The following is an archived copy of a message sent to a Discussion List run by the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq.

Views expressed in this archived message are those of the author, not of the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq.

[Main archive index/search] [List information] [Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq Homepage]

[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index]

[casi] On writing to MPs, in the light of Milan Rai's message

Dear Listmembers,

Debate on strategy has its place on our list I think, especially at this
moment when, as Milan Rai argues, we need to step up
our efforts at building opposition to war on Iraq. So here are my
thoughts about writing to MPs. I believe that it isn't likely that a MP
who supports sanctions/war will change their mind
as a result of letters, rational debate, presentation of evidence etc. --
I share Diarmuid's pessimism here. The filtering process whereby they get
to be where they are means that, with a small number of honourable
exceptions, they are by now mostly impervious to reason on any issue
where there is a strict and tightly managed ``party line.'' Nevertheless,
I think that letters to MPs _are_ a useful thing to do and
Diarmuid's letter will have had a good effect. The reason is that
though we can't (by-and-large) influence policy by appealing to the
compassion of the policymakers (though we should appeal to the
compassion of ordinary people and also make it clear that _we_ are
motivated by compassion) we can influence it by making it not worth
their while politically. We have to build a situation where they know
that if they attack Iraq the political costs here -- i.e. politically
damaging protest -- will be too high. The Voices UK Pledge (that you can
sign to say that if the UK attacks Iraq you will engage in or support
non-violent civil disobedience) is a good example.
The last thing the Government wants is a roused and actively dissenting
population and they'll curb their actions if it looks like they might
provoke too much protest. And, as Milan says, if Blair can be held
back, Bush will have to think twice.

The lack of democracy at all levels means that MPs have very
little influence on the executive but they're a useful conduit
to communicate our dissent to the people really running the show.

Best wishes,


On Thu, 4 Jul 2002, Diarmuid wrote:

> I appreciate that here is not the best place to debate this. However, as a
> couple of points have been raised by other posters, I would like to explain
> myself.
> My scepticism about writing to MPs stems from the political convictions I
> have. The idea that they take us seriously is one that fails to convince me.
> Tom Levitt's reply (a mere paragraph at the end of a letter addressing
> another point I had raised in another letter) was a case in point. I had
> asked him to lobby the government on my behalf. As my elected
> representative, surely his job is to represent my views to the policy
> makers. He politely refused to do that.
> I think that most MPs (and, most certainly, the government of this country)
> flout a marked disregard for the democratic process and the views of the
> people they are supposed to represent. They labour under the illusion that
> once elected they can do whatever they like with the proviso that they walk
> somewhat more guardedly around election time.
> The real value, as I see it, of writing to the buggers is to confront them
> with the horrors that their cynicism has on the lives of people who have
> done them no harm. There is always the hope that the humanity which lies
> beneath the surface will be touched. And that hope is somewhat faded.
> _______________________________________________
> Sent via the discussion list of the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq.
> To unsubscribe, visit
> To contact the list manager, email
> All postings are archived on CASI's website:


+  Fay Dowker                       Physics Department               +
+                                   Queen Mary, University of London +
+  E-mail:       Mile End Road,                   +
+  Phone:  +44-(0)20-7882-5047      London E1 4NS.                   +
+  Fax:    +44-(0)20-8981-9465                                       +
+  Homepage:          +

Sent via the discussion list of the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq.
To unsubscribe, visit
To contact the list manager, email
All postings are archived on CASI's website:

[Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq Homepage]