Essay Competition: “What Must They Say?”

In an emergency, leaders have to explain what is going on.

They have to explain both the causes of the emergency, and the actions that need to be taken.  They need to galvanise doubters, clear up confusion, give direction. They need to… lead.

Silence is not leadership. Only speaking to those who already agree that action must be taken right away is not leadership.

We need, in Manchester, on climate change,  leadership.

That’s where you come in.

We need you to write the speech that the leaders of Manchester City Council  have not given, and show no signs of giving soon.

A recent Freedom of Information Act request answer shows that Richard Leese has given precisely zero speeches on the climate emergency

Another FOIA shows that the Chief Executive Officer, Joanne Roney, has given no speeches focussed on the climate emergency (but spoke to two already-aware audiences).

A third FOIA shows that the Executive Member for the Environment has only spoken to six audiences, already sold on action.

We want you to write the speech you think our leaders need to give to a ‘general’ audience, to inspire and galvanise the city towards a socially just, rapid shift to a zero-carbon economy and society well before 2038; a shift that needs to be well under way in the next 18 months. Such a speech needs to shows real leadership, in showing how peoples’ lives could be better, without sugar-coating the difficulties and huge changes that must lie ahead.

You have one month: entries will close on 1st April 2020 at 12 noon. That’s not long, but this is an emergency.

Full terms and conditions to follow shortly. For now, this

  • entries must be in English, and no longer than 1,500 words
  • you have to live, work or study within the physical boundaries of Manchester City Council (i.e. be eligible to sign that petition we are banging on about)
  • entries must be in an email (no word docs/PDFs) sent to along with the entrants name, email address and mobile phone number (these will not be shared with judges, nor stored beyond the date of the prize announcements. We will NOT add you to any database)
  • only one entry per person
  • joint entries are allowed, but if entering a joint entry people cannot also submit an individual entry
  • There will be two categories – one for 18 and under, one for over 18s (on the day the competition closes, 1st April)
  • There will be a prize of £30 for the best entry in the 18 and under category, with the winner able to nominate a Manchester charity or campaigning group (does NOT have to be climate change) to receive £30 as well
  • There will be a prize of £50 for the best entry in the over 18 category, with the winner able to nominate a Manchester charity or campaigning group (does NOT have to be climate change) to receive £50 as well)
  • In both cases, if the winner is a joint entry, that prize will be shared by the entrants in a manner they see fit
  • The competition will be judged by an independent panel – details to be announced soon. Judges decision final, no correspondence entered into etc
  • Winners retain their copyright, but agree that their entries will be published within the third Hung Drawn and Quarterly report, to be released on or about 10th April.
  • Winners will be announced on the day that the next Hung Drawn and Quarterly report is released
  • Core group members of CEM and their spouses / partners cannot enter the competition. Members of the Executive and SMT of Manchester City Council are also ineligible.  Backbencher councillors are very eligible and very welcome to take part.


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