How do you get your voice heard in Westminster? Barry Sheerman MP, a co-chair of the Associate Parliamentary Sustainable Resource Group, sheds some light on communicating effectively with parliamentarians.
The political system in the UK is an intricate interplay of legislative and executive power. The checks and balances that exist to challenge the Government in Parliament include a varied set of committees, as well as Parliamentarians themselves.
This can be confusing for any industry looking to get their voices heard by politicians. It is even more difficult when the message you are trying to get across is to do with a complex and technical industry, such as the waste and resource management industry.
Having said that, waste is an issue many MPs will have to deal with at some point during their parliamentary tenure. Waste collection is a core issue for many constituents and is voiced as a common concern during constituency surgeries. Many MPs also have waste facilities in their constituencies and take a keen interest when new ones are proposed.
There is also an important message associated with the waste industry: it is a key component of the green economy, driving job creation and green growth. A clear understanding of the basic challenges facing waste and resource management is therefore extremely important. But how can this be communicated effectively?
Clarity is obviously essential. Parliamentarians deal with a myriad of national and international issues on a daily basis; we need to know facts quickly and in as concise a format as possible. The broader picture also helps. For example, why does waste matter? What is the value of waste and how can it contribute to UK plc?
Framing issues around such questions enables sustainable resource management to be seen as part of the solution to a wider problem, such as the delivery of a green economy. Setting it in a wider context also increases the likelihood of reaching a wider parliamentary audience.
Social media has opened up a wealth of instant conversation between parliamentarians and industry. Questions can be answered in a matter of minutes, and allows for both parties to communicate to a much wider audience.
There is a lot to be said for targeting communication with parliamentarians who have an established interest in waste and sustainability. However, getting new MPs involved is also necessary.
The Associate Parliamentary Sustainable Resource Group exists as a forum for debate between policymakers, parliamentarians and industry. Its events and policy output provide an excellent opportunity for Parliamentarians to get involved with the key concepts of waste.
Do not be afraid to engage with parliamentarians. We need to hear your messages and your opinions on what the Government is doing well, and where it could improve, in order to improve policy. Furthermore, working with us and submitting evidence to select committees lets us challenge the Government on crucial areas.
Good effective policy depends on Parliament and Government listening to people who know about their sector. Good policy will not happen without their active involvement. Many of the issues around communicating effectively will be discusses at RWM’s Communications Hub. We welcome your thoughts.