Zee-Zee has written about her experience meeting with her local Conservative MP, Andrew Bingham. Andrew had not previously expressed interest in taking action on climate change, but was very receptive and forthcoming in this meeting.
Three of us met with Andrew Bingham MP for “High Peak” on Saturday 18 June 2016. We had an appointment for 15 minutes but his surgery was not busy so he gave us half an hour.
Andrew seems like a good MP, who is committed to excelling in his job as a local MP, despite having a safe seat and not needing to worry about votes. You could see his passion for this when he was talking and I really think that was genuine.
Our reflections on the meeting are that Andrew started out as pretty defensive, perhaps due to the poor reputation that climate campaigners generally have with a lot of MPs - we all noticed his defensive body language to start with. He was confident in his party's response to climate change and when challenged on this, he became increasingly adamant of this fact.
However, we managed to confirm and voice some of his concerns- like concerns over the inconsistency of renewables. We focused on tidal, where he had already expressed an interest, rather than trying to convince him otherwise on other forms of renewable. We were as encouraging as we could be, and gradually Andrew responded well to that.
The real turning point came when we began to respect his stance that he is an ally to the cause, and asked him how we might get more people in his constituency switched on about climate change. This was the point at which he got excited because this was something he could genuinely do- getting more people in his constituency convinced. I think this is so important because he is able to act as a local advocate and in doing so, we may find he becomes a lot more passionate about the issue himself.
He has offered to work with us in speaking with climate skeptics in the constituency, which I think is amazing- he is willing to potentially lose votes in order to try and convince people, rather than just saying what people already want to hear.
All in all we all three felt it had been a worth while meeting and we were very grateful for the time Andrew gave us. I had been nervous that the conversation would not go well as I had previously tried to speak with Andrew about the issue, but I was pleasantly surprised. In particular we appreciated his willingness to listen to a different perspective and work with us in finding out where we did agree, rather than focusing on where we didn't. I also appreciate the the way in which he was very forthcoming in offering to help us raise awareness of climate change in the constituency and I look forward to working with him this over the coming months.