Green politics, philosophy, history, paganism and a lot of self righteous grandstanding.

Sunday, 21 September 2014

Speech to Manchester People's Climate March

Watch it on Youtube

We are all part of the largest mobilisation about Climate Change ever.

Believe me, there is nothing we could be doing that is more important than being right here, right now.

Five years ago, after the last UN meeting to discuss Climate Change in Copenhagen, the G77 described the outcome as “a suicide pact”. We must do better this time.

So today we make history, because otherwise our civilization becomes history.

Here, in the Northwest of England, the key battle in the fight against Climate Change is fracking. If we can win this we will have killed off a new fossil fuel before it has even got going. That will be something.

Photo Steven Speed
Those of us at Barton Moss last winter were in the front line of that fight. We did well. I don't think Igas are coming back to Manchester in a hurry.

But the amazing thing to me about all this is that whilst we’ve had Direct Action like at Barton Moss, we’ve had rallies like this, we had people camping out through the worst weather imaginable, we had people in front of lorries every day for four months, we had an entire community rallying round to support the Protectors, we had the police bending the law in every way and apparently inventing a terrorist attack to frame us, but we have never had a political debate about fracking. Salford City council would not debate our petition. Trafford Council would not debate their motion. If you want to pay £350 for a ticket you can go along to Media City on Friday to meet the fracking industry, but they don’t really want to meet you.

Two thirds of the country is at risk of fracking whilst Climate Change will affect the whole world. The first step to beating the latter is to ban the former. The science is quite clear on this and we, the people are quite clear. But like so much of British politics, it seems we don't have a voice.
The Labour Party Conference will not decide the Party policy on fracking because that’s not what Party Conferences do any more. Wherever the meetings are being held to discuss the issue, you’re not invited. 

Frankly Britain, this is rubbish. You should not have to stand in front of a lorry or pay three hundred quid to make your voice heard in a debate of national…international importance. Politics should be more than just money talking to power. 

We have been locked out of the politics, and as Plato said the penalty for not being engaged with politics is that you end up governed by your inferiors.

So the Labour Party must listen to us on this one. You cannot bring a new fossil fuel online in the next decade and still keep our promises on Climate Change. You cannot condemn two thirds of Britain to air and water pollution and still pretend you are the same party that introduced National Parks and the Greenbelt.

Yes, that was the Labour Party. Clement Attlee’s 1945 Ministry.

Let me give you a bit more history, there’s plenty of it here in this, the first city of the Industrial Revolution, where the our first canal was dug, the world’s first railway station constructed, where the atom was first split and the first stored-program computer built.

The Midland Hotel, where the party conference is taking place, is where in 1904 Charles Rolls first met Henry Royce. Together they revolutionised the British car industry, something which barely exists today. 

It seems an unusual meeting now. Rolls, the money man, came up from London to meet Royce, the engineer with a factory in Trafford Park. I don’t think it would happen that way round today.

Today the City rules and manufacturing, which made this city great, has been liquidated executive bonuses. 

Today we have an economy that is prepared to sacrifice the climate in order to save the banks.
But today we make history. Today we stop saying what we don’t want and start to demand what we need to survive the future.

We need a new Industrial Revolution, one that will provide the wind turbines, the solar panel, the trains, the electric cars and the other technology that will give us a cleaner, brighter future.
We want an economy that will provide jobs, real jobs, not the temporary work for a few international contractors that the fracking industry offers, but jobs for Trade Union members like those who are supporting this march today.

To make that happen we need to reclaim politics for the people, because when you put a big decision like how to beat Climate Change in the hands of the many, there are many winners but if you let just a few decide, nobody wins. It just becomes a case who loses first. 

The first step in reclaiming the politics is reclaiming the Labour Party, the party that in 1945 really was the Greenest Government Ever. Climate Change is the issue that will tell us whether they have listened. When they agree to oppose Tory plans to frack under our homes without our permission, when they agree to ban fracking, and when they agree to give us One Million Climate jobs instead, then we will know we have reclaimed the power.

It will happen, because we are the people and when we use our voices in the right way we are unstoppable.

No comments: