And so it is over. After months of fact-finding, and weeks of planning, the Parliamentary Reception has taken place at the House of Commons in London.
The idea began as a germ when I met with Mary Southcott back in the beginning of the summer. “Madeline Moon suggested that we could hold a Parliamentary Reception” she told me, on a train to London. Mary works within the Palace of Westminster and knows many influential M.P.s and government ministers. She had met Madeline the previous week and sought to enlist the help of Madeline.
“What’s that?” I asked.
“It’s just that. We hold a Reception for M.P.s and try and get them along so that we can tell them about the problems that our members are experiencing.
“Why should they attend?”
“Well, what you could do is to get your members to write to their M.P. and ask him or her to attend the Reception. That way they might feel obliged to attend?” said Mary.
I taught academic politics for twenty years, was an examiner for A-Level Government and Politics and had been a campaign manager for prospective holders of public office. Yet I had never heard of a Parliamentary Reception. Mary’s eyes twinkled. “We could even get an Early Day Motion tabled and ask our members to ask their M.P. to sign it.
I knew what an Early Day Motion (E.D.M.) was and is. Basically it is a call made by a backbencher
who calls for a motion (or subject) to be debated at an “early day” – that is in the very near future. They stand almost no chance whatsoever of being debated in full by the House of Commons, but they can be used to gather support of backbenchers to a cause. I knew that if we could get ten, maybe twenty, backbench M.P.s to support an E.D.M. then it would be grist to our mill.
“Who could we get to table the E.D.M?” I naively asked.
“We could get my daughter’s M.P., he knows of her plight and the difficulty she has had in getting diagnosed. Indeed she is still not diagnosed”.
I knew that we were onto something.
And so the scene was set for the society to get, for the first time, an enquiry into the Symptoms, Diagnosis and Treatment of Pernicious Anaemia reviewed. We agreed that the Review I had published would form the basis of the E.D.M. and we would make arrangements for the Parliamentary Reception to be held.
And so it was that, for the greater part of the summer of this year I was preoccupied with organising the E.D.M. and Reception. Liaising with Madeline and Mary was not easy as both are very busy people. But slowly, the plot came together and our members were involved in asking them to write to their M.P. using a template of a letter that we produced. We then produced a Fact-sheet to brief M.P.s about our cause, then produced a Statement written by me, and we then started to compile a list of ‘Pub-Facts’ that could be used as sound bites to gather interest in our cause.