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This country has one of the oldest established democratic systems in the world. This country, I am ashamed to admit, also has the most inferior system on the planet for informing people about it.
Parliament makes the laws, and tries to keep a check on Government. MPs are able to ask Parliamentary questions and can take part in debates. But the power of individual MPs is, in fact, extremely limited. They (like Doctors) are often assumed to possess God-like ability. This is nonsense. Usually the best any MP can do on behalf of constituents is to pass the problems on to the relevant authority. And the reason they spend so much time shifting paper is because the rest of us are so ignorant about how the system works, because we weren't properly taught about it at school. America teaches children how the Government functions, how Congressmen and Senators fit into the scheme of things. France, Germany, Italy ....everywhere in Europe.....offer children basic "constitutional lessons". We don't. Too few people know where real responsibilities lie. Too many people erroneously assume that MPs are (somehow) responsible for council housing, water rates, road transport, railways, airports....everything. Sorry folks, we're not. If you contact me with a grumble about council housing I will vigorously persue your case with the council concerned, and also contact your councillor ( but you might have got just as good a result contacting your councillor in the first place.....that's what they are there for).
There is, however, one advantage of having an MP tackle your case. Letters from MPs are "fast-tracked". So I can get in touch with a Minister or a council department official and YOUR problem, with the help of MY covering letter goes into a quicker in-tray! Sometimes, sadly, it still takes an age for MP to get the right answer. Sometimes the authorities can be very slow with me. So I cannot and will not promise the moon. I am only human. But as your MP I have a desire and duty to try.
But first things first ? Are you registered to vote ? If not you jolly well should be. It is an important democratic right. You need to fill in a form and send it back to the local council in the area where you live - either Sedgemoor or West Somerset. To find out more follow tis link: http://www.aboutmyvote.co.uk/
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The good thing about democracy is that YOU choose which party to support (if any!)
Here's a really useful link - to the e-mails and websites of ALL MPs !
And a few links to local authorities in the constituency. The following websites list all councillors.
Last of all, the European Parliament:
There are seven MEPs covering the ludicrously large South West England constituency. You can pick whichever one you fancy to contact, and they come in all shapes and sizes - Conservatives, Labour, Lib-Dem and UKIP too.
©2003,2004 Ian Liddell-Grainger. All rights reserved. www.somersetwest.org.uk