David Levy – Is there a reason why NGO campaigns deliver so few successful results? – Nov 2013

As I sit here and write this blog, I do so knowing that the vote took place yesterday by MEPs on the subject of European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF) Subsidies.

The Marinet campaign on reform of EMFF fishing subsidies has been led by John Stansfield, and his contribution to the principles of the campaign has been unique and imaginative. If successful, he will have demonstrated to me clearly that there exists new ways of applying pressure in the political arena.

In this instance John has endeavoured to show to the MEPs that their vote was being undermined by the national interests of the French Fishing Industry, and that they could lose their right to vote on the whole fishing subsidy issue. John will tell you the details in his blog, but for my part, whether it proves to be success or failure, we in Marinet could not have done more — at least, not without the massive support from marine partners.

Thinking further on the issue of partnerships, I have to reflect on two things.

Firstly, the meeting of ex-FOE Executive Directors at the FOE Local Groups Conference two years ago when they raised the thorny issue of: why is it that NGO Groups do not work collaboratively on the urgent issues?

The second reflection comes about from sharing, in part, a speaking tour with Black Fish, and what I had gained from doing the Bristol and Bath meetings with Black Fish. For me, the exciting aspect of these events are the audience questions, and guess what the number one question from these audiences was… !

“Why, when things are so urgent, do we not see the big NGOs working together?”

I have been around observing the reasons and background to this question, whilst campaigners and concerned people have wrestled with the failure of the big NGO organisations to hold the governments of both this country and those across Europe to account.

Unity between these NGOs has failed to materialise on a multitude of issues. Yet, unity of objection has come when their freedoms of lobbying have been called into question.

Meanwhile, at the same time — by coincidence, sic — energy price hikes and nuclear new build have slipped by with hardly a mention.

Maybe I am just a cynic, but I feel the government has planted red herrings to occupy us whilst important issues slip by our radars.

This experience has certainly demonstrated to me where our priorities lie.

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