How to write a Motion
Here are some tips on getting your motions noticed and selected.
Make sure your motion is topical and concise. Your motion is more likely to be selected by the Regional Committee if it comes with a call for action that the Region can support, and the Executive Committee (EC) can implement.
In general, a motion is more likely to be selected if:
- It contains genuinely new and interesting proposals.
- Is on a subject where there is a lack of policy, and which hasn’t been debated recently.
- Is on a subject of major political or industrial importance.
- Is likely to lead to an interesting debate, with speakers both for and against.
It is less likely to be selected if:
- It is a repeat of old policies with nothing new to say.
- It is on a subject which has been debated recently.
- It is unlikely to lead to a good debate. For example, if it is so uncontroversial that no one will want to disagree with anything in the motion.
When writing your motion, make sure it is:
- Topical, accurate and concise.
- Comprehensible and logical.
- Likely to prompt good debate.
- In a subject area on which it is desirable for the MU to develop or change policy.
Motions should be clear statements that cover:
- The problem that needs to be solved (welcomes, regrets, deplores, denounces).
- The principle that underlies the solution (reaffirm, recognise, declare).
- The proposal at the heart of the motion (affirms, believes, recommends, urges).
The best motions are structured as follows:
- A description of the issue or problem, which the motion seeks to address.
- The principle(s) which underlie the solution.
- A description of any existing policies, which will contribute to the solution.
- The further policy proposals, which normally conclude the motion and are its most important element.
A common reason for motions not being selected is because they contain criticisms and a detailed description of the problem, but are unclear or fail to make positive policy recommendations.
Proposals are usually introduced by “members call for”, but you could also use “recommend”, “propose”, “urge”, “demand”, “insist”, or “resolve”.
- Choose issues that are topical and new and not a repeat of existing policy.
- Include a proposal of action, as this is far more useful in shaping policy and therefore makes for a better motion.
- Use sections if you have several clear calls for action. Ensure that any subsections only deal with one point of principle and don’t reference other subsections.
- Be concise and clear. Write in plain English, explain any abbreviations, and try not to go beyond 150 words.
- Check that any factual points are accurate. Motions that have inaccuracies are unlikely to be selected.
- Be original – the Union needs exciting, topical debates. Even if your motion falls it can still offer colleagues a valuable perspective.
- Write long, verbose speeches or be repetitive, vague, or moralistic.
- Include quotations or actual sums of money, both of which run the danger of being inaccurate and thus invalidating the motion.
- Put forward motions which are already policy.
- Make personal attacks – the law of defamation may apply.
- Be afraid to submit a motion. They are important for the Union in developing and shaping policy into the future.