Part One: Standing for Election

Part Two: In the States

Part Three: Everything Else

Do I Need To Reply To Every Email I Receive?

You’ll quickly figure out whether or not that’s possible. I think you could spend your whole life as a Deputy answering emails, and that isn’t necessarily the reason why you were elected, or the best way to serve the people who elected you. But that the same time, you want to treat the people who contact you with courtesy and respect.

I think the easiest way to manage this is to set some ground rules for yourself. Maybe put together a set of stock acknowledgments for emails – “Thank you. I’ve received your email, I’ll read it carefully and consider its contents before we vote.”; “Thank you. I want to help, but I’m very busy at the moment. I will reply to you more fully within a week. Please chase me if you haven’t heard anything by then.”; “Thank you. I’d be delighted to attend your event, and have put it in the calendar.”; “Thank you. I’m sorry, I won’t be able to attend on that date. Please keep me on your mailing list, and send me any recordings or presentations from the meeting – I would be pleased to catch up with it when I can.”

Having stock responses speeds you up a little. I was never much good at this, but I think it’s much better to acknowledge an email quickly and set reasonable expectations as to when you’re going to respond properly, instead of waiting until you’ve got time to sit down and address all the issues before you can start.

You will find that when you are about to debate a controversial policy letter, you get a whole flurry of emails from people who want to know your position and to tell you theirs. If you can spare the time, it’s really helpful to engage with these emails – it helps you to think through the arguments, to test and reconsider your own position, and to rehearse for debate. But you won’t always have that kind of time – sometimes you’re dealing with several big things at once; sometimes the volume of emails is just so great that you can’t possibly get through them. In those circumstances, whenever I could, I would write a blog post explaining where I stood on the debate (other people used Facebook or other kinds of social media posts for the same purpose) and share that with the people who contacted me. I would usually promise to read and consider their thoughts – and I did, and sometimes it changed the way I saw things – but I wouldn’t necessarily be able to engage each of them in debate.