Monday, 21 May 2001

General Election 2001


Although Tony Blair does not have to call the next general election for over a year yet, the smart money is on a May poll (another fuel crisis notwithstanding). Elections provide a great opportunity to get the politicians to pay some attention to the environment, and perhaps even to commit themselves to green policies.

The Green X Code Campaign is being organised by FOE with this in mind. In the run up to the election prospective parliamentary candidates (PPCs) will be asked to sign up to five targets relating to waste, transport, food, climate change and business. Their commitment to these targets will be solid evidence of their environmental credentials - and a useful pledge to hold them to if they are elected.

The five key targets are-

Waste
Provide every household with quality doorstep recycling ensuring no new incinerators are needed and half our waste is recycled by 2010.

Transport
Treble investment in buses and traffic-calming by 2005 so that everyone has access to regular public transport and can live in a safe street.

Food
Make biotech companies responsible for any harm caused by genetically modified crops and foods by introducing strict liability legislation.

Climate change
Protect the world’s climate by cutting CO2 emissions by 20% and generating 20% of electricity from renewable sources by 2010.

Business
Make businesses accountable to society by requiring Directors to report on, and take into account, their environmental and social impacts.

Local groups will be the key to the success of this campaign. In the run up to an election PPCs are only likely to be interested in your opinions if you can vote for them. As constituents, and potential voters, local members have a very special place in the hearts of PPCs. We can use this influence to ensure that candidates in and around Sheffield state unequivocally whether they support these five targets.
What constituency are you in? Who is your MP? Who will be representing the main parties at the next election? Are there any local issues that carry a special resonance with any of the key targets? The general election marks a rare opportunity for us to be heard by our elected representatives.

The campaign will begin in February. The essential element will be a postcard with the five targets written on it. PPCs will be asked to sign up to as many of the targets as they can. The more postcards completed, the more commitments made, the better.

Signing the postcard will also be a good opportunity to generate some publicity (for both candidates and FOE). Photographs, street stalls or even public meetings could be used to increase public interest and ensure that pledges are not forgotten. Then the campaign itself will offer more opportunities to reinforce our message- using “telephone trees” to tell local members when politicians are campaigning in the vicinity, and “canvassing the canvassers”- Instead of hiding when they call, why not give them a postcard and ask that the candidate respond in person?

The success of this campaign depends on the amount of pressure, publicity and (most importantly) postcards we can produce. Lots of postcards from local sources will convince PPCs that this is a campaign they must respond to. Do you want to get involved? Whether you just want a supply of postcards to hand out, or you fancy yourself as the next Paxman  - contact Steve Goodacre of Sheffield FOE for details (0114 267 0508 or steveg@doctors.org.uk).