We lobbied hard and succeeded. Our local team will now meet the winner, Emma Reynolds.
Steve Baker Watch isn’t our only group across the country. We now have five other organisations – including Mogg Watch in North East Somerset, aiming to draw attention to Jacob Rees Mogg’s policy positions.
His seat is safer, but many hope we can achieve a “Portillo moment” and oust him too.
We plan to launch at least one new group every month for the next year and open crowdfunding for MP Watch, a nationally coordinated network.
So far, our focus has been on eliminating climate deniers. But what if, at the next election, there was a group in every constituency that pushed hard for local politicians to achieve net-zero climate emissions and held them accountable when they underperformed?
People love our campaign because it’s simple. We Ask: Do Your Members of Congress Represent Your Climate Views? They work for us, so if you don’t like what they do, let them make a change. Or change your MP.
This straightforward approach is empowering. And reactivate two areas that are prone to despair: climate and democracy.
Jon Alexander in his recent book citizen Point out that we will have to abandon the consumer model of democracy in favor of something more participatory.
In the consumer model, you vote in a similar way to buying a Christmas gift: inspect the item against the overblown claim on the box, make the purchase, and then have up to five years to regret your choice.
Instead, Alexander advocates a model of citizenship in which we can take a more active role in participating in and shaping the local and national political landscape.
Most of us feel time-poor and probably don’t like the idea of it. But we’ve seen what happens when we’re not paying attention.
We’re struggling in atomized homes where everyone has washing machines, TVs, and coffee makers, and it feels like no one is loved.
The rich stop paying taxes, siphon profits from utilities, and rob us of our tax dollars. The NHS is quietly being privatized.
The planet has degraded to the point that our life on it has become virtually unsustainable. Apparently the consumer pattern is outdated?
I can already hear objections. For example, where will the army needed to help this transition come from? Even in our more bewildered moments, we at MP Watch know we can’t do it alone.
But the good news is that many other groups are thinking in similar ways.
The people we believe we need are already in local environmental and political groups across the country e.g. Labour’s Green New Deal, Transition Towns, The Climate Party, Stripping groups, Community Climate Action, Zero Hour, GreensCAN, RSPB, National Trust, Nature Lovers And the local Extinction Rebellion and Stop Oil groups.
And of course the venerable Green Party. In fact, some Green Party candidates may consider sitting on the sidelines in this election — so as not to split the progressive vote.
How much better would it be to actively support this neighborly and nonpartisan initiative with its considerable organizational power?
At a time when the world fails to address the urgency of net zero carbon, it’s worth a try. Let’s follow Australia’s teal movement and really fight for it. Let’s make climate ignorance a thing of the past.
Jessica Townsend is the co-founder of MP Watch.