq war, music licences, pot holes, home schooling etc.

After a quick comfort break, we were then broken into three groups and given the task of coming up with some “good practice” on lobbying (dos and don’ts etc)

Here’s the list I jotted down (I’ve tried to minimise repetition)

  • Media stunt (so MP gets photo opportunity)
  • Do your homework
  • Ask for specific action by specifity time
  • Have numbers and diversity behind you (not vital, said the researcher)
  • Go in pairs/threes
  • Anticipate their response and have next line ready (role play)
  • Timing- hook it to a big event/decision crunch time
  • Be succinct
  • Stick to thepoint
  • Don’t get andry
  • Say thankyou
  • Schmooze back
  • “Praise sandwich”
  • Follow-up meeting to show you’re not going away, are learning and watching
  • “Think around” the brick walls- do something else if plan A not working
  • Sell it to your MP
  • Match it to the MPs political interests/tailor the case
  • Persistence
  • Research
  • Address it to multiple MPs
  • Bold clear statement
  • Clear easy steps for them to follow
  • Either email or letter
  • state personal experience/involvement

There was a brief plenary, and feedback forms handed out (this is Good Practice!). And people were invited to take a copy of Call to Real Action’s “2020 vision” survey, which can be filled in online (follow the link).

So, the next one of these is in early November, and it’s on Gender. Will definitely be worth attending. In case anyone is put off going because they fear Oxfam will put the hard word on them to sign up/donate/handover email contact details etc etc, I can say that this is NOT the case. They are welcoming, dedicated but not “in your face” about joining their work.

(Disclaimers- the author is not a member of any political party, and dislikes the whole idea of “the Wave” that Oxfam is bigging up. Regardless, Lloyd’s researcher and Oxfam deserve major kudos for putting this on. Just a pity more Manchester-activists don’t come along and learn from these things, and share their own experiences)


About dwighttowers

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