Local politicians are largely used to being lobbied about dog shit, potholes and street lights. And blamed for what is going on in Westminster, obvs. They’re busy, stressed ad sometimes tribal af. Lobbying them requires tact, compassion, stamina. Not doing so means you will lose, at a local level (you will probably lose anyway, also obvs).
|With loads of preparation, and following a detailed ‘how to’ you can engage with one or more local councillors so that they at least remember the issue/you when it comes to voting how their party wants them to anyway.||With minimal preparation you can approach all your local councillors about an issue/issues, pitching at the right level and in the right way to get at least a sympathetic and interested hearing. You know when and how to lobby, and when to go more quiet/tactful.||You are able to lobby councillors – friendly, indifferent and hostile – on complex issues in ways that get them rethinking their positions and considering taking up the cudgels for your perspective with other councillors and with (senior) officers, even if it risky for their careers/status||Your tenacity, fairness and intelligence render even the most hardened opponents nervous to downright terrified of you. You are able to – at the drop of a hat – make compelling cases for expensive action on issues that are vote-neutral or even vote negative. Even the slimiest and most cowardly of councillors are prone to make “courageous decisions” after falling under your spell.|
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What are the causes of it not being done or being done badly?
Well, the number one cause is, I think a lot of people either don’t know who their local politicians are, and especially their councillors.
Or don’t see the point because the game is rigged
Or don’t have time or perceive themselves not to have the time. Often it’s real, sometimes it’s perceived or feel that they don’t know enough
Or they feel like “well, it’s the responsibility of the politicians. I mean, they were elected after all, they’re supposed to be the experts.” There are other reasons to why people might just think, nah, why bother? then beyond that, if it’s done badly, if you believe that there’s a pure just information deficit model, and all you have to do is turn up with the facts and the politician will say, “thank you. The scales have now fallen from my eyes. And even though my party manifesto says something else, and in fact my entire party is captive of vested interests, mostly capitalist industrial ones, I am now going to change my tune.”
Now, no one would come out and say something is really ridiculous as that but that is the underlying assumption sometimes pure information deficit model. So the consequences of not lobbying politicians is they believe nobody cares. And there’s a recent work by Rebecca Willis which shows that very few MPs and probably even fewer councillors, as a proportion anyway, have been lobbied about climate change. And this is probably true for other issues as well. And in the absence of any lobbying, they will just, you know, a body at rest continues at rest, Newtonian. Newton told us all this.
I’m not saying that if you do lobby, everything will change. I’m not naive. The other consequences are that you as an active citizenship group, never really begin to understand just how broken our system is. How captive of stale zombie ideologies of technocratic domination and economic growth at all costs. If you don’t try to change the system, you don’t understand how entrenched and embedded the
system really is, in my opinion.
Okay, so what is to be done? There’s endless amounts of advice about lobbying. We’ve got a novice’s guide, which I won’t repeat in detail here. Suffice to say, it’s best if there’s a bunch of you who go and lobby in person or online. It’s best if you aren’t all middle class, university educated, because that doesn’t reflect the reality in many places, even in university towns. It’s best to keep it short and it’s best to try and mesh it with the frame. of the politician, you know, you’ve done your homework, you realise that they remember party x or party y and that particularly interested in issue ABC, trying to draw links between their own personal and party ideology, and the issues that they care about, and show how the pieces of the puzzle fit together is probably gonna leave you you’ll fail slower.
Okay, here ends today’s depressing rant about lobbying politicians.
Whoop! This is one where the folks at Climate Emergency Manchester have actually come up with a novice’s guide, which you can read and download from here.