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Updated: 21 min 6 sec ago

A guide to getting your MP to take action

Wed, 2019-03-20 14:15

Political Lobbying Network member Fi Radford in Bristol shares her top tips on lobbying your MP…

By Fi Radford

Put yourself in their shoes! That would be my key piece of advice for anyone wanting to successfully lobby their MP on any issue. Imagine a huge inbox that never empties, umpteen people wanting to bend your ear about their particular concerns, the ongoing and very real needs of your local constituents (known as casework), not to mention the demands of the Party and the House of Commons and, (if you are not in government) all without Civil Service support. I really don’t know how the good ones cope!

So, to lobby successfully you need to be friendly, clear and succinct in your ask, and able to back it up with reliable and well researched information. If you and your MP share common values and interests, you can become a useful resource over time, as trust grows. However, this all changes if you have very little in common, and you have to start from square one even to try and convince your MP of the science of climate change, as my Greenpeace friend had to do with the member for the 18th century. (No prizes for guessing!)

I first met Thangam Debbonaire (Labour MP for Bristol West) when a group of us travelled up to Westminster to greet her just after she had been elected in 2015.  I remember giving her a copy of ‘This Changes Everything’ by Naomi Klein, which at the time she did not seem too thrilled to receive. Later she told me she had read it whilst convalescing from breast cancer, which assailed her early on in her parliamentary career, but from which I am glad to say she has fully recovered.  Then in 2016 and 2017 I organised two one-hour sessions with other Environmental Groups to ask her questions on a variety of green issues. These went really well, and it was clear that with the exception of the big ‘N’ (Nuclear energy) there was a high degree of agreement, especially since Labour changed their policy and withdrew support from fracking.

Over time we’ve built a strong relationship and I consider her an ally. I recently went to meet her at her ‘surgery’ with a shopping list of three requests on plastics, fracking and a fierce watchdog in the new Environment Act meant to replace EU regulations and in every instance she concurred and gave me good advice to pass back to Greenpeace UK. I always follow up our meetings with a letter of thanks and listing what actions have been agreed. It is also a good idea to make a friend of her Parliamentary Aid too.

Between meetings I follow her on Facebook and theyworkforyou.com, which does not cover all the questions she raises, but most of them. I often write and thank her for a particular question she has raised on an environmental topic. Very occasionally I will send her articles which I think she will find useful, as she is keen to learn much more about renewables. I always try not to send her petitions having heard her heartfelt plea as the MP who always receives the most!

It helps to be part of the Greenpeace Political Lobbying Network as advice and information is always there to give you confidence and support. I would definitely encourage anyone with an interest in politics to get involved in lobbying, as even though our democracy is flawed, it is only our MPs who nationally have the power to change things for the better and even in opposition they have soft power and influence. I am very lucky with my MP and I know others may prove harder to convince, but if they like you and you can back up your arguments, then it is well worth persevering.

Feeling inspired? The Political Lobbying Network is made up of hundreds of Greenpeace supporters who contact MPs and other elected representatives about our campaigns and broader environmental issues. Thanks in part to lobbying from members of the Network, Government committed to backing the creation of an Antarctic Ocean Sanctuary.

Sign-up here to get more info and training. We’re running training on talking to your MP in London on 30th March and in Manchester on 27th April and you’re more than welcome.

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Categories: Activist News

In pictures: plastic in our rivers

Fri, 2019-03-15 12:20

We are all aware of plastics in our oceans, the Great Pacific Garbage between Hawaii and California is well known, but plastic pollution is invading our rivers too. That’s why we are carrying out the most thorough survey of plastic in UK rivers to date — testing river water in 13 rivers nationwide and analysing the plastics found. Samples will be sent back to the University of Exeter and compared with samples from other major rivers across the UK with the results to be collated into a scientific report on the plastic load in UK rivers.

The pictures below document part of our survey, showing the investigation into the river Severn and Wye, where we were joined by Hollywood actor Bonnie Wright.

The river Severn Hollywood film star Bonnie Wright joins scientists and campaigners to investigate plastic pollution in the river Wye. They are collecting macro and microplastic samples from three different points along the Wye using a filtering device called a manta net. Hollywood film star Bonnie Wright during the sampling at the river Wye. Fish and litter are photographed in the River Wye, Derbyshire. A mute swan is photographed next to a plastic bag in the river Trent. A brown trout swims next to a plastic bottle in the river Derwent in Derbyshire a tributary of the river Trent. An otter is photographed next to a plastic bottle at the river Little Ouse in Norfolk. Wildlife and plastic waste including much one-use plastic is found on the River Lea, East London. An otter swims in the river Severn

The post In pictures: plastic in our rivers appeared first on Greenpeace UK.

Categories: Activist News

Michael Gove, Don’t Lose Your Bottle

Thu, 2019-03-07 17:53

In the UK every year we go through around 14 billion plastic bottles, of all shapes and sizes. Most of us do our best to reuse, for example by refilling water bottles again and again; and to recycle, either at home or by getting rid of our bottles in a street bin.

But sadly, for plastic bottles, the recycling system isn’t working. In the UK only 59% of plastic bottles are collected for recycling, with many ending up polluting our streets, rivers and beaches. And worse still, many of the bottles we put in our recycling bins end up going to landfill or incineration, because they’re contaminated by other waste. European figures suggest that only around 37% of bottles are actually recycled.

That simply isn’t good enough if we’re going to stop these bottles polluting our wildlife, rivers and oceans. And the government knows this. So the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs is considering bringing in a deposit return scheme – where a small charge of around 15p would be added to the cost of buying drinks containers, which customers would get back when they recycle them. This is a fantastic opportunity to boost our recycling rates. Countries that already have schemes like this achieve recycling rates of around 95%.

The problem is – not everyone agrees. Industry trade bodies like the British Retail Consortium are lobbying for a watered down scheme which would exclude certain sizes and materials of drinks containers. If they get their way, at least six billion plastic bottles would be excluded from the deposit return scheme. That is clearly not acceptable. So this week, our determined Greenpeace volunteers delivered a 29ft-long plastic bottle artwork to the Environment Secretary Michael Gove, with a clear message to him: Don’t lose your bottle. We need an all-inclusive deposit return scheme that covers all sizes and materials.

Our enormous sculpture, made by artist Lulu Quinn from 2,500 littered plastic bottles, caused quite a spectacle and prompted many a smile from passers-by. What we need now is for as many people as possible to add their voice to ours, and tell Mr Gove just how vital it is that we choose an all-in scheme. The government launched a consultation last week, asking members of the public for their views on the deposit return scheme. I urge everyone to have their say and tell Mr Gove: don’t lose your bottle. Don’t bow to pressure from industry. Deliver an all-inclusive bottle scheme that tackles plastic pollution and protects our oceans.

Make sure Michael Gove doesn’t lose his bottle – have your say: https://act.gp/2IWEonP

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Categories: Activist News