MP challenges are daunting, but I’m so glad I stepped up
In October, I challenged Mhairi Black MP alongside Phoebe, Jasmin, and Calum, to oppose the Cambo Oil Field and back the Green New Deal.
I joined GND Rising after seeing an action they took outside Parliament in London. I have been concerned about the climate crisis for years, but during the pandemic I realised I couldn't just read about it, I had to actually do something. So I joined a welcome call and left feeling hopeful about the future of the crisis.
When I saw there was an action happening in Paisley I jumped on it. I had initially signed up to provide support for the challenge. I know I’m nervous speaking to people I don’t know and initially I couldn’t be there that night, but I wanted to help out where I could. But as the challenge grew closer, we didn’t have a challenger in place.
At the thought of the challenge falling through my thoughts were going a million miles an hour. How can we not have a challenger? If this doesn’t happen, who else is going to step forward? We don’t have time for this to not happen, people are already being impacted. Why is no-one stepping forward? I recognised my own privilege, that I had weighed my fear of challenging an MP over the pain and suffering that this crisis is already causing. In a moment of anger (and a bit of hope) I volunteered to be the challenger.
I instantly wanted to pull out. I kept thinking “I’m terrible at public speaking.”, “I’m not confident”, “I’m going to mess this up,” “What am I doing?”. But I kept remembering my motivation for signing up. I couldn’t justify backing out.
So I made it work. I met the amazing team to plan everything, swapped my shift, watched the training, and rehearsed what I was going to say. The more I heard from the team the more inspired I was to make this challenge work, and the fear was slowly replaced with hope.
The challenge took place at the end of an event hosted by Kairos Women+. We heard about how people in the local community, especially women and non-binary people faced challenges in their daily lives in the face of poverty. In spite of this, they banded together: educating and finding support in one another, forming free groups for their children, and more. This event, and cause, was proof that community organising works.
During Mhairi’s speech the nerves began, and I focussed on keeping calm, my breathing steady, etc. I remember Mhairi’s honesty and that she said she wanted people to challenge her, she didn’t want her constituents to wait until it was a big problem before going to her. (This obviously isn’t the case with every MP!)
During the challenge I was running on adrenaline. I felt excited, nervous, a bit sick, but hopeful. Mhairi opposed the Cambo oil field, and afterwards said she would back the Green New Deal Bill. It was over quicker than I expected, and was nowhere near as terrifying as I had made it out in my head!
When we left we were all ecstatic. We had done it! A successful challenge! I cannot emphasise enough how amazing the team was in supporting me. Without Charlotte, Phoebe, Jasmin, and Calum egging me on I would have walked out, and there would have to be another Mhairi Black challenge.
I’m not an exceptional person with a load of confidence, but as part of GND Rising and with the help of the team we did something exceptional. The challenges are daunting and scary, but with the support of a team anything is possible.
This crisis needs action now, and with GND Rising I’m hopeful we’ll get there.
Want to challenge yourself and your MP, like Chloe did? Your first step is to join us at one of our Welcome Calls!
Sign up now to get involved in December: