As well as voting there are loads of other ways you can get involved in British Politics.
Joining a party – If you really like and agree with one particular party, you can become a party member. Usually for a small monthly or one off fee you will receive extra news about the party, be invited to local focus groups to share ideas and feedback, attend their national party conference and also help them campaign in your local area.
Contacting your MP – A great way to get more involved with politics, or to simply discuss a problem. The MP from your constituency, whether you voted for them or not, work for you. That means even if you don’t agree with them politically, they still have a duty to help you. If you have a problem, something in your local area or even nationally is causing you concern, then MPs have numerous things they can do to improve your situation. Whether you want your MP to voice a problem publicly, solve it privately or simply to bring something to their attention, MPs are often much happier than you would think to help you! You can contact your MP through both email and telephone (details can be found on their website) or discuss something face to face in local surgeries. Do note though that some issues are not the direct responsibility of Parliament or government. In these instances, you should first contact either your local council or your nearest Citizens Advice Bureau before considering contacting your MP. MPs are more able to help you with issues that Parliament or government are responsible for.
Writing a letter – If you are unhappy with how something locally or even nationally is being run, or want to provide feedback and comments, you can write to your local council or relevant department. You can find the details of the relevant body on the gov.uk website or your local council website.
Pressure groups – Pressure groups are organised groups of people who come together outside of a government, who share common interests or beliefs and wish to influence the decisions and policy of government and other public bodies. Pressure groups either represent different sections of society (e.g. teachers), or a specific belief (e.g. against fox hunting). You can sign up to pressure groups (often for a small fee), sign their petitions, discuss issues at local meetings, and even join national demonstrations.
Petitions – If you feel strongly about something in society, petitions are a great way to show public support for your cause. They are also a great way to influence government and parliament as a petition with over 100,000 signatures is considered in the Commons for a debate. E-petitions are a very easy way to gain lots of signatures, on the internet. You can start your own petition or add you signature to current petitions that you agree with on the E-petitions website. 38 degrees is another widely used e-petitions website.
Parliament Committee Inquiry – Select Committees work in both Houses. They check and report on areas ranging from the work of government departments to economic affairs. When a Select Committee launches a new inquiry they often request written evidence from interested parties. A call for evidence is often published at the same time as the terms of reference for the inquiry. The Committee will use this written evidence to help shape their inquiry. To see current open calls for evidence follow the link.
Government Consultations – You can give your views on new or changing government policies by responding to consultations. Government departments take these responses into consideration before making decisions. To see open consultations follow the link.