I have been a member of CCL for just over a year, having been persuaded by a talk by Prof. David Waltham that this was a group which had an effective and doable solution to climate change and a democratic and sensible way of achieving their goal.
I wasn’t really sure how much the mass lobby last year had achieved and signed up to attend this one with some trepidation, especially as our Devizes CCL group had already started correspondence with our new Conservative MP Danny Kruger and a Zoom meeting at which we had managed successfully to get him to agree to look into the current government thinking on climate policy issues and report back to us. I was worried that the virtual lobby may jeopardise the good rapport we had built (which is so embedded in the principles of CCL but not in that of other pressure groups).
We started thinking about strategy in advance and decided to use a question based on the carbon pricing report published earlier in the month (which we would have lobbied our MP about even if the mass lobby hadn’t happened) and to suggest all CCL lobby participants used it. This was a question which all MPs could do something about, by agreeing to ask about this issue in parliament, and could be the ‘beginning of a beautiful friendship’ or at least a productive one between CCL groups or individuals and the local MP.
The Constituency Office had asked for questions to be submitted beforehand which meant the MP could be prepared to a certain extent and time wouldn’t be wasted. We decided that one person who had been most active in engaging with our MP and building a good rapport would field the question. I think this helped the MP to feel comfortable with the process. Strategy was finalised in a Zoom meeting the night before.
I think because of the rapport we had built with Danny Kruger he decided to have our question first, which was a huge relief because I was worried that the lobby would be taken over by lots of vague demands that no Conservative MP would be likely to have truck with and we would have no time to field our question. We were allowed to ask secondary questions, ‘putting a hand up’ in the chat box if we wanted to ask a question, the MP could then decide who would speak next.
The Government’s plan to revive the economy had also been published the day before and this also enabled the other questions fielded to be very ‘concrete’ (pun intended) as they were asking about the emphasis on new build and roads rather than investing in retrofitting which had even been promised in the election manifesto. One participant was an expert in passive house construction, again this meant sensible questions could be asked about policy which the MP was capable of looking into. The chat function also enabled participants to add facts or links to information, I copied this to the CCL participants and the MP after the lobby as I am not sure what happens to the content of ‘chats’ afterwards.
The hour long ‘lobby’ went very well and was a means of showing our faces. I do feel that the success of the lobby owed a lot to the fact that we had already built a working relationship with the MP before the lobby, he knew that our approach would be respectful and positive and we knew his background and interests (as a new MP we had to do the research and know what not to mention!). In short, the lobby was a useful tool but should not be seen as the only opportunity to engage with your mp so if your voice wasn’t heard don’t despair, write a letter and hopefully get the ball rolling!
Judging by Danny Kruger’s constituency newsletter released on Saturday the 4th the lobby has achieved what we had hoped for! Danny has gone public on his commitment to discuss carbon fee and dividend (aka climate income) with the government and to look into the retrofitting issue further. Result!
Catherine Dawson took part in The Climate Coalition’s The Time is Now virtual lobby on 30th June 2020. More than 30 people, of which a third were CCL UK members, took part in the Devizes Constituency meeting with Conservative MP Danny Kruger.