Since the surprise election result, the last couple of months have involved a fair bit of lobbying of the new government to ensure they stick to their pre-election promises.
This started with the mass Speak Up lobby on 17 June organised by the Climate Coalition, where 9000 people lobbied 330+ MP’s, and culminated in meeting our local MP David Gauke, and getting a letter back from Lord Bourne at the Department for Climate Change. They talk a good talk, but actions speak louder than words, and the extensive cut-backs to support for a clean energy future do not look good at all. I find myself swaying from optimism about what we can do locally and the technology coming through, to concern and even anger at the lack of political will to lead. Prior to 17 June, I obediently got in touch with David Gauke’s office following the suggestion on the Climate Coalition website after I signed myself up for the lobby. I got a fairly timely response, informing me that Mr Gauke would meet me and other constituents within the lobby of the Houses of Parliament.
The day arrived, without my having found time to prepare hugely. I got on a train with Nigel Crawley from Tring, and we discovered that neither of us really knew what was going on. We ended up following a blob on a digital map that was over the wrong place, but did just about get to Westminster with enough time to get through security before the meeting.
Only we talked to one of the organisers, who informed us that too many people had turned up to fit in the lobby, and we should make our way round to the other side of the river, where everyone was gathering waiting for MPs to be shuttled over on rickshaws. It took us a lot of walking up and down before we found out that our South West Herts constituency was lumped in with the East Anglia region, and a few more fellow South West Hertsonians joined us.
I had left a few messages with Gauke’s office to say there were too many of us to meet him in the building, and he should get himself out on a rickshaw. I was a little disappointed that not everyone I was expecting turned up. I needn’t have worried – they had got there earlier, and been directed inside (they wrote a beautiful account). We should have gone in when we had the chance. But I think it was fate.
I had to shoot off before the end to meet some potential partners in a sizeable local solar farm, bumping into Andy Burnham, challenger in the Labour leadership contest, en-route. He was waiting in his very shiny shoes at Westminster tube station. I used my well-rehearsed and perfected routine for talking to famous people – say hello, confirm their name, say “you don’t know who I am” and introduce yourself, then start up a natural conversation. We talked about the lobby event and climate policy in general. He said he hadn’t made it to the lobby, but had a lot of sympathy with the aims. He told me one of the policies he is standing for as leader is a moratorium on fracking, and described the Conservative policies on onshore wind as “insane, pure insanity”. When the tube train pulled in, I made sure to get on at a different door to avoid over-staying my welcome.
Given Gauke missed out on an earful from me, the following Thursday I phoned his office to arrange to meet him at an MP surgery. The following day I was cycling to Tring through the rain to see him. I had a much more prepared message for him, to find out about their apparently self-contradictory policies and suggest that they should take more leadership in persuading their supporters to give their support for effective climate policy.
More on how that went in a few days…