31 July 2009

Environmentalists under attack from the police state

For the last 15 years the Big Green Gathering has been the premier environmental festival on the UK circuit, attracting 20,000 people a year and featuring "Music, Dance, Crafts, Food and Farming, Healing, Earth Energies, Permaculture, Markets, Tipis, Fairground, Campaigns, Sustainable Homes and much more - powered by the Sun, the Wind and the People."

But not this year. Because the BGG has been cancelled on the instructions of the police:

Following threatened injunction proceedings in High Court by Mendip District Council supported by Somerset & Avon Police and having taken extensive advice from a prominent QC and other eminent lawyers, the directors of the Big Green Gathering have been left with no other option than to voluntarily surrender the license for the Big Green Gathering 2009.

The event will now not take place and the directors' advice and request is that no one intending to attend the event should attempt to do so, as the site is now closed and they are likely to be turned away by Somerset Police.

It is our intention to avoid any form of confrontation or public disorder in regard to this and it is our earnest hope that all those involved will follow this advice.

It is with great sadness that we have been forced into this position and we express our profound apologies to all those concerned.
In a scene reminiscent of China or Zimbabwe, the police state has decided that environmentalists should no longer be allowed to gather together like this as it's "unsafe" - despite the fact that it's been happening for many years without incident.

"Safety" in this case was being used by the police as a paper-thin pretext for their real motive - which is that they wanted to prevent a gathering of environmental activists in advance of the Climate Camp next month.

Whether the police are acting on their own initiative and the government has effectively lost control of law enforcement, or whether they are being pressurised to take these kinds of actions against environmentalists by the more reactionary elements of Nu Labor, is as yet unknown. What is clear is that environmental activists are now being singled out for discrimination and victimisation by the state on a regular basis.

I probably won't bother writing to my MP about this as he's a complete waste of space Tory and probably wants to lock up all environmentalists. I will be writing to the Home Secretary Alan Johnson to lobby for controls on the police so that they can't go round doing this sort of thing. Once the Labour leadership changes hands after the 2010 debacle, it's absolutely vital that the new leader takes a much more democratic and anti-authoritarian stance on civil liberties. If not, then the Green Party represents the only way forward in terms of Westminster politics.

And if there is one silver lining to this whole episode, it's that the Big Green Gathering is now much more 'on the map' than it's ever been - whilst disastrous in the short run, this dose of publicity could be vital in the long run for growing the event. I'll certainly be going along in future years. That is, of course, assuming that environmental events of this type are ever allowed in the UK again.

This whole debacle should also boost attendance at Climate Camp - although the police will of course be out in force, intimidating and assaulting people whose only crime is to want the world to still be a liveable place in 50 to 100 years' time rather than an asphyxiated oven.

2 comments:

Van Patten said...

I am assuming this is an attempt to resurrect the instant classic 'Brasseye'?

Climate change activists have been treated with something approaching reverence by almost every political party from Tory to Labour. The activities of the likes of 'Plane stupid' are headline news and for the disruption they manage to cause the penalties received are trivial.

I would be interested to see if you were amongst those who intimidated and threw missiles at the democratically elected leader of the far right BNP when he wished to make his maiden speech following the June Euro elections outside Parliament? (environmentalists are very well repesented at many such 'gatherings', as most are either working in the public sector or have 'alternative sources of income') So freedom of assembly and by extension, speech, should be extended only to those of whose policies (presumably) you approve?

I must admit to some degree of sympathy with them. If you navigate to the Mendip District Council webpage, basically it would appear that they (the BGG organisers) basically couldn't be troubled to provide a lot of safety related paperwork which would more than likely gather dust in some Wells storage facility.

However:

1/ failure to arrange for road closures - presumably on the grounds that any passing motorists are automatically enemies of the planet and therefore unworthy of any consideration?

2/ Failure to secure the services of a licensed security company? Is this because such concerns are capitalist and authoritarian?

I could go on - and recognise that such bureaucracy can be considered cumbersome. You certainly make a valid point about the event running hitherto without incident for 15 years. However, this begs the question? Surely the paperwork from last year could have been dredged up and reused/adapted?

Believe me when I say I'm no fan of local government. The amount of value for money I have receieved
from any local authority has a narrow range between zero and nil, and as part of the necessary steps to avert economic collapse, local government expenditure would be subject to cuts of between 10 and 20 billion by any UKIP administration. However, this particular body is the licensing authority for Glastonbury and arguably one of the better authorities in the UK. Quite how they (the BGG organisers) managed to make such a complete horlicks of the basic preparation necessary for even a church fete is quite beyond me.

I heartily disagree with environmentalists on almost every issue of substance and by pushing through the ludicrous 'Climate change' bill with only one opposing vote, they are effectively committing us to Third World status and two day weeks within twenty years. However, whatever your stance, the organisers are subject to the same rules governing any public gathering that you or I would be if attempting a festival of such magnitude. That the organisers consider themselves above such prosaic concerns suggest the fault lies more with them than with the colourless Mendip District council.

giroscoper said...

VP

You are living in a dreamworld.

Climate change activists have been kicked around the country by the police like a dog on a piece of string. They are victimised and humiliated on a regular basis.

I can honestly say I don't give a flying f*** about Nick Griffin's rights. He's fair game as far as I'm concerned. If you preach a message of hate, prepare to be confronted by the decent, anti-racist majority on a regular basis. Since the Anti Nazi League first took on the National Front in the seventies, this has been the way.
We can't afford to piss about with these people - give them an inch and the next thing you know it's Nazi Germany, UK remix.

It's got nothing to do with whether I approve of policies or not - it's a form of self-defence as far as I'm concerned. The BNP preaches a message of hate towards a section of British society because they happen to have a certain skin colour. I consider that a personal assault against part of our society and I stand in solidarity with those citizens and against the fascists. Because, as that German pastor said in the 1940s, "they came for the communists and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a communist, then they came for the Jews and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Jew [...] and then finally they came for me, and there was no-one left to speak up for me." It's to avoid THAT scenario that we have to take direct action against scum like Griffin.

Throwing missiles at BNP politicians is no less acceptable than using reasonable force to defend yourself against someone who comes at you with a knife for an unprovoked attack. Griffin's methods are more subtle than a random mugger's but his end objective is the same - violence and intimidation of members of our community.

Nick Griffin is (and should be) free to talk crap wherever he wants - he just shouldn't expect to be able to do it without having a lot of people turning up to contest his lies. THAT is true freedom of speech.

Mendip District Council are being used as patsies - the real people behind the cancellation of BGG were the police, and behind them, the more reactionary elements of Nu Labor. Well done for researching what the council said it was doing, but it's all kind of irrelevant.