Oct 26, 2022
Greetings to all MP Watchers at this deeply troubling time in world history. We are holding our politicians to account in the UK, but with great concern for all of the families affected in Israel and in Gaza. If ever there was a time for honest politics, for empathy for both sides of a conflict over an eye for the main chance, this is it.
We have a lot to get through this newsletter. We have a political round up, news and plans from the national group as well as details from local campaigns including a brand new one in Lincoln. There are also details of a couple of actions - one a banner drop and another a gathering outside parliament to petition MPs with scientists, health workers and psychologists to which you are all invited. And news of the process we will follow to devise our political strategy until the election. And last but not least there’s a new section from our parliamentary researcher Victor Anderson.
Hope you enjoy!
POLITICAL PARTY SEASON - GLITTERING UNTRUTHS: Political party season came and went with the usual thrills and spills from the dancing Conservatives in Manchester to a glitter-covered Labour leader in Liverpool. Among the concerns for the climate conscious these stand out:Conservative MP Mark Harper endorsing the 15-minute city conspiracy, labelling a life-enhancing progamme to enhance neighbourly life and lower emissions as ‘sinister’. And just before Rishi Sunak’s stance that cost is prohibitive to reducing emissions and that the UK is ahead of its targets. Another Conservative MP Chris Skidmore disagreed. Most strikingly, Liz Truss returned with ‘Make Britain Grow Again’ to rapturous applause. Environmental concerns that reared their heads at the Labour conference in Liverpool include the promise of 1.5 million homes being built quickly made by Keir Starmer, hinting at a sledgehammer approach to local planning. This seemed at odds with the Gordon Brown report which calls for more devolved powersKeir’s speech was interrupted by a protester in favour of an elected House of Lords who showered him in green glitter. But some thought the sponsors of some of the Labour Party events were less sparkly than green washing. Elsewhere, the Lib Dems are seemingly focused on winning seats in rural locations from the Conservatives, with their conference sympathising most with the devastating impacts that world trade deals have had on local food production in this country. The Green Party in Brighton focussed on winning 4 seats at the next election. MP Watcher Lesley Graeme represented us there and afterwards ran through the policies democratically decided: ‘to amend the Companies Act - requiring to put environmental and social priorities ahead of financial returns to shareholders, support for 4 day week, and a ban on high carbon advertising’. She gave out many MP Watch leaflets and was pleased to realise that many had already heard of us, or of our first campaign Steve Baker Watch.
TRUTH IN POLITICS: We were delighted to host long time friend of MP Watch, Mike Berners-Lee, last week who presented, despite a local power cut, a focused insistence that politicians must be held accountable to tell the truth - that the Nolan Principles should be adhered to by MPs. Over 60 attendees joined the webinar, with the opportunity to ask questions at the end. You can watch the inspiring recording below.
In other news, on Monday the Government rejected calls to make lying in Parliament a criminal offence in spite of public petitions in favour.
DISENFRANCHISEMENT: Our MP Watch co-founder Tom Hardy has written an excellent article published in Byline Times about the way many MPs block constituents from their social media for disagreeing with them even if it is expressed politely. MPs often also ignore constituents request to meet. We see this behaviour mirrored all over the country, but there has recently been an interesting turn of events at Mark Jenkinson Watch, where the MP Watchers are aware they are themselves being watched. Says Alison of the group: “We feel like he's starting to monitor us, both as individuals and as a group, which suggests we're having an impact”
NEW RISHI SUNAK VIDEO: Our talented in-house film maker Guy Ducker has been busy making his new video about Rishi Sunak, which has had over 15k views on our twitter account. You can watch the video on our YouTube channel below
UPCOMING EVENTS FOR WATCHERS AND FRIENDS
TRAININGS: The last training cycle of the year will begin in November on Thursday 23rd. Sign up now for four weeks of MP Watch basics, support and tips and hints from the humorous Ed Walsh. We are pleased that by the end of the year over 70 groups will have gone through the process. Because the evenings are the most popular time then we are experimenting in the next cycle by having a 7 o clock and an 8 o'clock start. Please let us know if you would like to reserve a place by emailing email@example.com
TUESDAY DROP INS: From Tuesday 31st October at 7pm we are going to hold a last Tuesday of the month drop in session for everyone and anyone from our watcher network who fancies hanging out or who wants to get some advice or hear how other people’s campaigns are going. It’s for you whether you are fresh out of the training or very established. Please come! Subjects could include:How your People Planet Pint session went, your first meeting with your MP, MP social media blocking, leaflets, social media issues, queries and ideas, finding local allies, door knocking or having a table in your local market; posters, or local press. In fact anything you want to chat about is fair game. As well as meeting other constituency campaigns it will also be a chance to meet some of the national team.
PROFILE RAISING AND POLITICAL PLANNING: We are thrilled to welcome Daisy Thomson into the national team to work on the political and election plan for our network. Daisy has been a civil servant working on Grenfell and also worked for some es charities. We will be liaising with experienced campaign veterans who are friends of the project for suggestions.
But then we would like some volunteers to help at different stages from the network. Some in person and some on zoom. If you would like to know more or are definitely up for being part of this initiative please email firstname.lastname@example.org and put ELECTION PLANNING in the subject column.
EVENTS: Next month - we have heavy-pencilled 15th November - we would love people from across our movement to come to London to take part in a banner drop at the House of Commons. Let us know if you fancy coming and would like help with the train fare. We will use the banner drop and the release of a new film about political lying to draw attention to our movement. If you’re interested in joining in please email email@example.com and put BANNER DROP in the subject line. We will let you know when we have confirmed the date and let you know of other activities for the day.
CALL TO ACTION OUTSIDE PARLIAMENT - 21st NOVEMBER: Supplied by Jane Ripley of Sally-Ann Hart Watch. On Tuesday November 21, a coalition of groups will be returning to Parliament to lobby their MPs on the importance of No New Oil and Gas licences. This is building on the successful action in September by a group of scientists in which they emailed over a hundred of their MPs asking them to speak to their constituents. Our own Victor Anderson supported the first action. For the second in November MP Watch national and local groups will be directly supporting. And we will be in good company as health workers, lawyers, and educators will also join us. This time Victor will provide attendees with a range of targeted and detailed questions to ask their MP and answer questions on parliamentary process. This is an exciting new collaboration and the feedback from constituents after their meetings with MPs should yield some interesting information for MP Watch to use going forward.
USEFUL RESOURCES: How does your council score on its climate policies? Find out hereElection campaign material looking like fake newspapers?Learn more hereFinally and fabulously, some social media help from Videorev: how to make rapid response videos. This is a highly informative hour-long presentation which details how these videos go viral and how influential they are to mainstream media in inviting guests in to talk about issues. Inspiring and thoroughly recommended
NEWS FROM LOCAL GROUPS: Karl McCartney Watch.Christine and Valida report from the newly created Lincoln-based Karl McCartney Watch.To give you a brief idea of Karl McCartney's thinking... On his website news (4/10/23) he states: 'I am pleased to announce we will no longer accept the woke agenda - whether on stopping the ban on car/diesel engines from 2030 or not allowing transgender women in women's NHS wards. It is clear what a woman is so it is bizarre Starmer and Lincoln's Labour party do not' Karl McCartney's Lincoln seat is a key marginal and his voting record on the climate is of great concern as we highlight in our MP Watch leaflet. Since 2010 we have identified 29 parliamentary votes relating to climate in which Karl McCartney could have voted. This is his record.
Karl McCartney's culture wars rhetoric and lack of respect for the views of others compels us to challenge him. We both recently completed the MPWatch training with Tom and Marijn and found the Zoom sessions useful in getting us started. The slides are a brilliant resource to be able to return to and dive deeper into the knowledge and strategies available to us. It has given us the confidence to be able to act and to know what steps we can take. It has empowered us. Since completing the training, we have built our group to five members and have set up Twitter, Instagram, Telegram and e-mail accounts.Contact us: Email firstname.lastname@example.orgTweet @lincolnmpwatchInsta #lincolnmpwatch. We are also building alliances with Lincoln XR, Unison, Lincoln Climate Emergency Centre and others. Lincoln XR are developing Community Assemblies and are working on important questions to discuss at a local level. Ultimately, they are working towards holding a Community Assembly outside Karl McCartney's surgery. Meanwhile our next step as a new MP Watch group is to frame a question ourselves for Karl McCartney and for a couple of us to go meet him in person. Steve Baker Watch In the last MP Watch newsletter, we mentioned Steve Baker had called us clowns in the local press. We thought this was too good an opportunity to miss, so last week we themed our vigil at his office accordingly, and became Baker's clowns! We had a great response from passers by and made the press again. Not so pleased was the man himself who told us he was right to call us names as he drove past. Now Steve Baker has called us muppets in his latest interview so watch this space. On a more serious note, we despair at not being able to have a reasonable conversation about climate breakdown with our MP.
Launch of MP Watch for Norfolk. From Lesley Graham. Saturday 18th November, 3.30 -5.30 pm, Quaker Meeting House, Upper Goat Lane NR2 1EW. Just turn up. Imagine every MP telling the truth about climate and acting on the emergency. Groups of constituents are watching and engaging their MPs to make it happen. Norfolk Cluster of MP Watch have a launch event with speakers including national MP Watch founders Jessica Townsend and Tom Hardy. Our launch will be part of Possitopia Norwich. Possitopia Norwich is a programme for activation on the Earth crisis, to open imaginations to possible futures of the City, of its wider bioregion and the Earth systems we all depend upon.
VICTOR’S CORNER: Victor’s Corner is a new regular feature of the MP Watch. Victor Anderson worked in Parliament for 8 years, giving us useful and current events coming up that we need to be aware of. If you are new to Victor’s work, you can watch his MP Watch video on the Parliamentary process below:
WHAT TO LOOK OUT FOR IN NOVEMBER: Parliament is now coming towards the end of its legislative year. It all starts up again with the State Opening on Tuesday November 7. At the centre of the State Opening is the King’s Speech, outlining the legislation the Government intends to propose to Parliament in the course of the year. “Outlines” because there is no detail provided – for that you need to google “King’s Speech briefing 2023” after the speech, which will take you to the gov.uk website and the briefing notes that are provided mainly for journalists. Already the House of Commons Library has made some informed guesses at what could be in the Speech.Then the next big parliamentary event is the Autumn Statement on Wednesday November 22. This will set out the Government’s latest economic forecasts, including for inflation, economic growth, and tax revenues, and the allocation of government spending between different departments and other categories (e.g. Scotland, Wales, local authorities, capital investment, repaying government debt). What might we look out for?• Has money been allocated for adapting infrastructure to climate change?• Has money been allocated for a serious home insulation programme?• Will there be a new Transport Bill to improve co-ordination of the railways and spread electric vehicle charging points?• Will the Government try again to scrap the “nutrient neutrality” rules that make developers pay for water pollution they cause?If we want to look back at October, it’s worth checking how MPs voted on amendments to the Levelling-Up and Regeneration Bill, especially Amendment 244 to make it easier to build onshore wind. (Division 343) “to ensure parity with other renewable and low carbon development, including but not limited to, removing restrictions on onshore wind energy development in the National Planning Policy Framework and the energy National Policy Statements.”Meanwhile the Energy Security & Net Zero Select Committee is carrying out an inquiry into the future of the National Grid, which is generally agreed not to be working well, staying with an old design just not suitable for renewables. What the Committee needs, however, is a set of proposals (legal and financial, not only the engineering) for transition from the current situation to something a lot more renewable-friendly. This is something I am working on at the moment, so get in touch if you have any suggestions! Outside Parliament, Labour Party Conference showed clearly that Labour is relaxed about the Conservatives making energy policy a “wedge issue” (“bring it on” said Ed Miliband, “speed ahead” Starmer). At the same time, the Party leadership is gradually nibbling away at the commitment to spend £28 billion a year on their Green Prosperity Plan (basically Labour's Equivalent of the Green New Deal) – “fiscal responsibility” comes first.Phew! That’s it for now folks! Do look out for trainings and webinars emails, and please do join us in London for the banner drop!
With love fromThe MP Watch Team