After 13 years of underfunding, the NHS is in crisis. The government seems determined to ignore the wishes of the UK population to preserve the NHS as a high-quality healthcare system free at the point of use. John Major’s comment sums up the government’s approach:
“The concept that [they] would care for the National Health Service is a rather odd one: Michael Gove wanted to privatise it; Boris wanted to charge people for using it; and Iain Duncan Smith wanted a social insurance system. The NHS is about as safe with them as a pet hamster would be with a hungry python.”
Given the enormous damage the government is doing to the NHS, 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 and Truss;
- 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
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.
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 their seats, 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. The same was true of Truss.
Right now, the state of the NHS is, along with the cost-of-living crisis, one of people’s top concerns. We can make sure that our MPs are fully aware of that.
Do not be discouraged: remember that it was the combination of poor polling results and letters to MPs that got rid of Johnson and Truss.
Writing is surprisingly easy
For those who have never done it before, do not worry, these notes make it very quick and easy – it should take you less than 5 minutes:
- 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 the NHS – keep focussed so they cannot dodge the issue, and keep it very brief – half a page or less is ideal.
- Make it personal –eg. “My neighbour has diabetes; if the NHS fails, she will be uninsurable – and she cannot afford to fund her own treatment” 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 something along these lines, but in your own words: “I want to see you demanding urgent action to resolve the NHS crisis, not to hear platitudes about affordability”
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.