If you’ve ever got an issue or point of view to raise with a British minister, it works best to write to your MP and ask them to raise it with the minister rather than write direct to the department yourself.
The reason for this is quite simple: when the MP writes to the minister on your behalf, their letter gets handled at a much more senior level than if you write direct to the ministry. Indeed, it’s the norm for the Minister to personally sign the response back if your concern has gone in via your MP. By contrast, write to the department direct and a more junior member of staff will handle the reply.
Hence when moved recently by the latest atrocities carried out by those the Russians are backing in Syria, I decided to ask my MP to raise my concerns over Russian behaviour with the Russian ambassador. As a bonus, my MP is the leader of a British political party, so good odds, I hoped, that asking him to raise an issue with the Russian ambassador would trigger at least a brief moment of senior attention.
Except… that three times I’ve asked my MP and three times he’s declined to raise any concerns over Russia’s actions in Syria with the Russian ambassador.
The first time I wrote to Jeremy Corbyn, for he is my MP, I got a long reply back about Syria, but one which ignored my request for him to raise my concerns with the ambassador.
Perhaps that was just a mistake with a stock reply on Syria in general sent off in haste back to me? So twice more I asked, thanking for the reply but pointing out the absence of a response to my request regarding the ambassador. And twice silence resulted.
Russian is not the only player in Syria deserving of international pressure, of course. But nor is it an innocent on the side of goodness. Look at Amnesty International’s campaigning for example: UN must intensify scrutiny of Russia’s role in Syria.
Yet as far as Jeremy Corbyn is concerned, having a constituent ask that concerns over Russian’s behaviour be raised with the ambassador isn’t a call to campaign for human rights that he is willing to support. Instead, it’s something he repeatedly refused to do.