If, like me, you get wound up by the actions of our Government and feel powerless to change anything, maybe, just maybe we can. There are many, many more of “us” and very few of “them”. If we all start communicating with “them” then they might realise that “us” lot are not at all happy with their performances. Yes my main main sources of irritation with the UK Government relate to their treatment of Scotland and the desire for it to be independent, but there are many other reasons for writing to your MP. Take the whole sorry debacle which is Brexit. What we have to do is to get smart about this, to get organised, and, just as a suggestion – lets start a massive letter writing campaign. Let’s write a letter and an email every time there is something which is factually incorrect or is being ignored by the media. We should write to every Tory MP and MSP and copy the letters to every newspaper editor and make it clear to the politicians that the letter has been cc’d to the media. There are 14 MPs and 31 MSPs. There are about 15 newspapers of note and four television broadcasters, so lets say about 60 addresses for letters. You can make up a file for use in mailmerges for paper letters and I suggest we use the www.writetothem.com service for the emails. We’re all sitting at keyboards so there isn’t any reason why we can’t all start writing letters.
They say they work for us – so let’s keep them busy. This might be a small action, but if enough of us do this and they end up receiving hundreds of letters and emails every week then we will at the very least be making them work. We will also be creating solid facts to publicise if they fail to respond in a timely and courteous manner. We can share template letters – although we should make an effort to alter them to make them not all the same
Let’s make sure *we* are holding their feet to the fire.
Letters to the Editor
I’m grateful to a friend who wrote the guide at the end of this post on writing to the editors of the newspapers. This is another source of pressure for us to put on Government. I suggest you download this note and use it to guide you as you start writing.
If you are sending an email to a group of people and you don’t want each of them to know that it’s been sent to other recipients put their addresses in the ‘bcc’ field, not in the ‘to’ nor ‘cc’ fields.
Let’s do it. Let’s remind them that we expect them to be working for us every day, not just in the days before an election when they beseech us to vote for them.
Letter writing tips.
Dear Editor – A short guide to letter writing.
I’m sure I’m not the only one who has noticed an increase in anti-independence rhetoric from many in the mainstream media and from high profile politicians and commentators. This can take many forms, from strident Unionist MPs given ‘easy rides’ in political discussion programmes to skewed and misleading articles in newspapers. It seems every day brings with it another slew of SNP Bad stories – even more remarkable when the facts of the story are undeniably SNP Good stories! I’m sure we will all have our own examples. But there is a way we can address the more blatant scaremongering stories and badly reported stories. We can write to the Letters Page of what is left of the print industry. This is a great forum for confronting issues that get your blood boiling and putting forward a pro-independence and SNP point of view and moving the argument/discussion in a more positive direction. So with that in mind, I’ve drawn up a few pointers to help you in the art of letter writing.
Firstly, think on which paper you are going to contact. Each paper will have a different readership so tailor your letter accordingly and most importantly, don’t rant! You might feel churned up inside and really angry but a letter which comes over as rambling, angry, and ferocious will only find its way to the bin. Remember that one of the most important background players in the print industry is the lawyer. Anything remotely litigious or construed as a personal attack will not be printed. But there are ways around that. For instance, I had this printed in The Herald in 2014 “I notice that Culture Secretary Maria Miller is arguing that a Yes vote is a vote to leave the BBC. I think there are more reasons to vote Yes without the Rt Hon Member for Basingstoke offering up another one.” Just two sentences but it addresses a scare story, points out where Miller is an MP and gives the Yes movement a mention. Letters don’t necessarily have to be long and involved! In this case it addressed something that had been given plenty coverage and was written very quickly before the issue had gone away.
· You can actually start a conversation. If you have specialist knowledge or a keen interest in an issue, for instance wind farms, raptor poisoning or even what our National anthem should be, then fire in a letter to The Herald and The Scotsman. More localised issues should be directed to the Perthshire Advertiser, Blairgowrie Advertiser or your local paper.
· You can reply to a letter. Often the Letters Ed. Will ‘plant’ a letter that s/he knows will generate a lot of interest. Usually it will be a letter just on the right side of ‘a rant’ but this is ripe for replying to and getting over an SNP or Indy message. A classic of this sort would be the person who is repeating the old ‘Scotland would be lost without oil’. This is an easily destroyed argument and we should all be able to confront such nonsense!
· My favourite – address an issue a Labour or Conservative MP or MSP is stating as fact. The problem here is, of course, choosing which ill-informed MP or MSP to choose. I’d avoid choosing something Murdo Fraser has said as it is often difficult to see what you are writing through tears of laughter. Choose someone like the esteemed David Mundell who is a constant source of material. As I write (Feb 23rd) he is on record as saying Scottish tax rise will chase away immigrants. Blimey, where to start with that one. Firstly, there are no tax rises and secondly aren’t Tories clamouring FOR no immigration?
So, don’t let the stupidity of commentators who have little or no understanding of Scotland in general and the inability to look beyond their Better Together mentality get in the way of your well crafted letter.
The big problem might be that, like me, you refuse to buy a copy of any paper (except the National, of course) and you are wondering how to reply to something in the paper. I find Social Media is the place to go. You don’t have to have a Twitter account – you can follow certain ‘alternative media’ voices and rest assured if an article is causing outrage or wider discussion it will be there for all to read. All you do is write your letter as if you had bought an issue, just start ‘I see in your paper yesterday (date, headline or theme) that Joe Bloggs said..’ . I noticed on a Twitter feed that Patrick Harness had been granted a Thunderer column in The Times. What the paper and/or Harkness had left out from the CV was the fact he is a Director of Scotland in Union, a particularly nasty (but well financed) group of pro-UK voices. So I sent in a letter which started discussing his tone, which was bitter and divisive, before slipping in that such language ‘fits with his agenda as a Director of Scotland in Union’ before finishing off with a more positive view of Scotland. The Times had to mention this omission in the Clarification & Issues section the next day.
Don’t be put off. It is very easy and also helps with forming an argument which can be used when out canvassing. On a very positive note, I’ve noticed that there are more letters of a pro-independence tone leading the Letters Pages than ever before. I’d argue that this momentum has to continue as the anti-independence voices will only be getting louder. We have to counter all their arguments with facts, good sense and a little bit of humour. They know the tide of history is against them. The anger in their voices is there for all to hear. Let’s counter all the nay-sayers every way we can. So when you are next having a coffee break and are skimming the newspapers why not give letter writing a try?
Enjoy your letter writing.