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Tom Brake - 3 April 2023 Meeting Highlights - Sutton Amnesty

We were delighted to welcome Tom Brake, Carshalton and Wallington Liberal Democrat MP from 1997 to 2019 to give us a talk on 'How to lobby your MPs'. Tom is a Director of Unlock Democracy currently aiming to do just that by encouraging participation in light of the new 'Voter ID' requirements.  Tom has also worked as a freelance political consultant advising organisations on working with MPs and Government on human rights, ethics and environmental issues. Tom has been a long-time supporter of Sutton Amnesty.

Tom emphasised the importance of 'knowing your MP' and his interests as well as constraints (ministers for example have less flexibility). A good approach to an MP would be a polite email or letter from a constituent and comprise no more than three paragraphs with a clear 'ask'. In general a 'personal letter' is preferred but this can be outweighed by a number of standard letters showing wider concern. MPs are busy people potentially necessitating chasers (perhaps two at three week intervals) followed by a letter to the MPs Head of Office. Further escalation may then be appropriate.

MPs are more likely to respond positively where the issue is of concern to a number of constituents, the action required is straightforward and not counter to party policy. It also helps if it aligns with the MPS interests, experience or objectives. The best outcome would be the MP wanting to join or lead the campaign. More common would be obtaining a response from a relevant Minister. 

Urgent Actions

Three cases were addressed this month relating to the hostility towards NGO prevailing in Venezuela, the arbitrary arrest and mistreatment of Zhanargul Zumatai, an ethnic Kazakh women in China and likewise of Mahal Baloch in Pakistan.

Group members have also written to President el-Sisi of Egypt asking that the traditional Ramadan show of goodwill be extended towards Alaa Abdel Fattah. This was requested by Debora Singer and supported by Alaa's family.

Out and About

Group members have been active over the last month as follows:

  • Graham and Lyndon met Sutton and Carshalton MP Paul Scully on 21 April. They discussed the cases of Alaa Abdel Fattah and Dr Mohammed al-Roken, as well as the delicate balance between trade and human rights abuses. The meeting went well and Paul Scully was supportive.
  • Graham attended a large (c1000 people) demonstration in London in support of those seeking freedoms in Iran on 29 April and John a smaller one (c100 people) on 15 April.
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