The letters are working. Twelve days ago I met with my MP: ‘Ah, the letters’ was almost the first thing she said. ‘We’ve all been having a lot of them, and we’ve all been on to the Home Office to get the policy changed. What are you hearing? They haven’t changed it?’ Policy is going to change, but slowly. There’s a distinct lack of speed.
What I’m hearing from soldiers who have hired Iraqi employees, and who are now in contact with these people as they flee to Syria and Jordan, or hide out in Basra, is: lack of speed is killing. One ex-Royal Engineer told me on the phone last night about a man he recruited in 2003 who hoped to build a new Iraq, then fled the country, and then was murdered at some point in the last few weeks.
What can you do?
If you’ve already written to your MP, write or email him or her again: and this time, invite them to a speaker meeting at Parliament on the second day of the new session, Tuesday 9th October.
If you haven’t already written to your MP, please do so. You can find out about your MP here. utline what’s happening and why we should be concerned, ask them to contact the relevant Ministries (particularly the Home Office but also the Ministry of Defence and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office) and also invite them to the meeting. Talking points for both letters are below. Any blogger who has participated in this campaign is invited, and so is any blogreader who successfully invites their MP: just email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and an invitation will be heading your way. Stress to MPs that mainstream print and TV journalists will be present: that is the kind of thing that tends, for some reason, to attract them. And stress that this is the first blog-based campaign in the UK: this is how politics is going, and they need to see what it looks like.
Talking points for an invitation letter- if you’ve already corresonded with your MP on this subject:
- The Government has not yet altered policy, despite calling an inter-departmental review, and in the meantime Iraqis who worked for the British are successfully being hunted down by death squads.
- There will be a cross-party meeting, organised by the online campaign for Asylum rights for Iraqi employees. It will take place in Parliament in Committee Room 14 (St Stephen’s Entrance) from 7-9pm on Tuesday 9th October. Please arrive early to avoid hideous disappointment, etc.
- The main speaker will be a British soldier who hired a number of Iraqis and is in contact with many of them now, including many who have fled Iraq ahead of the death squads: he will give an up-to-date, detailed picture of events on the ground.
- There will also be speeches by Ed Vaizey (Conservative MP for Wantage, Spokesman for Culture, Media and Sport) and Lynne Featherstone (Liberal Democrat MP for Hornsey and Wood Green, Spokeswoman for International Development), and by at least one senior Labour backbencher.
- Stress this: It will be reported by Channel Four News and probably other TV news organisations, BBC Radio Four and Radio Five Live, and by reporters and columnists from The Times, The Guardian, The Financial Times, The Evening Standard, The New Statesman, The Observer and The Evening Standard.
- The event is supported by Amnesty International, The Refugee Council and Human Rights Watch, who will all have people present.
To write a first letter on this subject to your MP:
Use these talking points, then give them the location and timing of the meeting, and don’t forget to tell them about the TV crews.