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Vice Chair Campaigns – looking for help!

October 10, 2018 10:12 PM
By Keith Melton
Originally published by Green Liberal Democrats

GLD Conference 2018 - Keith taking a break (KNDaws)Vice Chair Campaigns - looking for help! (Keith Melton)

The Green Liberal Democrat`s AGM in Brighton established a NEW post this year - Vice Chair Campaigns - and I am delighted to report the GLD Exec meeting at the weekend confirmed my appointment to this post, expanding the executive at this juncture of rapid growth to spread the load and develop the group`s strategy to bring Green campaigning front and centre to the Liberal Democrats.

All the media attention of conference this year has been about Brexit and several reports called the Brighton conference "flat", "uninspiring", choosing to concentrate upon Vince`s fluffed "exotic spesm", but that is not how I viewed our sunny week in Brighton. Green Lib Dems were equal top with ALDC for the number of fringe meetings - we put on FOUR - held at conference. And even then, there were a goodly number of other environmental fringes put on by other organisations, which posed problems for green-inclined delegates, choosing where to go at lunchtime and in the evening.

But that wasn`t all. We put on two training sessions (a FIRST for GLD) to boost expertise around Green Campaigning and these seemed to be well received, so much so that we plan to start offering them around the country in the run-up to the 2019 local elections, tying in to our Green Accreditation Scheme aimed at members putting themselves up for election. This by itself is going to keep your new VC Campaigns busy, but more of that later.

GLD Conference 2019 - in Nottingham

Also on the cards to keep me busy in the new role is our decision this last weekend to put on another Green Liberal Democrat Conference for next year. We had a great conference in Nottingham in May of this year, which was well-attended and generated a lot of excitement at the time, albeit a little too close to the local election campaigns. Several people commented they would have come along but it was only two weeks after a busy campaign and folk were recuperating.

We have taken that into account for next year, setting the probable date for the conference four weeks later for the 15th June. Looking ahead, we hope to make this an annual event and move it around the country, making it more accessible for members everywhere. But for 2019, to ease the planning burden, we are targeting Nottingham again - it was such a good venue and great value and we were looked after very well by our hosts at Nottingham University. So, please pencil in Saturday 15th June 2019 in your diary and also pencil in the Sunday because we hope to add a "camping weekend Summer School" to the event next year - but more of that another time!! Watch this space!

Political Campaigning - IPCC report demands urgent ACTION!

OK, back to campaigning! As if we didn`t already know, the IPCC report coming out of South Korea last weekend upped the ante on political action to combat Climate Change. Now the scientists are confirming what some of us already knew in our hearts, that disaster lay ahead if we do not manage to change our ways.

In a way, for us in the Green Liberal Democrats, this will now allow us to concentrate on the positive side of our campaigning. Because the negative story is now being told more widely and more urgently by other non-political actors, we are able to concentrate on what needs to be done now, rather than spending our time frightening the life out of people telling them the consequences of doing nothing! This has sometimes been a dis-spiriting, but absolutely necessary aspect of our role up to now, so it is a welcome change to be ABLE to be positive!

So, alongside the campaigning training and the accreditation scheme, we want and need to make our environmental policy more accessible to activists and members of the public alike. It could be especially important for the local elections next year, not least because there is a heightened awareness of a number of environmental threats we all face, of course, but also because, whatever happens about Brexit, being able to talk about issues OTHER than Brexit may be a novel component in those elections!

The GLD executive meeting on Saturday determined the need to review our ability to provide campaigning materials and so we established a subcommittee, or working group if you will, to do this. Because it is both a political issue and a campaigning issue the group falls under the joint remit of your VC Politics, Steve Mason and me as VC Campaigns. Now, it just so happened that after the meeting Steve and I were travelling back on the same train, me to Nottinghamshire, Steve to Yorkshire, so we were able to brainstorm a few ideas on the journey.

HELP!

The overall conclusion we came to was that WE NEED YOUR HELP to do the job properly! There really is a significant opportunity here to take a large step forward in how GLD can contribute to winning local council seats if we can provide appropriate campaigning material.

Steve and I talked through the possibilities of how we might present the information in a coherent and accessible way and it became clear that, although there may be some gaps in our policy portfolio, we actually have a huge resource of environmentally oriented policies in place in the Party - it has simply not been shaped into campaigning "weapons" to use easily on the streets. Put simply:-

1 How do we turn policy into votes? … and …

2 How do we offer hope for a clean, green vision for Britain?

We have some ideas about how it can and should be organised, but we need lots of you to help find and identify the material and then "weaponise" it. An additional benefit of this exercise will be to identify any gaps that there might be, allowing us to suggest ways of plugging such gaps with new resolutions to Party conference if needs be, but that is not the primary aim.

Three key headings

The evidence suggests that voters still tend to be motivated by three main areas of concern when choosing where to place their votes - the Economy ("it`s the economy, stupid"), Security and Health. We take the view that each of these can be treated in an environmental context. So, we want to bring together our green policies/campaigns under these three headings (with cross references if they fit under more than one heading.)

Our policies need also to be discoverable under headings that reflect the most "familiar" issues - so Climate Change, Plastics Pollution and so on - see the list of Twelve below, "Twelve" being a powerful number psychologically! And the Campaigning packs need, in the first instance, to be simple, hard-hitting and ready to use, but with accessible back-up information so that campaigners can be well-briefed when delivering them on the doorstep or in the street.

Get involved

That`s the Challenge! We are looking for all the help we can get. Check through the twelve headings below and if you have a specific skill set or knowledge base associated with any of these, or if you have examples from your local campaigning that will help us develop interesting and useful campaigning guides, case studies from your own areas, then we want to hear from you. So, get in touch with us via the email here >>> keith.melton@greenlibdems.org.uk

Twelve Key Issues

These are the twelve headings we have chosen. If you think we have missed an obvious one or you have a better heading title, then please let us know. We need to tap into our Green Lib Dem "Hive Mind" as much as possible. Remember, we are not trying to create NEW policies, we are seeking to put together effective campaign packs on these topics, using the policies and practices we already possess, developing case material, copiable council resolutions and more! The list is in alphabetical order rather than ranked by importance. Also, it is worth remembering that each of these topics may have important sub-topics that deserve campaign packs of their own. If you think so, please let us know:-

Agriculture, (farmers and farming)

Animals, (animal welfare)

Air Pollution

Climate Change (many sub-topics)

Economics, (circular economics)

Energy production, (renewable energy, fracking)

Food Choices (eating less meat)

Fuel Poverty

Green Belt

Housing and Health (insulation)

Plastic pollution

Transport (public and private)

What can I do?

Please do not assume that you can leave someone else "better qualified" or " more experienced" to do this task for the group - we need a lot of help to do it properly and then we need a lot of help to start the campaigns flowing, so, even if you think your only "skill" is `looking up information on the internet`, we NEED you!! If you can draw cartoons, we need you! If you can spot typoos we need you (that one was deliberate by the way)! If you have shepherded a controversial environmental motion through a balanced council meeting, we need you! Everyone can help, so please get in touch.

Contact me at this email address keith.melton@greenlibdems.org.uk and let me know what skills/information sources/interests you have (bullet points for preference please). If you could also let me know your nearest town or city, we may be able to set up some small team meetings as the process goes along. Otherwise include your Skype address and/or phone number(s)

GDPR declaration

The information you send me is for the purposes of a closed working group and it is our intention to share these contact details within the group for the purposes of ease of internal communication between members of the group, so please send only such information as you are happy to share.

Keith Melton and Steve Mason