Thursday, 26 November 2009

Meeting your local MP

I recently met with my local MP, Peter Luff, after arranging to meet him at his weekly surgery. We discussed my involvement with UNICEF, my local volunteering activities, but also the Conservative policies and his own personal opinions surrounding climate change.

With the General Election fast approaching, it was really valuable to get an insight into the Conservative’s action plan when it comes to the environmental agenda. Their priorities seem to be:
  • The development of ‘smart grid’ and ‘smart meter’ technology
  • Subsidising the insulation of homes
  • Encouraging the micro-generation of electricity
  • Expanding offshore wind and marine power

Worcestershire, my home county, is relatively forward-looking when it comes to sustainability, achieving the Beacon Award for tackling climate change in 2008-2009. Whilst Peter and I didn’t see eye to eye on some issues, such as wind turbines and nuclear power, it was great that he gave me some of his time – especially given that I am not even of voting age yet!

Architects from Worcestershire County Council working with young people at a design workshop, with the aim of building an eco-community centre in our local area.

In many ways, I felt that Peter did not quite grasp the extent of youth activism on climate change in my local area. This is why it is essential for young people to contact their local MP’s and get their voices heard on such issues. By showing local leaders that we support ambitious climate policies and pledges and reminding them that we will be the ones voting and facing the consequences of climate change, they will soon start to take notice! So here are a few of my top tips for contacting and meeting your local MP:

  1. Have a look at the website ‘They Work For You’ to find out who your local MP is, what they have voted on recently and their main topics of interest.

  2. All MP’s have a personal website where you can find contact details – write them a letter or an email, or even ring them up and see if you can arrange a meeting. They might take a while to respond, but be patient!

  3. Once you’ve got a date, do some research. Have a look at some issues they have campaigned about recently and think about how it’s relevant to you. They will be pleasantly surprised by your initiative and will certainly be more responsive in the discussion.

  4. Relax, act confident and smile! There is no need to be nervous – they are representing you and will appreciate what you have to say.

  5. Thank them for their time, even if the discussion wasn’t that positive.

I hope to get in touch with Peter once I return from Copenhagen, and discuss the outcomes of the Children’s Climate Change Forum and the UN Conference, and what it means for our local area. I hope you feel inspired to take similar action with your local MP and get a positive experience out of it!

Katie x


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