There are plenty of reasons why MPs were unable to attend the Walk for Wildlife in London on Saturday – and plenty of good reasons too. And there are plenty of good reasons why lots of other supporters of the event were unable to attend.
But of the nearly 40 MPs who have signed up to be champions for wildlife, only two: Caroline Lucas (pictured above with Sian Berry and Chris Packham) and Kerry McCarthy (neither of whom have London constituencies, please note) were present on Saturday (unless you can tell me otherwise, of course (no one has reported any other MP sightings so far)).
I’m being told by many readers of this blog that they have contacted their MPs already to ask for their comments on, and support for, the Manifesto for Wildlife. thank you all who have already done this, and those who will get around to doing it soon.
You shouldn’t expect a very rapid response from your MP – I would expect that most replies will start to emerge in a couple of weeks, but the Labour and Conservative party conferences might add a bit of time onto that.
And the delay might be advantageous too. If enough of us write soon then the message will get around the main parties and there will be a ‘party line’ developed so that we’ll all get rather similar responses depending on the political party of our MPs. This might seem less personal (although you’ll only know if we compare notes) but it is actually a sign of success – it will mean that the number of enquiries has triggered some thought about the subject – and that is what we want. Which political party will give the Manifesto for Wildlife the biggest brush off? We’ll find out soon – and there may be a general election not so far away.
Back to the Species ‘Champions’. It comes as no great surprise that the ‘champion’ for the Bittern didn’t turn up to Walk for Wildlife. People would have fainted if they had seen the most unengaged biodiversity minister of all time, Therese Coffey, in Hyde Park with real wildlife enthusiasts. As I wrote last year, it remains to be seen whether MPs have become species champions to benefit wildlife or to benefit their own careers and profiles from an apparent interest in wildlife.
If any of these ‘champions’ is your MP then please write to them to give them the chance to stand up for wildlife by responding to your questions about what they think of the Manifesto for Wildlife (see here for some help in writing your email or letter).
Photo: back of the camera shot Andy Rouse