Stansted protests

December 9, 2008 at 9:04 pm 4 comments

The march on Saturday was great fun and, interestingly in hindsight, the friend I went with and I were talking about how one of her aunts was a suffragette and while we neither of us particularly wanted to go to jail (we both have allotments that would get covered in weeds in the meantime), we quite liked to think we would if something was important enough. I spent Sunday watching pretentious films and wandering around the South Bank in search of coffee and woke up on Monday morning to hear that protestors were sitting on a runway in Stansted.

Quite apart from being shocked at how easy it had been to get in (underlining my suspicion that the draconian safety procedures were more to maintain a climate of fear than to actually improve safety in any way), I have since alternated between being bloody impressed that there actually are people who think this important enough to get arrested for and wondering if the heart-rending stories from delayed travellers the press had pounced on would do more damage to the environmental movement in the long-run. (As if, you know, it was just a handful of loony treehuggers who were opposed to airport expansion rather than, like, everybody except BA, BAA and the Cabinet.)

There has been lots of debate about it, though. I spent most of yesterday travelling to Milton Keynes and back (via a funky wool shop in London – I now have materials for the dalek!!), but today I’ve been hooked on reading BBC’s Have Your Say, Comment is Free and the Daily Mail to see what people are saying about it. Overall, there are lots of people (fewer, perhaps, on the Daily Fail website than elsewhere – though it’s interesting to see how many of the ‘damn New Labour… taking our civil liberties… we’re living in a surveillance state…’ crowd have advocated the sort of police tactics more appropriate to a military dictatorship) coming out in support of their motives, and quite a lot of people in support of their methods, but plenty of other comments calling them ‘terrorists’ and moaning about ‘the damn eco-mafia… trying to tell ME how to live my life…’

Other criticisms have included:

  • that they must all have children, and are therefore hypocrites because population is the biggest threat to the planet, and so we can discard the point they’re trying to make
  • that they must all have driven to the airport in enormous BMWs, and are therefore hypocrites because road transport is a bigger contributor to total CO2 emissions than air travel, and so we can discard the point they’re trying to make (special mention to the chap who claimed that hybrids and Priuses and things emitted more CO2 per passenger per mile than aeroplanes)
  • that they’re middle class (erm…?)
  • that they must be welfare scroungers, and all their benefits should be withdrawn as they are clearly not ‘actively looking for work’
  • that they’re ‘professional anarchists’, don’t really care about the planet but just like causing mayhem
  • that they probably fly themselves so we can just ignore them (special mention to the person who said that all young people want driving lessons and gap years so how can they lecture the older generation for messing up the planet for them)
  • it was cold yesterday morning, ergo global warming is not happening, ergo they’re idiots.

Oh, and most of them thought the protestors should compensate the people who were inconvenienced, which shows you where our collective priorities lie… Hmm, I wonder if my parents can demand compensation from Ryanair et al. for the inconvenience of being flooded and having to move out (oh, wait, they have insurance – hey, aren’t you meant to get that when you travel in case something unexpected messes up your plans?).

Entry filed under: campaigning, climate change.

“An affirming flame” Things I have learnt recently

4 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Compostwoman  |  December 9, 2008 at 10:38 pm

    Rock on!

    I agree with all you have so succinctly said.

    I think the Plane Stupid folk deserve praise for their bravery and their concern for everybody’s environment, not just their own……

  • 2. Emma  |  December 10, 2008 at 9:22 am

    i couldnt find a single positive comment about PLane Stupid anywhere on Monday!! iw as really impressed and thought that they did really well and to hear the people who were inconvenienced on the radio – well their reasons for wanting to fly just weren’t that good. heard someone saying ‘well people have important meetings to go to’

    surely a meeting cant be more important than the prospect of our country being flooded in the next 50 years!!

    anyway you put it far better than i ever could and i thought it was great. really cheered up my day! i also thought that it was wonderful to see such a thing – when in this country most people cant be bothered, it was fantastic to see people who are not sheep!!

  • 3. Dakota  |  December 10, 2008 at 10:04 pm

    *sigh* People are so quick to pounce on anything, any reason, to explain away why people are doing something (like a protest) so that they don’t have to really think about what the actual problem is. It’s sad.

    I like your comment about how perhaps people who are inconvenienced by global warming ought to be compensated…

  • 4. Lucy @ Smallest Smallholding  |  December 12, 2008 at 3:15 pm

    Have Your Comments pages do two things: give me hope whilst similtaneuously leave me reeling, with a deep sense of dissatisfaction with the human race in general. I don’t tend to realise just how many misguided/selfish/uninformed/idiotic people are out there until you read these sorts of pages. The aftermath of Hugh’s ‘Chicken Out’ campaign was a veritable feast of “Me-me-me” “don’t dictate my life” “can’t tell me what to do” type posts.

    Great, isn’t it. I never used to be this cynical!


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December 2008
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The Heritage Crafts Network

Rob Hopkins, Transition Handbook

“Environmentalists have often been guilty of presenting people with a mental image of the world’s least desirable holiday destination – some seedy bed and breakfast near Torquay, with nylon sheets, cold tea and soggy toast – and expecting them to get excited about the prospect of NOT going there. The logic and the psychology are all wrong.”

Barbara Kingsolver, Animal, Vegetable, Miracle

"Food is that rare moral arena in which the ethical choice is generally the one more likely to make you groan with pleasure."

Carlo Petrini

"A gastronome who is not also an environmentalist is an idiot. An environmentalist who is not also a gastronome is, well, sad."

Sharon Astyk

"I am, of course, firmly opposed to consumerism and corporatism in all its forms, and I believe that we are deeply confused about material needs and wants. Now let me explain how books and yarn are totally different than the material things that other people want ;-)…."

Raj Patel, at Slow Food Nation

"Biofuels, which is the preposterous policy that we should grow food not to eat it but to set it on fire."

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