Can you help us challenge election candidates on maternity issues?

on 13 June 2024

Did you see the clip of Foreign Secretary and former Prime Minister Lord Cameron speaking into the camera of a voter’s video doorbell, urging them to back the candidate he was out campaigning with? It summed up pretty well how election campaigns are the great humbler.

For a few weeks every few years, those accustomed to holding and exercising power go door to door to ask for our votes. That is because for this short time the power is in our hands, not theirs. A word to the wise: use this time, use your power.

Here at the RCM we would love for you to use this moment to ask parliamentary candidates about the RCM’s three clear asks of them, which you will find in the dedicated general election section of our website, but you can use it to raise whatever issues are most important to you.

What are some ideas about how to use this moment? Well, you may have someone knock on your door, like the person in the video who had David Cameron turn up. Or someone may call you on the telephone, or you may bump into campaigners in the street who want to speak to you. Some, tired of politics, may be tempted to close the door or put down the phone on them, but we’d ask you not; apart from anything else, it’s a tad rude.

Instead, engage them in conversation. Talk to them about the need for more midwives and the impact of that shortage on your local maternity service, the level of debt that student midwives have to build up, or another issue that is most meaningful to you. If you are happy to do so, share information with them about how it really impacts on you personally. Ask them specifically about what their party would do to help, and what - if elected - a candidate will do to raise these issues in the House of Commons. If the person you are speaking to is a volunteer rather than the candidate, ask for the candidate to get back to you with their answers.

Not all of us will be canvassed, but we can all still get in touch with the candidates standing in our area. You can find who they are and contact details using sites like Candidates Portal or by searching for the candidates’ websites and social media accounts.

Email them - and email all of them to be fair - and put your questions to them. Be polite, but ask for specific answers from the candidate, and ask them not just for their views but what they will *do* about it, if elected. Again, it would be great if you raised the RCM’s three clear asks (see our website), but add as much information and detail about your local area as possible.

In many areas there will be hustings events, where all or most of the candidates appear and answer questions. If you hear about any, please try and get along; use the opportunity to challenge all the candidates directly and in a public forum. Some candidates also organise events where they invite local voters and come and hear from just them.

Some local TV and radio stations organise Q&A phone-ins about the election; give them a call. Write to your local newspaper.

If you need some ideas of the kinds of things you may want to ask, here are three examples. But ask about the issues that are most important to you, and especially if there is a local angle.

“The NHS is struggling to retain midwives. What does your party propose to do about that? Part of the problem is the level of NHS pay, so do you and your party support giving NHS staff, like midwives, decent, above-inflation pay rises every year until the next election?”

“Black and Asian women are more likely to die in childbirth than white women. That is unacceptable. What would your party do in government to eliminate these differences and by when? And will you raise this issue in Parliament?”

“Student midwives graduate with appalling levels of debt. What practical steps would your party take to address this? And will you raise this issue in Parliament?”

Please let us know if any candidates say anything helpful or important, especially if it something you think we might want to pick up with them if they are elected. You can email us directly at [email protected]

You may not get a former Prime Minister knocking on your front door before polling day on 4 July, but that doesn’t mean you can’t help nudge things in the right direction by using this moment to speak up and be heard.