David Levy – Its mine, and you can’t play with it – Sep 18

I have tried in earlier blogs to explain why it is that NGOs find it almost impossible to work together for solutions.

The scarcity of actual campaigning issues which do not infringe charitable status is an issue in itself. Only when Government wants NGOs to support an issue, such as Climate Change or Brexit, can all the NGOs unleash their efforts. However such issues are few and far apart.

Therefore when things like beach litter, plastics in the environment and carbon reduction targets are highlighted, the NGOs become very territorial and can hardly raise a joint statement let alone joint campaigning.

Marinet, with its wealth of knowledge, has recently tried joint-working with two regional campaigns and local groups. We were approached by both and we took time to meet with these groups and to share with them our experience of the manner in which campaigning could take place.

Both were aghast at the story we had to tell them. Yet both believed that with sound rational reasoning they would win the day. Equally, as the issue expanded and the design of consultation became closer to their minds, they clung on to the very English belief system that surely “right would win out”.

In one case when “right” did not win out, the group became unfocused and was playing catch-up as they sought legal advice. They even came back to us asking for our view, having abandoned collaboration with us half way through the decision stage of the application.

I have to say, if they had worked with us solidly they’d have realised we had a legal position that could have stymied the MMO legally. Instead the group decided to go their own way and it appears were not expecting to lose, so now appear lost.

The other group was so appalled by what we had to tell them about local politics and the planning system that they too played by the rules and, with hard work and self determined action, got a first round defeat for a local incinerator build.

So what am I concerned about, you may well ask?

Well the answer is in the fact that this second group feel the fight is over and they are not prepared for the next stages of the fight, most of which will happen in arenas they are ill prepared for. Like children, they will have to learn from their mistakes.

Enough to say — this is their toy and they have not wanted to play with others, despite fair warning.

David Levy


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