So it’s official – there will be an election on 12 December. This is our moment to push climate action to the top of the political agenda, and make it a #climateelection. No doubt you’ve already been thinking of what you can do to help achieve this. In this ‘Election Special’ blog we’ve brought together some suggestions for what we can do to make a difference locally. If we all get going on this, we could really have an impact, as SECA member groups are active in the majority of constituencies in the South East.
What’s in the manifestos?
Struggling to make sense of the manifestos? To make life easier, we’ve produced a special synopsis that provides verbatim excerpts cut and pasted from the four main party manifestos, capturing what they say on climate and environment. It’s 37 pages – compared to the 361 pages in the full manifestos! There’s no spin, no bias, just the election promises in the parties’ own words. If you’d prefer a shorter summary, Carbon Brief have produced an online table that captures the main headlines.
Organise a hustings meeting
There is no better way to put election candidates on the spot than by inviting them to a hustings meeting and challenging them directly to set out their personal views on the climate crisis, and explain their party position. You could make it a ‘climate hustings’ and focus just on these issues. Or you may prefer to cover a broader range of topics, but make sure climate questions are prominent in the mix.
Hustings meetings can take various forms, from a low-key public meeting in a village hall to a more ambitious staged event. Here’s some advice on how to organise a hustings from Greening Steyning, which has run successful events for the last three elections, using a BBC ‘Question Time’ format. Friends of the Earth have put out some very useful guidance too, as have Hope for the Future.
If organising a meeting yourself is difficult, maybe you could go along to a hustings meeting run by another group and put your questions to the candidates there. One way or another, the more candidates are challenged on the climate the more they’ll realise this is an issue they cannot ignore.
Write to candidates
This is another great tactic for getting the climate message over. A coordinated letter writing campaign across the South East worked well in the local elections. We could repeat that for the general election. With that in mind, we’ve drafted the outline of a letter to send to candidates, which can be adapted as you see fit. You may wish to alter this so it comes from your local green group, rather than an individual. Or you could adapt it and circulate it to fellow members of your local group, so candidates get multiple copies. It’s your call.
A few pointers on letter writing:
- Personalised letters are more impactful than standard form letters, so make a point of amending the text to add your perspective and maybe mention local climate issues.
- Candidates are going to be much more responsive to letters from their own constituents, so make sure you make this clear.
- You can find candidates contact details by typing your postcode into the Who Can I Vote For or the Electoral Commission website. The final list isn’t published until two weeks before the date, but you might be able to find them in advance through party websites.
- Letters sent by post have more impact than emails. A letter sent c/o the party office should get there if postal addresses are not being published.
Please let us know of any responses that you receive and we will try to compile them.
Various organisations have already got going with campaigns to get candidates to pledge action on the NHS and other issues. Friends of the Earth have created a climate pledge card with the message “I’ll make the climate crisis a deal-breaker in how I vote in Parliament”. So we know ours won’t be the only pledge cards in town.
But we figured there’s nothing to lose in asking candidates to sign a SECA pledge card that states that “I will support action on the climate emergency”. We’ve asked them to sign this in the letter to candidates, and you can encourage candidates to do so when you meet them at hustings meetings or out on the campaign trail. Print out the card. Get them to sign it. Take a photograph of them holding it up. Then publicise it widely on social media using the hashtags shown on the card.
Here’s a simple poster you can print out urging people to ‘Vote for Climate Action’.
Other actions and ideas
Friend of the Earth election toolkit – As well as ideas on hustings, the FOE Toolkit has very helpful advice on fixing a meeting with candidates, and questions you can raise with them. And there’s info on the webinars they are running on November 7th and 12th on “How to make this an election on the climate crisis”.
November climate strike – the next big school strike is on Friday 29th November, and in the UK there’s going to be a special focus on the election. Find out more from the UK Student Climate Network.
Hope for the Future – a Sheffield-based climate action group have published resource materials on getting climate change on the election agenda. This includes advice on holding hustings, including a special resource pack for churches thinking of holding hustings.
Petitions Here’s one from 38 degrees calling on the party leaders to take part in a televised national debate on climate and nature.
Best of luck with your #climateelection efforts. Let us know how you get on!