The Conservative government works hard to give an impression of strength and determination: nothing we can say or do will stop it in its plans. And yet, over the last three years, there have been over 40 U-turns, of which the most notable was the ousting of Johnson, something that seemed impossible just 18 months ago. We can learn from that experience.

Given the enormous damage the Truss/Kwarteng Budget is poised to do to the UK, you may be wondering how we can stop them now.

The answer is surprisingly simple: write to your MP. Many people feel that writing to their MP is either daunting or pointless, but at a time like the present, neither is true:

  • When the government is secure, it is true, writing is both dispiriting and often ineffective;
  • When MPs fear for their personal prospects, writing is hugely effective – it is what finally did for Johnson;
  • Writing is surprisingly easy: it should only take you five minutes and the only thing you need to know is your own address.

When the government is secure, writing is dispiriting and ineffective

Usually, when you write a letter, getting a satisfactory response is important. But not now. You may have an MP who makes the experience of writing to him/her (deliberately) dispiriting – to discourage you from doing it.

Your MP may strive to create an impression that your letter has no effect. Assuming that you are writing to complain about a government policy or action, you are likely to receive a standard reply drafted by the party Central Office. This reply will probably not address your points in detail but will contain bland reassurances that the proposed policy or government action is entirely beneficial, and you should have no concerns about it.

When the government is secure – and in particular, when the MP to whom you have written feels secure – it is possible that your letter may genuinely have no effect. But right now, that is not the case.

When MPs fear for themselves, writing is hugely effective

Being an MP – particularly being an MP who has no real concern for his or her constituents – is a cushy, lucrative and high-status employment. Losing that job and having to earn money without the same opportunities for lucrative ‘consultancy’ roles is a disturbing thought. And the last couple of years have shown (think North Shropshire, Chesham and Amersham, Tiverton and Honiton, etc) that there is no longer such a thing as a safe seat. Any seat can be lost if the government and the incumbent are unpopular.

Right now, the government is hugely unpopular. So if you are the kind of MP to whom there was no point writing in the past – extreme right-wing, arrogant, dismissive, etc – you are far more likely to act now.

Johnson was removed from office, not because he was a liar (they all knew that); not because he broke the law; not because he had delivered such a poor performance on every metric; but because he was seen to have moved from being an electoral asset to an electoral liability. When MPs saw that their own seats were at risk if Johnson stayed, they moved quickly and decisively to get rid of him.

Right now, Truss and Kwarteng are threatening these MPs’ seats. The polls are already sending a message, and if MPs get a large number of letters from constituents saying “we will never vote Conservative unless Truss goes now” the message will be unmistakeable.

Do not be discouraged: remember that it was poor polling results and letters to MPs that got rid of Johnson.

Writing is surprisingly easy

And, for those who have never done it before, do not worry, these notes make it very quick and easy:

  • Introduce yourself as a constituent – and if you have never written before, say so: the fact that people other than ‘the usual suspects’ are writing to them concentrates an MP’s mind
  • be polite – don’t give them a reason to ignore the letter
  • Focus on a single issue – e.g. the cost-of-living crisis or the risk to personal pensions – and no more than two or three key points about your concerns
  • Make it personal –eg. “In the school where I teach, many children are half-starved.” and make it clear that you will never vote Conservative in the future if they do not act now, in the national interest
  • Be specific about the action you expect the MP to take – right now, we suggest: “Please now write to the Chairman of the 1922 Committee calling for a vote of no-confidence in the Prime Minister.”
  • Keep your letter short – half a page is ideal.

Actually writing to them is easy. This website will find all the details you need and even send your email for you: https://www.writetothem.com/ All you need to do is to prepare the text of your letter and paste it in.

Whether or not your MP is Conservative, you can write asking them to do all in their power to trigger a General Election, before the damage to the UK is too great.

And if you want any guidance, please contact Sophie on sophie.mcmanus@99-percent.org or Phil on phil.white@99-percent.org.