Plane stupid

Submitted by cathy n on 3 August, 2007 - 12:54

By Louise Gold

Between 14-21 August “The Camp for Climate Action” will make its bid for the world’s attention to the effects and causes of climate change, somewhere along the fringes of Heathrow airport.

The organisers’ aims are to highlight aviation as “the fastest growing source of greenhouse gas emissions in the UK”; and Heathrow as “the heart of the UK’s aviation industry”. The location and timing of the camp, whilst government plans are set to expand Heathrow through local villages and communities, is “an opportunity to highlight bias in the corrupt planning process in favour of big business and development”.

BAA which runs Heathrow, sought to restrict the movement of up to five million people with the recent injunction it wanted against the camp. John Vidal in the Guardian was quick to point out the harmlessness of the people BAA want to hold “legally and financially responsible for any disruption that may be caused by protests...” People like, Geraldine Nicholson, “a local woman married to a policeman, who runs the local protest group... She wants people to know that her village will be obliterated by Heathrow’s expansion.”

But everybody’s democracy and civil liberties are being threatened. The injunction BAA attempted to achieve would “prevent local people travelling to and from their homes… travelling on sections of the M4 and the M25; it would prevent National Trust members from using the Heathrow Express and make it an offence for… anyone in the Woodland Trust, Greenpeace, CPRE, Friends of the Earth or a host of other environment groups even to carry a balloon on the Piccadilly Line.”

Instead the injunction BAA have won bans on three leading campaigners. The campaign Plane Stupid was also covered by the injunction.

The injunction has given Heathrow a very bad press, and provides Plane Stupid with very good press and an opportunity not to organise any outrageous stunts for the sake of publicity. Plane Stupid are a non-violent direct action group who in the past have managed to close down Nottingham East Midlands airport for several hours whilst they staged a memorial service for victims of climate change.

From a socialist perspective I think there is a real concern that it’s regressive simply to suggest that people should travel less by plane in order to tackle climate change. For working class people, the opportunity to travel abroad has been quite recent. Demands for longer holidays for instance, are integral to expecting people to travel to places by alternative modes of transport. Workers having direct control over their workplaces: for instance in industry and airports, is the only way to run things on the basis of need not profit. The media has posed this fight, for once, in terms of “people against profit”. And whilst Climate Camp will be suggesting the effects and causes of climate change start and end with carbon emissions, we need to highlight global warming as an effect, caused by a society propelled by profit.


Submitted by Jason on Fri, 24/08/2007 - 18:39

We should support the Climate Camp's attempt to build a mass movement against profit and capitalist plans to extend aviation without consultation with the working class or any serious attempts to curb global warming.

Of course we need to draw more working class communities into this fight, making alliances with workers striking against cuts, workig class communities affected both here and in the semi-colonies affected by global warming.

As socialists we are not against all aviation but for an emergency plan under the democratic control of the working class. Not everyone on the climate camp would agree with this- so be it.

But we should definitley and unamibugously be for creating a mass movement of defiance and protest against the capitalist exploiters and polluters.

I'm with John McDonnell on this and support his letter in The Guardian:
"As the climate change campers pack up and leave my constituency (Comment, August 21), I want to thank them, including George Monbiot, for the immense contribution they have made to our campaign against the expansion of Heathrow. More importantly, I want to thank them for raising our consciousness about how social movements can be created and mobilise effectively.
One of the key lessons of the camp is that when the political system is failing to represent us, social movements, widespread coalition-forming, creative protest and direct action are once again the effective tools for change for the committed and the disenfranchised.

As we hear of another British soldier dying in Iraq and large numbers of Iraqis being killed, surely it's time to demand withdrawal of British troops. Every rational person from senior generals to squaddies in Basra knows that the military adventure has been a bloody, disastrous mistake. Soldiers are now largely pinned down in their fortified bases, where they are sitting ducks for the insurgents. Too many lives are being lost and too much suffering is taking place to wait for a face-saving strategy to be rolled out by Gordon Brown to justify withdrawal. British forces should be withdrawn now - and if we have to take to the streets again to achieve this, let's start organising the demonstrations.
John McDonnell MP
Labour, Hayes and Harlington"

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