Visiting and writing are the most common ways people engage with MPs , but calling can also have a strong influence. This is particularly true when an important climate issue is in the spotlight – being debated in parliament, in the media, or in your community.
The advantage of calling is it’s immediate. You can pick up your phone and do it straight away! This means your MP will get your message sooner rather than later.
Like letters and emails, calls are taken very seriously and counted! As with written correspondence, it shows that you care strongly enough to take the time to call, and for everyone who calls, they know there are many more people who feel the same way. Some organisations (like ACF and GetUp) run targeted calling campaigns to government ministers or other MPs on specific issues where hundreds of people will call during a given period of time. One local MP said they value calls more highly than emails or letters - because if a constituent cares enough about something to pick up the phone, it must be important to them.
However, you are unlikely to speak directly to your MP when you call. Usually one of their staffers will answer the phone and offer to take a message. The staffer will write notes and your message will be passed on.
How to make your call:
It’s always useful to write a (very short) script for yourself so you deliver your message clearly and succinctly. In your call, explain why the issue matters to you and ask for the MP to commit to an action at the end of your call.
It’ll probably go a little like this:
Staffer: Hello, [MP’s name] office. Tom speaking. How can I help you today?
You: Hello, my name’s ….. I’m a voter in (name of electorate) and I’d like to speak to [the Prime Minister/Minister/MP’s name].
Staffer: I’m sorry he’s not here/unavailable at present. Can I take a message?
You: Yes please. Would you tell him I’m very unhappy about/feel very strongly about (…….) and I want to ask him to (…..) if he wants my vote in the next election.
Staffer: Thank you for your call. I’ll make sure [name] gets your message.
Sometimes the staffer might ask you questions or engage you in a conversation to find out more about your concerns, so you need to be prepared for that. It’s also possible (although very unlikely!) you’ll be put through and get to speak to the MP. But usually you’re asked to leave a message and the whole experience will be over in less than a minute.
You can view sample calling scripts here
If this is your first time and you’re nervous, you can practice by calling one evening or on a Sunday and leaving a message on the answerphone. Otherwise, just do it!
Don’t forget to let us know how it goes! Send a brief account (your script would be great too!) to firstname.lastname@example.org. We’ll remove any personal details before uploading it to the collection.