Hope for the Future 3/3

Eighteen months ago I was contacted by Laura D’Hennin from Hope for the Future, a climate change campaign group set up raise awareness around this issue, as well as to encourage people to engage with and lobby their MPs.  You can find out more about Hope for the Future’s inspiring work on their website, www.hftf.org.uk and Laura’s thoughts on our first meeting at www.hftf.org.uk/blog/2016/10/12/a-challenge-to-the-climate-movement-mee….

We met up again recently to discuss climate change and afterwards were asked about the best way to lobby your MP.

 

Voice: And in your experience, what’s the most effective way to build a good working relationship with your MP, or Assembly Member, or Councillor or elected representative?

Laura: A big thing for Hope for the Future is to do a bit of research about your MP before you go and visit them {laughter} just in terms of their general interest.  So I knew that Guto had an interest in Swansea Bay Tidal Lagoon, and the first time that I met Guto I brought this up as a way of generating a good conversation in our first meeting, by showing him that I was also interested in this.  Then we moved on with this conversation, and I think, as Guto was saying before, because he deals with so many issues on a day to day basis, if you can have a specific thing that you can ask your MP to do, such as ‘can you ask this’, ‘mention this’ or ‘sign this petition’ sort of thing, it gives you some sort of an outcome from the meeting, and something simple for your MP.  And also - correct me if I’m wrong – if you can give your MP some information about an issue in your constituency, perhaps if I came to you and said ‘this amount of people are suffering from fuel poverty, this is the economic burden, this is what we can do, it kind of gives you an incentive to work on it, and it’s a local issue where we can see local action.

Guto: I think that’s a very good point, actually, and it’s interesting that you mentioned that, because I remember when I joined an all-party parliamentary group – which are MPs from all parties who have an interest in an issue joining together – and one of the ones that I joined as a direct result of someone coming to see me in my constituency was one about rural fuel poverty. As you’ll know well, if you look at the Conwy valley, you’re not on the gas grid, so your options in terms of heating might be: coal, which is not great and is quite expensive, it might be LPG bottled gas, which is very expensive, and not very efficient, or electricity, which is not ideal, and again if you’re heating your house with electricity it can be very costly.  And of course, none of the three options are particularly environmentally friendly. So one of the things that I did very soon after being elected, as a result of someone coming to see me, highlighting some of these issues, was to join the all-party group, and the group has been campaigning on various issues to try and tackle the challenges of rural deprivation when it comes to issues such as energy poverty, which is a big issue.  So if you come along and highlight an issue – and to be perfectly frank, I hadn’t really thought very hard about the issue of whether or not we had a specific problem in terms of energy deprivation and energy poverty in Aberconwy until somebody came along.  So that’s a great example of how we can make a difference.

In terms of how you communicate with your MP, I would say – in my case, I always welcome face to face meetings, I have no doubt that the team who work for me will try to resolve any problems you may have even before you see me, but even if you wanted to come in and have a general chat about a certain issue, even if I don’t agree, I’m more than happy to see people. In the same way, letters and e-mails are always welcome.  I think that we have a good track record in this office of responding to all letters and responding to all e-mails. The one thing that I would say is (which is a bugbear of mine) is when I get hundreds of e-mails about the same issue – mass e-mails, and the reason why that’s annoying from my perspective is that I’m not convinced that shows a huge degree of interest in the subject. It strikes me that it’s very easy just to sign off on an electronic e-mail, and then the ones that really do make me despair are the ones that are entitled ‘Dear [insert name of MP here]’.  And if you’re doing that, if you’re sending me an e-mail – let’s say, about the refugee crisis – and you’re saying ‘Dear [insert name of MP here]’, am I really going to take the view that you’re serious about that matter?  I’m not sure.  If, on the other hand, a group of local church people come to see me – and I have had this, about the refugee crisis, when 20 of them turned up at my office – do I take that seriously?  Of course I do.  So, I think in terms of e-mailing, of course you can e-mail, and I always respond to e-mails, and sometimes respond robustly to e-mails, but those mass mailshot e-mails are not as effective as people think they are.

 

 

Ddeunaw mis yn ôl cefais ohebiaeth gan Laura D'Hennin o Hope for the Future, grŵp ymgyrchu ar newid yn yr hinsawdd a sefydlwyd i godi ymwybyddiaeth o'r mater hwn, yn ogystal ag annog pobl i ymgysylltu â'u Haelodau Seneddol a'u lobïo.  Cewch ragor o wybodaeth am waith ysbrydoledig Hope for the Future ar eu gwefan, www.hftf.org.uk a theimladau Laura am ein cyfarfod cyntaf yn www.hftf.org.uk/blog/2016/10/12/a-challenge-to-the-climate-movement-mee….

Fe wnaethom gyfarfod eto'n ddiweddar i drafod y newid yn yr hinsawdd, ac yn dilyn hynny buom yn trafod y ffordd orau o lobïo eich Aelod Seneddol.

 

Llais: Ac yn eich profiad chi, beth yw'r ffordd fwyaf effeithiol o feithrin perthynas waith dda gyda'ch Aelod Seneddol, neu Aelod Cynulliad, neu Gynghorydd neu gynrychiolydd etholedig?

Laura: Un peth mawr i Hope for the Future yw gwneud ychydig o waith ymchwil am eich Aelod Seneddol cyn i chi ymweld ag ef neu hi  {chwerthin} o ran eu diddordebau cyffredinol. Felly, roeddwn i'n gwybod fod gan Guto ddiddordeb ym Morlyn Llanw Bae Abertawe, a'r tro cyntaf y gwnes i gyfarfod Guto fe wnes i gyfeirio at hyn fel ffordd o gychwyn sgwrs yn ein cyfarfod cyntaf, drwy ddangos iddo fod gennyf innau ddiddordeb hefyd. Yna fe wnaethom ni symud ymlaen gyda'r sgwrs hon. Rydw i’n credu, fel y dywedodd Guto o'r blaen, oherwydd ei fod yn delio â chymaint o faterion o ddydd i ddydd, os gallwch chi gael rhywbeth penodol y gallwch chi ofyn i'ch Aelod Seneddol ei wneud, fel 'a allwch chi ofyn am hyn', 'a allwch chi sôn am hyn' neu 'a allwch chi arwyddo'r ddeiseb hon', mae'n rhoi rhyw fath o ganlyniad i chi o'r cyfarfod, a rhywbeth syml i'ch Aelod Seneddol ddelio ag ef. A hefyd - cywirwch fi os ydw i'n anghywir - os gallwch chi roi rhywfaint o wybodaeth i'ch Aelod Seneddol am fater yn eich etholaeth – er enghraifft, pe bawn i’n dod atoch chi a dweud 'bod hyn a hyn o bobl yn dioddef o dlodi tanwydd, dyma'r baich economaidd, dyma beth allwn ni ei wneud’, mae'n rhywbeth sy'n rhoi cymhelliad i chi weithio arno, ac mae'n fater lleol lle gallwn ni weld camau gweithredu lleol.

Guto: Rydw i'n meddwl bod hynny'n bwynt da iawn, mewn gwirionedd, ac mae'n ddiddorol eich bod chi wedi sôn am hynny, oherwydd dwi'n cofio pan ymunais i â grŵp seneddol hollbleidiol - sef Aelodau Seneddol o bob plaid sydd â diddordeb mewn mater penodol yn dod at ei gilydd - ac un o’r rhai y gwnes i ymuno â nhw o ganlyniad uniongyrchol i rywun yn dod i fy ngweld yn fy etholaeth oedd tlodi tanwydd gwledig. Fel y gwyddoch chi'n dda, os edrychwch chi ar Ddyffryn Conwy, nid ydym ni ar y grid nwy, felly mae’n bosibl mai eich dewisiadau o ran gwresogi yw: glo, nad yw'n wych ac sy’n eithaf drud, nwy LPG mewn poteli, o bosib, sy'n ddrud iawn, ac nad yw'n effeithlon iawn, neu drydan, nad yw'n ddelfrydol, ac unwaith eto, os ydych chi'n gwresogi eich tŷ gyda thrydan, gall fod yn gostus iawn. Ac wrth gwrs, nid yw'r un o'r tri dewis yn arbennig o gyfeillgar i'r amgylchedd. Felly, un o'r pethau a wnes i yn fuan ar ôl cael fy ethol, o ganlyniad i rywun yn dod i'm gweld i dynnu sylw at rai o'r materion hyn, oedd ymuno â'r grŵp hollbleidiol, ac mae'r grŵp wedi bod yn ymgyrchu ar faterion amrywiol i geisio a mynd i'r afael â heriau amddifadedd gwledig fel tlodi ynni, sy'n fater mawr. Felly, os dewch chi draw i dynnu sylw at broblem - ac a bod yn onest, doeddwn i ddim wedi meddwl yn galed iawn ynglŷn â ph'un a oedd gennym ni broblem benodol o ran amddifadedd ynni a thlodi ynni yn Aberconwy ai peidio nes i rywun ddod i’m gweld i. Felly, mae hynny'n enghraifft wych o sut y gallwn ni wneud gwahaniaeth.

O ran sut rydych chi'n cyfathrebu â'ch Aelod Seneddol, fe fyddwn i’n dweud - yn fy achos i, fy mod i bob amser yn croesawu cyfarfodydd wyneb yn wyneb. Mae’n siŵr gen i y bydd y tîm sy'n gweithio i mi wedi ceisio datrys unrhyw broblem sydd gennych chi hyd yn oed cyn i chi fy ngweld fi, ond hyd yn oed os oeddech chi eisiau dod i mewn a chael sgwrs gyffredinol am fater penodol, hyd yn oed os nad ydw i’n cytuno â chi, rydw i'n fwy na bodlon gweld pobl. Yn yr un modd, mae croeso i lythyrau ac e-byst bob tro. Rydw i o’r farn fod gennym ni enw da yn y swyddfa hon am ymateb i bob llythyr ac ymateb i bob e-bost. Yr un peth y byddwn i'n ei ddweud (rywbeth bach sy’n peri diflastod i mi) ydi pan fyddaf yn cael cannoedd o negeseuon e-bost am yr un mater – y negeseuon e-bost torfol, a'r rheswm pam mae hynny'n fy mlino i ydi nad ydw i’n argyhoeddedig bod yna ddiddordeb mawr iawn yn y pwnc y tu ôl i’r rheiny. I mi, mae’n hawdd iawn llofnodi e-bost electronig, ac yna'r rhai sydd wir yn gwneud i mi dynnu gwallt fy mhen ydi’r rhai sy’n dechrau gydag 'Annwyl [rhowch enw'r Aelod Seneddol yma]'. Ac os ydych chi'n gwneud hynny, os ydych chi'n anfon e-bost ataf - am yr argyfwng ffoaduriaid, dywedwch - ac rydych chi'n dweud 'Annwyl [rhowch enw'r Aelod Seneddol yma]', a ydw i o ddifrif yn mynd i feddwl bod y mater hwnnw yn agos iawn at eich calon? Dydw i ddim yn siŵr. Os, ar y llaw arall, y daw grŵp o bobl o eglwys leol i'm gweld i - ac mae hyn wedi digwydd, am yr argyfwng ffoaduriaid, pan ddaeth 20 ohonyn nhw i fy swyddfa - ydw i'n cymryd hynny o ddifrif? Wrth gwrs fy mod i. Felly, o ran e-bostio, wrth gwrs, mi allwch chi e-bostio, ac rydw i bob amser yn ymateb i negeseuon e-bost (ac weithiau’n ymateb yn gadarn i e-byst), ond nid ydi'r negeseuon e-bost torfol hynny mor effeithiol ag y mae pobl yn ei feddwl.