Mr Jenkin and his wife, Baroness Jenkin, pictured below picking up litter from their local beach, are no strangers to environmental concern. Talking about the Government’s recent move on single use plastics Mr Jenkin remarked that ‘the establishment is playing catch up’ with public concern for greater environmental protection, listing as an example the range of eco-friendly lifestyle choices he has made over the years. The issue of climate change specifically, however, is one that has evolved for Mr Jenkin, not least due to the work of one of his constituents, Jill, a member of the Women’s Institute, whose own inspiring lobbying blog you can read here.
We asked Mr Jenkin, a recent recipient of The Climate Coalition’s Green Heart Hero Award, what he thinks makes for good lobbying.
Grounding your approach in the local is a sure fire way to grab an MPs attention, even if they had not been previously interested in the issue. Due to the number of fisheries in his constituency for example, supporting sustainable fishing has become a personal focus for Mr Jenkin as a means of reducing CO2 emissions, tackling food security and safeguarding fishing livelihoods. Mr Jenkin recently signed the Blue Belt Charter to protect the UK’s marine estate which you can read about here.
This year’s Show the Love campaign saw MPs of all political persuasions tweeting to raise awareness about climate change. An increasing number of campaigns seek to engage MPs on social media but according to Mr Jenkin it is local stories that get the most attention on these platforms. Social media can be an effective means of direct lobbying as many MPs, Mr Jenkin included, use social media as a personal tool. However, parliamentary rules dictate that MPs can only respond to constituency requests so campaigners should endeavour to make it possible for office staff to verify that they or their campaign is local.
MPs receive up to several hundred emails a day so it’s not hard to understand why personalised campaigns are often more effective in gaining MPs’ attention. It’s something we hear over and over again from MPs and why relationship building is so fundamental to Hope for the Future's approach. Be explicit in how your campaign relates to the MP themselves through a parliamentary role, a known personal interest or to the constituency they represent. Mr Jenkin was highly complementary of Jill’s lobbying approach which started as a surgery meeting, and progressed to a series of public meetings with outcomes to be reported directly to Number 10. This long-term approach which gradually built a good working relationship, through a combination of determination and a focused common agenda, is, according to Mr Jenkin, the key to Jill’s success. You can read Jill’s perspective on this journey here.
Mr Jenkin shared with us this picture of his wife, Baroness Jenkin, picking up littered plastic from their local beach. The photo got some good attention on social media after Mr Jenkin tweeted that he couldn’t believe his other half had posted it. Mr Jenkin’s final piece of advice to us was that campaigns that are unusual or personal, that catch peoples’ eye or are funny in some way are the ones he really sees making progress.
Hope for the Future’s approach is grounded in the real advice and input of MPs across the political spectrum, as well as our own lobbying experience with hundreds of MPs across the UK. We offer training and one to one advice for anyone interested in having their voice heard on climate change. Contact us for more information about how we can support you your lobbying work.