Monday, December 08, 2008

Plane Stupid?

I'm detecting some differences of opinion on the direct action by Plane Stupid protesters against the expansion of Stansted Airport.

Are Plane Stupid becoming the Fathers for Justice of the Green movement, as one green activist has claimed? Or shouldn't we just except that combating climate change is going to involve some inconvenience now to avoid a whole world of pain tomorrow?

Additional posts
And more updates...
  • Sunny loves it.
  • Bristling Badger wants more, more, more.
  • The Daily Mirror cites mass murder and terror in the first sentance of thier report.
  • Leo Hickman approves.
  • The Guardian reports that the protesters have been charged with aggrevated trespass.
  • The Times describes it as a "designer demo".
  • The Daily Mail...wait for it, wait for it... describes one protester as a hero. I kid you not.
  • Scenta thinks only the protesters really understand what is going on.
  • Ala thinks direct action isn't really action at all.
  • Johnny Void resorts to swearing, he seems unimpressed.
Final swathe...
  • Samizdata thinks you can't win an argument if people feel bullied by you.
  • Shuggy explores some thoughts on direct action.
  • Lily Kember says that Plane Stupid aren't all posh.
Do let me know of any *interesting* posts on this, from either side (but let's not both with climate deniers who were going to be opposed anyway), that I've missed. Thanks.


Leftwing Criminologist said...

I'm just not sure what exactly they thought they'd acheive by doing this?
"Are Plane Stupid becoming the Fathers for Justice of the Green movement" - i can certainly see the similarities.

I think more than anything they've irritated people by doing this but i'm proper busy at work (xmas and working in a shop) so i've haven't had the amount of time to reflect on it that much.

Vicky said...

I doubt think all publicity is good publicity, and pissing a lot of people off doesn't amount to getting support! "Eco-toff twats" is harsh, but I reckon a bunch of middle class kids with no sense of class struggle and no mass movement to vindicate their actions, is fairly close to the mark. A woman missed her father's funeral because of their actions- was it worth it? I doubt it. I'm unimpressed.

Natalie Bennett said...

The woman missing the funeral is sad, but one of the widely quoted complainants was going to Germany _for the day!_ for Christmas shopping.

One doubts that's a one-off - she probably does it regularly, in which case her emissions have a connection to funerals - the ones she's causing in the Third World.

Vicky said...

Couldn't resist blogging about this- sorry if that counts as stealing!

Rayyan said...

Regardless of how 'effective' their protest will or will not be, any comparisons with the Suffragettes are kind of insulting to the women who underwent true hardship and persecution for the right to vote.

Jim Jay said...

No, Vicky it isn't stealing - help yourself. Not that I'm actually against stealing mind...

Hmmm, the suffragettes thing was interesting. Partly because he's basically telling us history will vindicate him in the most pompous self important way possible, when its history that does the vindicating not him.

It doesn't actually mean it isn't true though and climate change is as important, if not more so, than the right to vote when push comes to shove (not that it's a competition).

It's the insufferable, messianic arrogance that I find, frankly, creepy. I see them as kind of reverse Geoff Hoons.

But anyway, as Scott from Coventry points out, all this stuff about the protests mainly hitting poor people is rubbish. The average wage of the users of Stansted is just less than £50K!

I bet that's a lot more than the average wage of the protesters, even when you take account of their age.

Yes, the BBC are going to choose the worst case people to interview but let's not get drawn into the idea that they've chosen a random sample. When a rail strike takes place you get exactly the same approach, so the left should be immune to this by now.

But we're not :(

Anonymous said...

Rayyan - yes the suffragettes suffered all sorts of indignities but that doesn't make the action of this group any less valid. I doubt it was pleasant chaining themselves to fences in sub-zero temperatures while security guards drove towards them in snow ploughs.

Like the suffragettes, climate activists are fighting for something they passionately believe in and are using direct action as a last resort when all legal means of achieving justice has been exhausted. I take my hemp hat off to them.

Standing by and allowing aviation to expand will be tantamount to turning a blind eye to genocide - when we go past the tipping point, large numbers of people will die, as a result of the emissions of silly Westerners who think it's ok to fly to another country to go shopping for the day. We can't just stand by and let it happen. I'm sure I won't be the only one pushed towards direct action if Geoff Hoon gives the go ahead for Heathrow Expansion.

Vicky: "a bunch of middle class kids with no sense of class struggle and no mass movement to vindicate their actions" - but a strong sense of injustice, for which I commend them. Would you have dismissed all the suffragettes bar the working class ones too? And just how often do you actually hear anyone other than a university educated middle class socialist use the phrase 'class struggle', anyway? In the queue in Lidl's? I think not.

Matt Sellwood said...

I've posted about this too. My viewpoint being that it is totally ineffective as a piece of activism, rather than offensive or immoral per se.

Raphael said...

This is really an interesting discussion, one which is likely to be ongoing for the coming years, and one which is, I think critically important for the GP.

Are we (or they) really "using direct action as a last resort when all legal means of achieving justice [etc]"?

As a political party, we believe in the possibility of achieving change through the democratic process? or, do we?

"passionately believing" in something does not make any action justified, nor legitimate.

The "genocide" analogy is really badly wrong. A genocide is the planned destruction of a group of people based on their "race". Nothing to do with traveling to Germany to bury your father. Nothing even to do with traveling for the day to do some shopping. The latter is badly irresponsible, not planning of mass murder.


ModernityBlog said...

Darren's updated:

"Update: eco toffs
Dave E adds more to the sorry tale of limp wrist toff radicalism;

... Lily Kember, one of the spokespeople for this bunch of eco-toff crap, is the product of a the Godolphin and Latymer School, the fees for which amount to some £14,000 pa - more than my total annual income. These fees were generously paid by her mummy and daddy to, ahem, give her the best start in life. So it seemed very strange when one of her climate chumps was quoted as saying:

We're here because our parents' generation has failed us

But perhaps she wasn't referring to her own privileged upbringing, but the fact that the great unwashed no longer know their place and have aspirations to take advantage of cheap modern travel.This pillock also said
We're afraid of what the police might do to us, we're afraid of going to jail Don't worry, Odious Ferry says you can share his cell.To make matters worse, Energy Secretary, and political caste member, Ed Miliband is reported to be calling for "popular mobilisation" to support politicians trying to pressure world leaders into a deal on climate change. He went on to say there needs to be "a mass movement" along the lines of Make Poverty History. Well that will be great news for the wristband producing sweatshops in Bangladesh, and the washed up rock stars with messianic delusions and a mountainous back catalogue to sell.And just to illustrate the pointlessness of this approach - there's still massive poverty all over the world, it didn't work.What a sorry bunch of fucking wankers
Posted by darren redstar at 9:15 AM "

Jim Jay said...

I think the Daily Mash is pretty funny on this (link in post update)

"Wayne Hayes, an intermediate snow-boarder from Cambridge, said: "I am deeply concerned about the sort of world we will bequeath to our children and I promise you, the minute I get back from my holiday I will write a letter to my MP demanding that they do whatever it is you want them to do.

"But please, for the time being, fuck off bastard hippies."

Emma Bradford, a hanger-on from Lincoln, said: "I'm a supporter of WWF and I have a Greenpeace Visa card. If I wasn't going on holiday I'd be down there with them, but I am, so I really think we should just crush them all with a bulldozer.""

The problem with Red Stat Commando's position is that although it has a certain charm - it's actually factually inaccurate.

Stansted is not full of working people taking cheap flights but the middle to rich to fucking rich people taking the piss.

It's the global poor who will pay the highest price for climate change - and indeed have begun to pay that price already - any argument that we can't tackle climate change on the basis of equity is essentially a narrow Britain-centric position.

It actually doesn't matter how much the necessary change inconveniences us in the short term if the long term outcome is the avoidence of global catastrophy.

Having said that I think Matt S expresses it best that this action doesn't do the job that we'd like it to - so let's learn from it and do better next time.

Anonymous said...

Raphael: We do believe in changing things through the democratic process, but we also believe in the right to peaceful protest, which is what this was. Happy to replace the word 'genocide' with 'mass murder' and to apologise for any offence caused there. It was international governments through failure to act that I was suggesting would be guilty of that, but we will all bear some responsibility if we stand idly by and let it happen.

modernity: I'd like people from all sectors of society to be protesting against airport expansion, but I'm not about to dismiss those who do on the basis that they are middle class or mega rich. The sad reality is that it is much easier to do direct action and risk arrest if you have a trust fund/ parent who can bail you out, than if you are worrying about losing your job if you get arrested and not then being able to pay your rent.

ModernityBlog said...

Jim wrote:

"Stansted is not full of working people taking cheap flights but the middle to rich to fucking rich people taking the piss."

Is it? what evidence is there for that?


I would agree with you, but gesture politics is hardly of much use, is it?

and I'd suggest that mixture of puritanism and condescension which is often the hallmark of this type of "direct action" puts off as many people as it wins over

Jim Jay said...

MB: ask and thou shalt recieve!

The following documents show that the average wage of the S. Airport user is £47,000.

Whilst there will, of course, be some on more modest incomes the idea that cheap flights has meant a *massive* expansion in poor people going abroad doesn't stack up - it has however meant richer people go more often.

ModernityBlog said...

thanks Jim, that's all I ask for, evidence and reason :)

I didn't know that, but shouldn't it be median and not average?

anyways I won't be picky

scott redding said...

Shouldn't it be Suffrajet?

Jim Jay said...

Oh Scott - that's shameful :)

Mod: well medians are averages - but not all averages are medians... does that help?

ModernityBlog said...

er Jim, well, no, they are not the same.

taking the above figures some 49.6% of passengers earn less than £35K per year, taken from the leisure international column of that report, page 85.

[the report uses Mean income]

Jim Jay said...

I didn't say they were the same :)

Mean and median (and modal) are all averages - so the term average doesn't imply any particular one, although most people assume mean...

So means are averages but averages are not necessarily means.

Like lassie is a dog but not all dogs are lassie... this may be off topic though...

ModernityBlog said...

taken from the above some 65.4% of passengers earn less £46 K

weggis said...

Way to go Scott!

Anyway can I complicate matters by pointing out that earned income [with an effing great mortgage] is not necessarily the same as disposable income.

Rayyan said...

"...using direct action as a last resort when all legal means of achieving justice has been exhausted."

So they've tried electing Green MPs up and down the country? And mass lobbying for tougher climate legislation?

Direct action, when it is obvious that there are many legal means of achieving justice left unexhausted, isn't going to achieve much. In this case it just looks self-indulgent and self-righteous. Has the government changed its mind about Stansted or Heathrow expansion? No? Ah.

This kind of action is not exactly something lots of people can throw their support behind: its very nature is exclusive, which makes it undemocratic and will inevitably fail in its ostensible purpose, i.e. to generate public support. I'm guessing that was the point of it, as I can't imagine they really believed they would permanently shut down Stansted in a day.

Green Gordon said...

I am "one green blogger"! Finally, vindicated by the blogosphere!

If I didn't say it clearly I am totally in favour of Direct Action, the nature of which depends on the stakes and what can be achieved. An attack on this ill-conceived stunt shouldn't be taken as an attack on the concept of Direct Action.

People can do better than "priveleged upbringing", though. That girl was on full scholarship, daughter of a truck driver. I've had a priveleged upbringing, but it doesn't have any descriptive power over the validity of my actions or opinions. It's just weak.

If Plane Stupid are to take Direct Action, they should be doing more embarassing ministers and business people, and less pissing off holiday makers who will be put off by them, and potentially link them to the wider Green movement.