An MSP is just one cog in the political ecosystem. I have some power to effect change, especially in particular areas. However, it is important to recognise that Holyrood, Westminster and even council chambers are not the only places where decisions are made and change begins.
Individuals and communities have power. They are often prevented from exercising it, both by the existing structures and by a lack of belief in that power.
Below, I have listed some actions you can take to improve the world around you. I anticipate that this list will continue to grow.
If you are interested in more methods of nonviolent action, take a look at the Albert Einstein Institution’s page here.
#1 Write an email
Writing emails to your MP, your MSP or to a government minister is an unappreciated but important way of taking action. You can use campaign websites to generate emails on issues important to you, but a personal message often has more power.
Why are emails so important? Because part of the job of an elected politician is to listen to their constituents. A politician is contactable. Their email address is publicly available. They will most likely have staff members who read and respond to written correspondence. If a message captures the attention of a politician, they may well take an interest in your issue.
#2 Work together
Find people who share your common cause. That could be on social media, or through a formal grouping such as a pressure group or trade union.
#3 Sign a petition
Official petititions on parliamentary websites, if they get enough signatures, will go through a formal process that can include being debated by MPs or MSPs a committee.
#4 Challenge a government decision
Any individual or group can challenge a government decision. This includes decisions made by central government, local government or certain other bodies that perform public functions.
It is difficult, time consuming and potentially very expensive, but it can be done. Find out more on the Institute for Government’s website or read the Public Law Project’s introduction to judicial review. You must seek legal advice if you intend to challenge a government decision using judicial review.