Spotlight on Andrew Blake, a newly-trained Greenpeace political lobbyist
I’ve been a Greenpeace financial supporter ever since I started earning a salary 21-plus years ago, perhaps because I feel that I owe the world something and green issues are as close to my heart as anything.
I’ve thought about doing more active things, perhaps by getting involved in a local group or network, but as a busy university lecturer and an associate dean, I have never quite found the time. And then there’s the question of what to do – even when younger I could never quite imagine abseiling down a smokestack or boarding a ship, but what I can do is talk to people about what I care about.
In September, I spotted an opportunity to become trained as an individual lobbyist. This looked to be a way to contribute some of my time and experience to help make a difference.
After an intensive one-day course, I received my first briefing and campaign ask: to persuade my local MP to support specific amendments to the energy bill. As he is Chris Huhne, the energy and climate change secretary, this wasn’t going to be easy! A back bench MP would have had more freedom to agree and act on the issue.
Over the following months we exchanged emails and letters, I questioned him at a public meeting, and we’ve spoken face to face. He might not always agree, but it seems reasonable to hope when the bill enters the Commons that my efforts, alongside those of the other Greenpeace lobbyists, will have helped shape a greener piece of legislation.
I’d encourage anyone with a bit of time to spare, and a spark of confidence to do similar.
Greenpeace is looking to recruit and train a volunteer political lobbyist in each of the 650 parliamentary constituencies. We’re looking for reliable people who are prepared to meet with their local MP, or similar, two or three times a year. We’ve trained 201 people so far, and we need your help.
To find out more please register your interest online at www.greenpeace.org.uk/lobbying.