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And there shall be no barriers to a clear heart…

Troublesome Words would like to extend its heartfelt congratulations to Simon, Richard, and Rich, at the news that their jail sentences were successfully overturned today by hardworking Kirsty Brimelow QC.

It’s not often that you get good activist news, especially for those of us interested in environmentalism – but this one is a take-home, put-the-kettle-on, and play-some-loud-music with 😀

As you may have heard… Hydraulic Fracking is the latest extractive industry on the block, arguably designed as a means for generally small [ed. what they call ‘agile’ companies in the lingo…] industry firms to benefit from massive corporate backing, as well as state regulatory support to override local communities and democracies.

One of the principle ‘first’ sites for fracking company Cuadrilla in the UK has been the Preston New Road site in Lancashire (where the acts of civil disobedience took place) and has understandably become a focal point for the struggle against this industry. The license to explore and extract for natural gas was denied to Cuadrilla by the Lancashire County Council – but their ruling was ignored by the Home Secretary*

Manifestly Excessive

What you might be surprised to hear is what these three young gentlemen did – sit on the cab of a truck transporting fracking materials to Preston New Road site. That’s all.

There was no damage done to either vehicle or private property, no intimidating behavior, violence or threats of violence were ever displayed. They may have sung some songs.

For this tardiness the presiding Judge Altham at their original court case gave each of the men nearly a year and a half in prison (16, 16, and 15 months) in the first ever custodial sentence given to nonviolent, non-damaging environmental protests since the mass trespass of Kinder Scout, 1932!

It has since been argued that Judge Altham’s family connections to the shale gas industry may have influenced his decision. As it was, the Lord Chief Justice Ian Burnett quashed those custodial sentences at Appeal Court today and instead gave conditional discharges to all three men, and is quoted by news site DrillorDrop as saying;

Immediate custodial sentences in this case were manifestly excessive.

Read More →

Woke Up This Mornin’…

Hearing Iain Duncan Smith complain about Britain’s ‘unskilled workforce’ is pretty gross, when you remember the fact that he was a part of the Government that raised Tuition Fees from 3k to a whopping 9k; then didn’t attempt to regulate the courses offered; cut working-age benefits so that workers couldn’t afford to take out the time to upskill; cut child allowances; cut funding to Councils so that they couldn’t afford to provide local training schemes…

Instead, the CSJ (Centre for Social Justice) Foundation, which is a right-wing Think Tank set-up and chaired by Mr. Smith[*], has called for more investment from business in retraining schemes[**], hatewashing the problems of austerity by claiming that ‘Britain has an addiction to foreign unskilled labour’… Apart from the clear ‘blame it on the migrants’ positioning, what makes this announcement doubly odious is that, if we look at it Mr. Smith seems to be suggesting that his Party has gone to great lengths to create the UK’s very own, home-grown unskilled workforce – and would private capital like to do what they want with them?

At the end of the day whether working or not, UK citizen or not – the problem is austerity, and the disembowelment of the social contract.

Grr.

[*] For further analysis on the CJS and in particular the neoliberal principles behind it, see this piece in New Left Project.

[**] As reported in the Daily and Sunday Express.

 

Radical Film Night #2: Protecting Country

Friday nights around these parts are film nights, so following on from our earlier offering on Mwni Wiconi & the Black Snake, here’s another indy docu film about the clash of First Nations lifeways and capital.

 

I think that the importance of hearing these Adnyamathanha and other voices cannot be overstated, not if we are in any way interested in activism, environmentalism, cultural or critical thought.

  • It’s a depressing conclusion, but it’s worth thinking about whether the colonizing Empire ever really went away, or whether it exchanged its bayonets and rifles for stocks and shares. [the Maralinga Tests] How different are events like this, happening in the 21stC, from 19thC governments deciding to clear indigenous people from profitable land? Or the Inclosures Acts?
  • Listening to this story makes me think about the UK’s own struggles between environment and capital – Cumbria and the Scottish Western Isles (possibly Wylfa B on Anglesey) being the future storage sites for toxic sludge – as well as the omnipresent fracking threat happening everywhere. How different these struggles might be if we had a more living and lived connection to Country; its importance, its stories, and our responsibilities to it.
  • But because I like to end these things on a positive note: I remain heartened by this struggle – the importance of the Adnyamathanha stories, as well as the Mwni Wiconi awareness that is standing against DAPL, Keystone XL and the Alberta Tar Sands. It feels like the environmental movement is done with trying to argue with capital in the language of capital – statistics show this, they have to prove that a certain site is of especial rare scientific interest before it gets a reprieve…
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