Are you a Liberal Democrat conference rep who went to Brighton?

If so, I’ve got a question for you. Below is the text of an email sent out by 38 Degrees following their lobbying campaign around Liberal Democrat conference.

The lobbying itself – over the climate change debate – was pretty well done, in particular firing up supporters to want to lobby the Liberal Democrats – but doing so without throwing the sort of brickbats at the party that would make the lobbying less likely to be effective. (It’s a common problem with lobbying campaigns: you whip up an audience by saying the target is evil, and then found the said recipient of all the evil comments amazingly enough isn’t that receptive to your approaches.)

However, on reading the email below talking up the impact of their lobbying campaign, and even allowing for the “it looks likely that…” style caveats, my first thought was: “nonsense”. My second longer thought was: “I didn’t come across any conference representative whose vote was swayed by the 38 Degrees campaign, so they’re vastly over-stating their influence”.

Perhaps I’m being unfair, especially as I didn’t explicitly go out and ask conference reps and instead am judging things more by what I didn’t hear than what I did hear.

So if you were a voting conference rep in Brighton, do let me know: did you vote in the debate 38 Degrees was lobbying over, and if so was your vote influenced by their campaign? This was one of their better campaigns in many ways – and so it’s all the more interesting to know what impact it had.

UPDATE: Some early answers to my question from Twitter –

Here’s the 38 Degrees email:

Climate vote – good news

Dear Mark,

I wanted to get in touch with an update on a 38 Degrees petition you had an email about last week. The petition was calling on the Lib Dems to back real action to tackle climate change. It’s pretty good news – it looks like it made a big difference.

Almost 40,000 of 38 Degrees members signed the petition. Last Sunday, I went down to Brighton to take the petition to the Lib Dem party conference. I went inside to deliver the box of signatures direct to the climate change secretary, Ed Davey MP.

The next morning I was joined by local 38 Degrees members by the entrance to the conference. As Lib Dems arrived to vote, we handed each of them a leaflet containing the petition message and telling them how many of us had signed it. There was only one way into the venue, so it was pretty hard to dodge us.


Left: Here I am handing our huge people-powered petition to Ed Davey. Right: 38 Degrees members handing out our leaflets at the entrance to the conference.

It looks like our pressure worked. On Monday the Lib Dems voted by a big majority for tougher climate action, including electricity without carbon by 2030. By the time Nick Clegg stood up to speak at the end of the conference, the need to tackle climate change and create new jobs in green industries had become a big theme of the conference.

It looks like our petition helped sway the Lib Dems to make the right choice and back real action to tackle climate change.

It’s a great start. But we can’t take things for granted from here. We know it’s never safe to relax just because politicians promise to do something – we have to keep the pressure up until they actually do it. And we know that when it comes to tackling climate change, powerful politicians like George Osborne keep trying to block progress.

So we’ll need to keep working together. But this weeks’ success is definitely a great example of how we can change things for the better.

Thanks again for being involved,

Executive Director

PS: Do you think 38 Degrees should continue to make sure George Osborne doesn’t wreck climate targets? What else could we be doing together to tackle climate change? You can share your thoughts and feedback with other 38 Degrees members in the comments section here: http://blog.38degrees.org.uk/2012/09/25/lib-dems-vote-for-tougher-climate-action/

[1] 38 Degrees blog: Lib Dems vote for tougher climate action http://blog.38degrees.org.uk/2012/09/25/lib-dems-vote-for-tougher-climate-action/
[2] The Independent: Environmental campaigners call for legally-binding carbon target http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/environmental-campaigners-call-for-legallybinding-carbon-target-8166419.html
[3] Business Green: Lib Dems: green investment bank must borrow immediately;http://www.businessgreen.com/bg/news/2207680/lib-dems-green-investment-bank-must-borrow-immediately
[4] The Guardian: Nick Clegg taunts Conservatives over broken green promises http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2012/sep/26/nick-clegg-lib-dem-green-promises



Dear Mark,

Right now, there’s a tug of war going on in government over our climate targets. George Osborne is trying to wreck plans for getting carbon emissions under control. [1] But this week, there’s a real chance we could stop him getting his way.

At the weekend, Lib Dems will be travelling to Brighton to meet for their conference. They will be voting on plans for the next year – and that includes deciding whether to back tougher climate rules that could stop Osborne’s plans in their tracks. [2]

The Lib Dems will be under pressure not to back the tougher rules. Many party leaders won’t want another row with Conservatives in the government. But if they know there are thousands of us backing them to stay strong on climate, they’re much more likely to make a stand.

Can you add your name to the petition now?

To make sure every Lib Dem at the conference knows we want them to stop Osborne’s dangerous climate plans, 38 Degrees members will take our petition right to their door. They’ll be handing a copy to everyone who goes into the conference before the vote, and delivering one to Ed Davey, the climate minister, too.

There’s only one entrance – so our people-powered petition will be hard to ignore. That means most people in conference will have seen our message: Lib Dems – take a stand on climate change.

The vote is only a few days away and people will be making up their minds now, so we need to move fast. Let’s make this petition as big as possible before it’s delivered to the Lib Dems – add your name:

We know that when it comes to convincing politicians to do the right thing, people power works. From stopping the forest sell-off to convincing David Cameron to accept climate targets, 38 Degrees members have played a big role in protecting our planet. [3]

So let’s get together in our thousands and let Lib Dems know we won’t stand for Osborne tearing up climate targets. With a flood of signatures telling them to take a stand, we can make sure the vote swings the right way.

Let’s keep up the pressure to protect our climate targets. Can you sign the petition now?

Thanks for being involved,

Bex, David, Hannah and the 38 Degrees team

PS: 38 Degrees needs a new Technology Director, to make our web site and campaigns more powerful and easier to use. Could it be you or someone you know? Please help spread the word, so we can find the very best person for the job! See the details here: https://secure.38degrees.org.uk/page/s/tech-director

[1] The Independent: George Osborne slammed by his own climate change advisors over dash for gashttp://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/george-osborne-slammed-by-his-own-climate-change-advisors-over-dash-for-gas-8135035.html
The Guardian: UK dash for gas would be illegal, says climate committee http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2012/sep/13/uk-dash-gas-illegal-climate-committee
[2] The Guardian: Lib Dem activists to target George Osborne at autumn conference http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2012/sep/07/lib-dem-activists-party-conference
[3] 38 Degrees blog: Woods: we did it! http://blog.38degrees.org.uk/2012/07/05/woods-we-did-it/
Cameron to back climate targets http://blog.38degrees.org.uk/2011/05/16/cameron-to-back-climate-targets/


One response to “Are you a Liberal Democrat conference rep who went to Brighton?”

  1. 38degrees are correct that LDs voted overwhelmingly for tough carbon targets. They ignore the fact that the motion came through Policy Commitete following years of consistent commitment by LibDem on issues relating to the environment and Climate Change. Any amendments which were accepted for this motion simply reinforced it. 38 degrees came too late in the day to have any effect. They were pushing on a barn door already swinging open.
    However, 38 degrees can do a lot of good when the Energy Bill comes to the Commons in November. I have it from a very senior 'green' minister I met at Conference that the Party Leadership is convinced that the Chancellor is determined to wreck any moves to stringent carbon targets and will mobilise the 'flat earth' brigade on the Tory backbenches to try to achieve this. 38degrees could usefully direct their armchair army at the Tory backbenches and at those Labour members who still think re-opening coal mines is a good thing.

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