24 Sep 2020
We need a fair and green recovery plan from the coronavirus pandemic, so that we can create a more sustainable, equal world for everyone.
An important way of demonstrating this is by making sure our MPs hear that their constituents are calling for a green and fair recovery. MPs can then go on to represent your views in the House of Commons and put pressure on the government to listen.
This autumn, the Chancellor is due to announce spending priorities in the Comprehensive Spending Review. This is a chance for the government to really prioritise a green and fair recovery from COVID-19.
We know that many groups got in touch with their MPs about a green and fair recovery in June. Some of those meetings are still being scheduled, while others are having follow ups. We’re encouraging groups to continue this amazing work and either set up an initial online meeting in order to adhere to social distancing guidelines, or build on existing conversations with MPs as they return to parliament this September.
Meeting your MP: a step-by-step guide
Step 1: Ask to meet your MP
You can do this by sending them an email on behalf of your group – we’ve written a template email to get you started. Given social distancing measures, you’ll almost certainly be meeting your MP online. Your MP will let you know how to virtually meet them – for example by using a digital platform like Zoom.
Remember that MPs must prioritise people from their own constituency. It’s great to go along as a group to show your strength, but make sure at least one person is from the area they represent.
Step 2: Prepare
It’s a good idea for your group to meet (virtually) a few days before the meeting to prepare. You’ll want to agree your agenda and decide who will say what. Spend some time researching your MP online to understand more about who they are and what they stand for.
You may want to do some more reading on what a green and fair recovery should include. We’ve also put together a briefing on our top 9 financial asks for the Comprehensive Spending Review that you can use to prepare prior to the meeting, and email over to your MP following the meeting. We recommend picking 2 or 3 priorities that you think are of most importance to your group, and are likely to resonate with your MP.
Remember, you don't need to be an expert on a subject to speak to your MP about it – your role is to raise issues you care about and ask them to represent your voice in Parliament.
As this will be an online call, make sure to practice using the technology ahead of time – including testing your microphone and webcam.
Step 3: The meeting
It’s likely you’ll only have about 15 minutes for your meeting. Here’s a suggested agenda of what this could look like:
- Introductions: Quickly introduce yourselves and the group you are representing. Remind them that you’re here to talk about how we must collectively build back better from this pandemic, and how the UK government can ensure a green and fair recovery.
- Problem: Explain why a green and fair recovery plan is needed and lay out your top "asks". Talk about the climate emergency, the growing inequality between rich and poor, and the value too often placed on profit over the lives of people and the health of our planet.
- Solution: Explain that during lockdown we’ve had the chance to reflect on what we value most and re-imagine what our world could look like. We can’t go back to "business as usual" when business as usual didn’t work for millions of people or our planet. Explain more about what a green and fair recovery plan could look like. You can do this by talking them briefly through Friends of the Earth’s plan. You probably won’t have time to talk through all the detail, but you can send them the link to the full briefing in your follow up email.
- Ask:It’s important to tailor your approach based on what you know about your MP. You may have a good idea of what makes your MP tick based on previous exchanges. If not, you can find out from looking at their social media and their voting record. They might be interested and/or weak on a specific issue that is within the policy demands, so make sure you are aware and feed this into any conversations. Ask your MP to take the issues you raise forwards on your behalf. Specifically:
- If they're Conservative, ask them to write to the Chancellor to convey the specific budget demands – even if they already wrote to them in advance of the last announcement.
- If they're Labour, ask them to contact the leadership with the demands, and press that Labour need to make the climate central to their response to the budget.
- For other parties you should also press them to make the climate central to their response to the budget and highlight where the party is either strong or weak on some of the asks.
- Thank you:Thank your MP for their time, and re-state the commitment they have made. Before you go, ask to take a photo of everyone on the call so you can use it on social media afterwards (make sure everyone has their webcams on!).
Step 4: Follow up
After the meeting, email your MP to thank them for their time, re-state again what they committed to during the meeting, and attach any further information they might find useful including a link to our Autumn budget briefing.
Post the photo on your social media platforms using the hashtag #TakeClimateAction and tag the MP so they can see it too. And finally, email firstname.lastname@example.org to let us know how it went!
If you have your MP's support...
Because of our efforts to lobby earlier in the summer, we know that some MPs have been supportive and open to conversations and others have a closed door. Lobbying MPs is only one route to creating change – and that’s why we’re calling on groups to take other actions this autumn as well.
You may have an MP who is either very publicly already on side, or who you’ve spoken with before and you know agrees with our demands. If that’s the case, this is an opportunity to push them further. As well as asking them to send on the demands to the Chancellor or their party leader, you could ask them to show support by:
- Publicly supporting or sharing some of our asks on their social media accounts.
- Speaking to fellow MPs about how they can push for change together.
- Taking up a specific policy within the demands to champion in parliament or within their party.
- Asking them what they think their party/ the government needs to see to take the green and fair recovery seriously.
- Joining your week of action in October or speaking at a future meeting or event.
It could also be worth discussing how your group could work with them to help gain attention for green recovery work in the area.
If your MP is not on board...
Some MPs may be unresponsive either by not replying to emails or refusing a meeting. We know this can be frustrating, but don't give up. Try:
- Calling the office to follow up on your email.
- Tagging them in a message on social media – and be persistent. MPs can be sensitive to getting a bad reputation publicly.
MPs are less likely to be holding drop-in surgeries as a result of COVID-19, so find out what alternatives they have and attend those.
If your MP is in complete disagreement with you, ask them to fulfil their duty as your representative in parliament and send the briefing to the Chancellor or their party leader.
The information you gain from an MP being opposed is really valuable. We know not everyone agrees with us, and if we can understand why, it’s easier to figure out how to speak to them. Try and understand what, from their point of view, are the big sticking points. It’s helpful if you can feed this back to us via your regional contact (or emailing email@example.com). We can then use it to update messaging and provide counter-arguments for your next meeting.
Remember – changing someone’s mind takes time, so don’t lose heart!
We have a useful guide on lobbying outlining 5 ways to lobby which we recommend you look at prior to meeting or writing to your MP.
We've also drafted a template email you can use to invite your MP to meet and discuss the recovery plan and spending review.
If you need additional support, please get in touch with your regional contact at Friends of the Earth – they'll be able to help advise on next steps and approach. Alternatively email firstname.lastname@example.org. And keep us updated on any progress either by email or on the Climate Action Slack channel.