CILIPS Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals in Scotland
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Guide to Lobbying

CILIPS recognises that many of our members are keen to engage with their political representatives or support other to do so when issues of concern arise.  As an organisation we also understand that politicians are likely to give more attention to approaches from a concerned constituent than from an organisation because they are sensitive to the opinion of their electorate.

Anyone can lobby but some employers may place restrictions on lobbying activity. So make sure you have checked your terms of employment and any guidance issued by your employer before you start and that you represent yourself at all times as a private individual/CILIPS member.

Who do I lobby?

First, you need to identify the level of government you need to lobby.  If you are lobbying on a local issue, you need to know what the responsibilities of  your Council are. If the Council doesn’t have the power to resolve the issue, you need to know what responsibilities have been devolved to the Scottish Parliament, and which have been reserved by the UK Parliament. So you will be approaching a Councillor, an MSP, MP or, for some issues, an MEP. Know who represents you at all levels of Government.

Members who live in Scotland are represented at Westminster by their MP and by Members of the Scottish Parliament (MSPs) based in Edinburgh. Anybody living in Scotland has one constituency MSP and 7 regional MSPs.  Both MSPs and regional MSPs have a duty to represent you.

You can find out the name of your MP, constituency  MSP and regional MSPs  by visiting TheyWorkForYou and entering your postcode. As well as helping you to discover the people who represent you, this website allows you to view their profiles, see how they vote, and send a message directly to them.

Elected Council representatives can usually be found on the relevant  website for the local authority.

How can a MSP help?

MSPs can help by:

  • Tabling questions to government
  • Meeting or writing to Ministers
  • Initiating debates and putting forward your views in other forums e.g. committees

How do I lobby? 

  • Get prepared

Political representatives value information from constituents presented in a concise way so your lobbying will be most effective if you prepare in advance.  Draw up a  list of the key points you want to get across, and make sure you address all of them. It is also important to ensure that you have done your research and have evidence to support your points. These could come from recent studies and relevant official documents.

  • Write a brief letter

Write a letter to your MSP(s) about your concerns, about the issue you would like their support to address, or about anything you want to draw their attention to. Make sure to include the following:

  1. Your contact details;
  2. A clear heading identifying the subject you want to address;
  3. An initial paragraph introducing yourself and the issue;
  4. Clear and concise examples and evidence;

End the letter with a question in order to engage them in a conversation and so that they have to send a reply rather than a simple acknowledgement.

  • Ask for a meeting

Identify yourself as a constituent and ask for a meeting with your  representative. It is important to get prepared for nay meeting in advance and ensure you are clear on all the points you want to make and the evidence that supports them. Be positive, concise and clear about what you are asking them to do. Additionally, when highlighting an issue it is also good to suggest a solution. Make notes prior to the meeting on all of the points that you will raise and leave it with the representative to ensure they have written information and a record of the meeting. Afterwards, send them a note of thanks and keep CILIPS informed of the meeting and the points discussed in case there is any follow up activity needed from us.

  • Keep in touch

Whether you have written to or met-up with your representative, the key is to keep in touch in order to develop your relationship with them and ensure your issues are kept on their agenda. Always keep them up-to-date with any developments and ask them to keep you informed too.

Meaningful engagement

Make an effort to understand your representative and how they vote. Check whether your representative has spoken on the same or a similar issue in the past, and if so note their views on the issue and the points they highlighted as important. As well as this, make an effort to get to know your representative by attending meetings and asking questions on issues that concern you. This will allow you to better connect with them and get your point across effectively, using language that is meaningful to them.

It is also helpful to understand any wider issues affecting the constituency and to link your current concerns to these. For example, perhaps you can demonstrate how a library service that is under threat contributes to the economic development of the local area or combats loneliness and isolation in a constituency where these social issues are prevalent.

Lastly, be clear and concise, use language that your representative and the local community can relate to and avoid any acronyms of abbreviations that might be unfamiliar to a politician.

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