Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Targeting the climate camp

The lurid media headlines aimed at the climate action camp, combined with systematic police harassment, just about sum up the state of Britain today. Anything that disturbs the status quo and challenges corporate assumptions about the environment or anything else is regarded as intolerable and dangerous. The state will crackdown to block any serious protest action if necessary, and you wouldn’t put it past the police to concoct an excuse to shut the camp down. For example, the Daily Telegraph today declares that “Heathrow protesters 'may stage bomb hoax'”. The source of their story? Why, none other than a spokesperson for the British Airports Authority, which has already tried to ban people from attending the camp. "We are particularly concerned they [anarchists] will try to disguise themselves as passengers or members of our staff, because the protesters have already evaded our officers on two previous occasions," a spokespeson said.

No doubt police will now stop and search people entering the camp site to make sure they are not hiding “smart clothes” which could then be used to disguise themselves as “ordinary people”! The same BAA, which is owned by the global construction firm Ferrovial, has already suggested that the camp could be a perfect cover for terrorists to mount an attack. On that logic, any gathering of more than three people could be considered dangerous, anywhere in Britain. What about football crowds, or people going to a cricket match, or to a race meeting? Surely terrorists could buy themselves a club shirt, carry a picnic hamper for Lord’s or buy a morning suit to attend Ascot and then blow themselves up. The only answer is for people to attend sporting and other events in their underwear – or to be banned from assembling in large numbers either to enjoy themselves or take part in a protest.

While the police state is being put together under the sponsorship of the New Labour government, the show must go on. Downing Street has warned that "action that would disrupt the running of Heathrow would be unacceptable”. So what is actually acceptable? The enforced expansion of Heathrow, which will destroy communities living under the flight path of a new runway, and add to climate change is fine. So too is covering up the government’s inability to meet European Union targets on renewable energy. According to reports, government officials have secretly briefed ministers that Britain has no hope of getting remotely near the new renewable energy target that Tony Blair signed up to in the spring - and have suggested that they find ways of getting out of it. Officials within the former Department of Trade and Industry have admitted that under current policies, Britain would miss the EU's 2020 target of 20% energy from renewables by a long way. And they suggest that "statistical interpretations of the target" be used rather than new ways to reach it. At least the government is consistent. There was a target for cutting carbon dioxide by 20% by 2010 in the 1997 manifesto. This was later referred to not as a “target” but as “domestic goal we will move towards”. The mounting media and state attacks on the climate camp are aimed at silencing those who want the truth to come out – and who, more importantly, want to do something about it.

Paul Feldman, AWTW communications editor

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