GUIDE TO VISITING MPS
Dress sensibly. You do not have to wear a suit or tie, but remember you are an ambassador for motorcycling and your MP or MEP may be prejudiced or badly influenced by an untidy state of dress. Make sure you do not antagonise him/her unnecessarily by wearing contentious badges or patches.
Plan what you want to say. Stick to one or a maximum of two topics. Get your facts straight, check with Central Office beforehand if necessary. Co-ordinate your local visits to avoid other MAG members in your group visiting separately and to ensure the stories are the same. Take someone with you for support, preferably someone with whom the MP might be sympathetic, e.g. a Road Safety Officer or a nurse. Discuss with your team who will do the talking on each issue and how the various points you want to raise can be brought up. Get the facts straight and ensure all the team has consistent views.
Timing. Ask right at the beginning of the interview how much time you have. Pace your discussion accordingly. You usually get 10-20 minutes. If you wish to record the interview, ask for the MPís permission first. If they refuse, do not make an issue out of it, some people find recording interviews a hostile act.
Get straight to the point. Deliver the facts concisely. Your MP is unlikely to know all the facts of the whole issue. Do not waste your time or your MPs time by telling anecdotes. Take MAG fact sheets along with you.
If possible do a practical demonstration with models or illustrations. Make sure this does not backfire, for example if talking about external vehicle control systems do not, at the end of the interview, ride off at full throttle. (Especially if you have failed to keep your bike maintained etc.)
Give the MP PRACTICAL ARGUMENTS to back up your points. Do not try to bamboozle them. Practice these arguments with the team beforehand to get your arguments clear, concise and hard hitting.
If the MP makes a point or two be careful if you agree with him. It is easy to get carried along agreeing with certain little points before being sucked into agreeing on a major issue that is quite opposite to your intentions. Listen carefully before agreeing or replying.¬ If your MP is straying from the point you wish to make, pull them back to the facts.
Frequency of meetings - These will depend on the attitude and response you get from your MP. Ensure they are co-ordinated and not too frequent.
Find out about your MP in advance. This can be checked out in the local library, look for the ďėTIMES GUIDE TO MPsĒ or contact the Parliamentary Officer who will have a record of replies your MP will have sent to other people in the past. Check on their likes/dislikes, what he/she voted for/against (you never know, he might have voted against seat belt compulsion). Check on their majority.
Try to GET A POSITIVE STATEMENT ON THE ISSUE you are raising. Ask if you can do a press release on the meeting you have held with them. However be prepared for a negative answer in the first instance, but in any case keep a record of all your regionís meetings between reps and members and the MPs. Send a copy of your meeting notes to the Public Affairs Director at Central Office. It's important that we update the overall picture of MPsí views so that we know where our support lies.
FOLLOW UP your meeting with a letter of thanks for the meeting and answer any points the MP raised which were left unanswered.
Remember the PURPOSE of the meeting is to elicit a response from your MP on motorcycling issues.
Always be courteous, even if you cannot respect them or their politics and whether or not you voted for them.
Build up a good working relationship with your MP through regular, but not too frequent, meetings.