Democracy in Direct Action


Caroline Lucas winning her seat in Parliament
All rights reserved. Credit: Green Party
Winning in Brighton & Hove
Image caption: 
Winning in Brighton & Hove

Here is the news. Caroline Lucas has been
acquitted of all charges relating to participating in a peaceful protest
against fracking in Balcombe. I am happy.

I’m particularly happy, because there’s
something of an uneven fight going on in Westminster over fracking. The main political
parties seem generally pro-fracking, whilst being anti-wind. The British public seem
fairly anti-fracking, whilst being pro-wind. And because we live in a representative
democracy, the public aren’t being listened to.

Of course, being Greenpeace, we would say
that, wouldn’t we?

But then, being Greenpeace, we can back it up.

For example, the Department of Energy do a
tracking poll on these (and other) issues. Their latest results are that 64% of
people support on-shore wind, with 27% supporting fracking.

But a recent yougov poll delves a little
deeper, and divides the results by party affiliation. In response to the
question-

"Which one
of the following energy projects or plants would you most prefer to have
operating in your local council area?
"

They received the following results

Voting intention  A wind farm (for onshore wind energy)  A fracking site (for shale gas)  D/K

Labour                 76%                                                     9%                                          14% LibDem                78%                                                     14%                                         8% Conservative       50%                                                     33%                                        17% UKIP                    41%                                                     36%                     
                  24%   

On fracking, Labour are currently fudging the issue, and the coalition government is busy making
things easier for frackers and harder for the wind industry, even threatening
to dismantle existing wind turbines, allegedly on the grounds of on-shore wind
being unpopular. UKIP are the only party officially denying climate change, and
even their voters prefer wind to shale. So, unless Brighton's Green Party voters are all wildly
enthusiastic about fracking, it would seem that there is only one MP in Parliament accurately representing their voters, or anyone’s voters, on this
issue.

This is where protest comes in. Without members of the public, or in this case, Parliament, willing to make a public fuss about our government going against our interests, there is a huge range of issues where the corporate hospitality of industry lobbyists will win the day. That one MP
had the strength of character not only to support the public interest instead
of the fossil fuel industry, but to put herself in harm’s way to do so, is the best news to come out of Parliament for years. As
someone who was at the Balcombe protests, I can assure you that everyone taking
part in Caroline’s action knew that they were very likely to be on the receiving
end of some very heavy-handed policing, to say the least.

Not that the police take the side of the
fossil fuel industry against the public, of course. Not unless they’re ordered
to, I should imagine.

Anyway, Caroline, in a completely party-politically non-partisan manner, we love you.


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