The following is an archived copy of a message sent to a Discussion List run by the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq.
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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, Fay 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 http://lists.casi.org.uk/mailman/listinfo/casi-discuss > To contact the list manager, email firstname.lastname@example.org > All postings are archived on CASI's website: http://www.casi.org.uk > -- PLEASE NOTE CHANGE OF MY EMAIL TO: email@example.com ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++ + Fay Dowker Physics Department + + Queen Mary, University of London + + E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Mile End Road, + + Phone: +44-(0)20-7882-5047 London E1 4NS. + + Fax: +44-(0)20-8981-9465 + + Homepage: http://monopole.ph.qmw.ac.uk/~dowker/home.html + ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++ _______________________________________________ Sent via the discussion list of the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq. To unsubscribe, visit http://lists.casi.org.uk/mailman/listinfo/casi-discuss To contact the list manager, email email@example.com All postings are archived on CASI's website: http://www.casi.org.uk