Make sure your candidate speaks up for MS: tips from Charlotte Nichols MP

Tuesday 26 March 2024

This week, Charlotte Nichols joined us for our campaign training session on influencing decision makers.

Charlotte is the member of parliament (MP) for Warrington North and Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for MS. With a general election on the horizon, we wanted to hear from an MP about the best ways to influence our local candidates. Read on to find out Charlotte’s top tips to get MS on your candidates’ agendas.

This election is a huge opportunity for the MS community

Charlotte described the upcoming general election as a ‘true reset point’ that could mean major developments for MS across government. Now is our chance to make sure challenges faced by people living with MS are at the forefront of candidates’ agendas. And ask them to commit to championing positive change for the MS community. 

Your own story has impact 

One point that came up repeatedly was the value of personal experience. Charlotte emphasised:

The most important tool you have when meeting with a candidate is your own story.
Charlotte Nichols MP

We know MS can be different for everyone, and some candidates might be less aware of what life with MS is like. That’s why it’s crucial that we draw attention to the daily realities of living with MS. 

The power of meeting in person 

Charlotte recommended us that meeting in person with candidates holds a lot of weight. Where possible, this is the best method for raising your concerns. Whether meeting them in surgery or at a hustings event, speaking with your candidate face–to-face helps to ‘make your query a top priority’. 

What to do when you haven’t had a response 

It can be difficult to know how to deal with a lack of response from a local MP or candidate. How much can we reasonably chase them? What can we do when we haven’t heard back?

Charlotte advised:

It’s always ok to keep chasing and hold them accountable.
Charlotte Nichols MP

Emails can easily get missed, so definitely send follow-ups if you haven’t heard back within a month. She suggested that if this isn’t working, contact them via social media. If all else fails, a public message can give a final push!

What can your candidates do for you?

Charlotte explained that now is the best time to ask candidates to make a pledge to support the MS community – ‘once they’re elected, you can then hold them accountable for that promise’. A great example would be urging your candidate to commit to joining the APPG for MS!

Once elected, an MP’s biggest power is convening: the power to draw certain decision makers together and push them to move crucial issues forward. This can really help ensure progress for the MS community.

We’d like to hear from you how we can best support you in your own campaigning work ahead of the election. Please take a minute to let us know by filling out the short form below.

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You can also contact us at [email protected] if you have any queries.