Friday, 21 April 2017

Day 75 in the Cuadrilla House...

Day 75 in the Cuadrilla House… and the good people were in short supply, unlike (as we’ve come to expect) the policing which comes packaged tightly in multiple dark vehicles that litter Preston New Road – fly-tipped from the over-reactive mind of someone, somewhere ‘higher up’ who has fears beyond the reality. One of the dark vehicles hurtled at speed under blue lights today, making a fuss… for all of a few yards; seems drama is a key ingredient to policing this road. Certainly there was no cause as a single lane was (yet again) closed in order to enable a convoy of seemingly precious trucks to thunder into the frack site; ample dozens of glowing police had already herded the pensioners, disabled, peaceful few Protectors into a cosy huddle and NOTHING looked remotely threatening. Today was different as all days are different but the one thing that is currently to be relied on for predictability – is that the policing is massive, over-reactive and ill-informed about what’s really going on. Lots of trucks in on this day where we were light on Protectors but impossible now to keep tallies as the pattern of days has changed.

So when my sister and I left to get back to grandma duties this afternoon, it happened to be at the time of another truck arrival – causing more wild panic on the road with the on-edge policing. Another dark carrier raced to catch us up (we were pretty slow as pulling a PA system and carrying signs and other paraphernalia) …as the door of the vehicle opened, out poured a good 9+ officers – sort of laughably for a minute looking like parachuters do before they jump. They dramatically forced a line between us two grandmas who were walking away quietly – and an oncoming truck on the other side of the road. Well, words fail me (which is pretty rare). I said we were clearly headed home and asked what on earth they thought we were going to do. An officer said “well you never know do you, people lie” – this is apparently one of my tender points as it set off a roar in me. We’re treated every day as if we’re vicious criminals (NO violence EVER comes from Protectors – only police) and now he judges me as a potential liar too. I raged and it was pointless of course, but it cleared my anger at least for a moment.

What ARE they briefed before they come on duty? To expect what? Rabid, raging animals ffs?! We are deeply concerned UK residents seeking to protect ourselves, families, communities from a real and provable threat to our health along with the quality of the essentials to ALL life – air and water. Yet we find ourselves here on the seemingly ‘wrong side of the law’ each day.

I did this word-cloud (my first) from my ongoing (though terribly unreliable now) blog about PNR… the image doesn’t surprise me – all those words and thoughts that rush around as in this height of dilemma – answers are sought. It’s so sad though isn’t it? I know I’m not the only one stuck in a reel of thoughts and constant seeking that has evicted all the former thoughts… hard to recall what I filled my head with before this but I bet it would have been a prettier word cloud with more frivolity, joy and hope. Such a ridiculous way for humans to spend our days. That we have to do this in the absence of a responsible government, speaks volumes about what our ‘democracy’ and systems of checks and balances has come to.

I wonder what the police think is going to happen? They keep claiming to seek only the safety of all and yet despite the complete non-violence of all Protectors – each day violence is applied to us; they man-handle us far more brutally than this situation could possibly warrant. We are in the way, we are trying to be disruptive and we are angered… the police want us to peacefully co-operate and we want to have an impact and there lies the crux of the problem.

We claim articles 10 & 11 of the Human Rights Act is what empowers our actions to protest this industry. Slow walking has been recognised as acceptable use of right to protest – yet the police tell us it just can’t be done on this road as it’s too fast. Advisory notices to reduce speed are in place and should soon become compulsory – so surely then we ask, it would be our right to slow-walk. They are evasive on this. They can’t imagine surely that waving banners and getting road user support – is what protest looks like? We KNOW this industry brings harm to our children and will work to stall, delay, stop this site being allowed to develop to production. Pretty soon we’re all going to have to work out what this is heading to and what we can do for or about the various potential outcomes. Thankfully PNR isn’t the only arena where fracking is being challenges… Pop up Protests at suppliers, work in political circles, Councillors, NGOs, environmental groups and more are all part of the mix too and although the roadside can be upsetting, the supplier pull outs have been uplifting – it’s swings and roundabouts.

In the end, this will not be stopped by direct action at the roadside alone – and there are many working in all sorts of places to help. Numbers though make a difference and your presence is always very much valued if you can make it. Despite the policing, it is safe enough (what a crazy sentence to type) and there is always the best of company to get you through. See you at the roadside?♥

Sunday, 16 April 2017

A New Occupation...

At Preston New Road Rolling Roadside Protest, like so many other protest sites in the past 6 years... people come fresh to activism each day and it's bittersweet to be part of. Each time we are forced to act 'against' the state/industry, we're slow-walking away from the life that each once had. Becoming an 'Activist' may turn out to be an essential decision in the long run - but in the immediate aftermath, it's about pain and loss.

The pain of seeing stark truths that show the lies of this 'system of democracy', the 'integrity of academia', the 'impartiality of media', the confusing purpose of things.,, and pain at the realisation that you can't let yourself be soothed by imagining things will be OK anymore; in opening your eyes to one wrong - so many more wrongs become apparent by clear association and collusion.

And the loss... of normality, familiarity, comfort once derived from lies of state/industry... loss of former hopes and dreams, loss of friends who don't yet 'get it' (no fault of theirs - we are so misled and it takes a bit to get to truth and the day before any of us was an activist... we weren't too) and loss of faith in solutions by any formally trusted bodies.

I feel overjoyed that we grow but so sad that we have to - especially when I see the stress, sadness, pain and loss in the faces of more recent Activists. It doesn't get easier but it does get more familiar and the company for the most part... is inspiring. Other humans who found their inner-Activist too and can't go home anymore to the same type of life. We sometimes have what feels like huge ups and downs in this intensely diverse tribe of Activists... but these are nothing in the face of what comes if industry/state go unopposed and unchallenged. So we plough through the bad bits, knowing there's no way out anyway.

Normality for me ceased the day I literally got an Occupation; 15 Oct 2011 outside the London Stock Exchange. Was just reading back over the testimonies of those who were part of Occupy London and realising how many I still encounter - because they're still here too. The link below goes to a site where the reasons and impacts of our Occupation are explored:
[I recognised the struggle within my own interpretation of the world I was living in; the one where education and health were seen to be market commodities rather that logically beneficial and essential; the one where too many in government, entertained lobbyists from industry and later ended up on their boards of directors and we were supposed to pretend that no favours were done; the one where bailing out bankers went hand in hand with cutting disability benefits; the one where the arms trade emanating out of my own country, meant that from my taxes, I paid to kill people and in none of the wars we started or armed, was there an ounce of honourable purpose… and then there was the deadly foolishness of keeping alive industries that should long ago have died but were clinging to us in a death spiral of fossilised pollution and waste that was overflowing into the bodies of our young,

Those tools Occupy gave me meant that rather than tell anyone how to do their activism, we delivered what I call ‘The Unwelcome Gift of Truth’ to communities and then asked only that they please act individually and together to find out more and respond. I didn’t want to say ‘save the planet’, that was too big an ask, nor did I want to tell them that along the way, all their original beliefs would come crashing down and that before it got clear and the self-empowerment kicked in – it would be a bit awful, isolating and crushingly real. There was no need to say though because I knew that once they started tackling this ONE issue, they would discover that the media lies (and come to ask themselves, what was ever true?), their MPs serve their party not the people, their Councillors are ill-informed and mostly powerless, lobbyists from industries as big as the energy sector, have the power to change our politics and laws and that THIS is NOT what democracy looks like.]

Thursday, 13 April 2017

Day 71 in the Cuadrilla House...

About yesterday... a little late but hey ho. Headed up to Preston New Road Rolling Roadside Protest shortly <3 span="">

Day 71 in the Cuadrilla House… and the good people got the worst news, that the judicial reviews had failed to get this site development stopped. One honourable Protector had been atop a delivery truck for 18 hours when the news came – he’d said he wasn’t releasing the vehicle until the ruling came. As the ruling was clearly wrong (really, do read the piece on Drill Or Drop? to see the strength of our points of law – and Judge Dove’s absurd excuses for refusing to accept their validity) … he did not come down. Later at the 24 hour mark, he would be delivered by police, along with the truck right into the Cuadrilla site (more on that later). The mood of us all was impossible to define as it went from rage, upset and jaded... to defiant, determined and resolute. What NO-ONE thought was “Oh well that’s it then”.
So it’s been a rollercoaster of a ride at the roadside these too many days, with deep lows and massive highs depending on the moments… I remember reading somewhere once that because usual everyday life is usually full of common sights and routines… that much of what we think we are seeing, is actually just like the ‘cache’ on a computer – where the ‘usual’ things are sort-of assumed by our minds to save re-looking too much at the stuff that’s always there; like the pattern on wall-paper or words on office doors etc. (maybe why we notice the slightest slight fringe trim on a familiar face sort of thing?) Every day of activism defies this fact… every moment of every day we are experiencing a new thing that can’t be predicted or presumed… or really steered either. We are a tribe by virtue of our shared locations and aim (stop fracking) – but without deep knowledge of each other – so everything including ourselves is impossible to predict. We’re a movement that looks a lot like a murmuration of birds – we surge, cluster, separate and act independently… together. My head hurts trying to figure how we take the mass of us and apply it to the truth of the problem… the system of government that yesterday forced the risks of fracking, onto the children of Lancashire.

These blogs I try to maintain when time, mind and clarity permit… started out as a way of noting number of deliveries, mood of Protectors, breeches of planning etc. but this became impossible as the wonderful PuPs (Pop up Protests) meant there were more fronts to report on and the actions at the roadside itself, spread to different parts of Preston New Road. My view will only ever be a fragment seen from one spot; there are so many other places to stand and things to see. Livestreams from a variety of Protectors are coming into their own for fuller views but mostly only on Facebook Live which can limit our reach to those not using the platform… and considering the nature and rapidity of change that can happen one moment to the next – a full clear view is not likely! Which makes me ponder longer at the way any news story is covered and which aspects of a ‘story’ old media chooses to shine a light on and how they choose what to exclude… but that’s for another blog.

Thankfully Miranda Cox has added her perspective on the day to follow my bit – so for now I’ll update on what happened that I was witness to that appalled me… the delivery of a Protector, to the very place he is working against and where the people we oppose, are gathered in number. My sister and I arrived at PNR around 10am just after hearing the outcome of the judicial reviews and at this point the Protector was atop the truck outside Maple Farm (just down from the site on PNR) and had been there 18 hours. Some local media was milling about at this point. Later in the day when time atop truck reached 24 hours … I was nearby when I heard screams. We’d previously been spending time with others up at the land owner’s area, site and various points along the road – when we got to where the truck had been, it was just moving off with three helmeted police on the back and on top of the Protector (this was a gravel truck full of sharp stone). A police officer was driving.

The truck went at quite a pace and we got the car to head up and see where they were taking him. We reached the fracking site entrance and saw that the truck, the helmeted police and the Protector had been delivered right INTO the site and the gates closed behind. Quite simply WTF?! I asked police what on earth was happening, why the Protector had not been taken to a police station and what they thought he would be going through being delivered into the place we’ve stood and opposed for 70 days. He went off to find an excuse that would do and was told to say:
There was nowhere the truck could go that was suitable and the police station in Kirkham could not accommodate an HGV… the site was the ‘safe’ alternative. (*safe for who??)

I challenged that it was the least safe for the Protector and that there were huge carparks nearby that would easily have sufficed. I should have recalled the HGV testing station but didn’t – surprised the police didn’t think of it either as it is just down the road from their station in Kirkham! My Facebook Livestreams are public and the exchange is here:

Lots else happened… but it always does. You really need to be here :)Much planning is happening but early stages as we’d tried to hold out hope that further actions might not be needed if justice had its way … sadly justice too has been ignored by government and now just lives in our hearts as a forlorn hope rather than in the law books. o back to the roadside but everything is different again and moreso – now we KNOW there is nothing for us to call on from this ‘democracy’ or the legal system. We KNOW we the people are working separate and in opposition from the government and that changes our mindset… but we’re not going home. We can’t. See you at the roadside?

View from Miranda:
[Bloody angry about today...I'm actually fizzing. We have one planet. This has been my main thought all day. We have no back up plan. We have our land, we have each other, we have our air and our water. We can look after our planet or we can destroy it. It's that simple. While world Governments pursue wealth for the few over quality of life for all, while they continue to push economy over the environment, they are not protecting humanity. We are reaching a tipping point, socially and environmentally. Its now time for us to push for change, to demand environmental agendas instead, to protect the planet rather than business.

The news that the two separate appeals had failed did not come as a huge surprise, but it did feel like the knock out blow at the end of a huge fight. There's that feeling of disempowerment, and abandonment which takes the air from your lungs and leaves you clenching and unclenching jaw muscles. Then there's the rise of anger, that feeling if you shout loudly things will be different. This was then followed by a desperate need to reach out to fellow protectors. Arriving on PNR I was struck by the calmness, the sense of resilience from everyone. The solidarity in knowledge that yes we had received a blow, but nothing had changed. We will not go away or be silent. Our obligation is too great.

We were appalled to witness removal of a protector in a way that was unsafe and intimidatory. We are getting used to this, but it doesn't mean we accept it or deserve it. Years of government peddling the idea that protest is illegitimate, that those who stand up are outsiders has rendered many people fearful of taking a stand. While populations are neutered big business will take advantage. All I could think about today was if our lawmakers, law enforcers and regulatory authorities cannot or will not protect us, the only choice is we do it.
They may try and alienate us, divide us and hurt us, but if anyone, including those perpetrating environmental destruction have any future we have to stand up.]

Tuesday, 11 April 2017

Day 70 & we're not OK...

So today is Day 70 and I will try to update in words this evening (I'll get to roadside this afternoon) - my daily blog has been hindered by too much demand on time and energy to always get round to it... I had thought that with so many livestreaming and image gathering that it was pretty well covered now anyway (in the early days of Jan/Feb... we were still finding our ways to get our story out and gather others to help us and I blogged more then)... but others on Twitter and elsewhere who do not keep up with Facebook have messaged to say that if they're not on Facebook, they aren't uninformed so I'll try to resume & put on the blog and Twitter too :)

It's hard to face any of this some days but impossible to walk away - those who have hit low points or encountered difficulties with the harsher sides of being an activist, have had to drag ourselves to be at roadside or sometimes even just opted out when it got too much. Now though we can't... no-one can - if we're to stand any chance of stopping this.

Nothing is normal about anything at Preston New Road Rolling Roadside Protest - nothing. To get up and KNOW that your day will involve conflict is horrid and to then go anyway.. feels absurd. But... to get up and KNOW that if you and a whole lot more other people DON'T face it... then we damn our children to ill-health and worse. Whatever we feel about facing the conflict - we are needed.

In the early days when the road traffic management was in place and just a single-lane operated... it was possible to find our sense of community and each other's warmth as we grew our numbers - now though as the very busy road has opened back up and the site is progressing (3 months behind schedule though - drilling originally in planning for March - now not till June)... and worst of all, the policing has become over-reactive and hugely intense and intimidating, the mood and tone is indeed much darker. But the odds were I suppose that it was always going to be this way.... sadly the tragic, emotional witnessing of it all - leads some to turn to each other and lay blame.

Fellow Protectors look at each other for better answers, more hours, better tactics, more effective actions, the way to stop what's happening ... we question ourselves (and some accuse others) about if what we've done was good enough, would others have done it better, was the task of stopping this site helped or hindered as a result of actions and so on. We need to stop this, we're only bloody human and the FACT of us being there and doing the best we can, should be enough to earn us reprieve from accusation... plus it serves only to divide and weaken us; which is of course what is desired by any industry manipulators.

I posted an article earlier about a PR company and the dirty deeds it does for clients and if you want to research along these lines - you'll find exposes on how protesters are disrupted, infiltrated and movements squashed by what they refer to as 'the dark arts'. Not a conspiracy, just a fact of what big business does to protect itself from loss of profit. When we first met the frackers here in Lancashire in 2011... a firm called PPS was the PR Agency fronting the story for Cuadrilla - a Channel 4 Dispatches programme from a few years before shows the levels they stoop to including infiltration, listening-in and disruption with activist groups. We are challenging the energy sector - the biggest industry there is (is the arms trade bigger? I'm not sure) - and when you consider that it is just you and me opposing them and we've done well for 6 years of stopping them... they are going to respond with all they can.

Lovely others have asked if we're doing ok... we're not. We're watching the build happening and every day this causes pain and fear. Of course we're not ok. Taking a break though is NOT an option right now and we need to be at the roadside, in our Councillor's and MP's offices, at planning meetings, with our groups,on the phones, sharing online and reaching out to suppliers or protesting them if they fail to understand... what we can't do it stop.

Please don't sit this one out - even if it pains you to get involved... what we leave behind if we fail, is far worse than any harms to us as individuals now.

On the plus side... the best part of ourselves as part of humanity is what is working when we are Protectors... there is no greater beauty in any of us than this bit <3 span="">

ps... best action you can take at any time is to simply turn up - it is our numbers that makes all the difference to our impact and each other x

Sunday, 9 April 2017

The State of Divide...

The State of Divide…
There’s a state emerging,
New destination slow-birthing,
So big it is named
‘The Divide’

It existed first only in waves of intent;
When unable to make a home in the hearts of others,
Those who would come to claim ‘The Divide’
Broke away from the states of Humanity
To seize the spaces between.

Like dark matter permeating,
Or diseases replicating
They found the cracks and weak points
Entered through the pain
Journeyed on the tears
Made glorious the anguish
And took hostage the vulnerable

Traps were laid at the doors of Divide
So passers-by could be caught,
Brought away from the State of Humanity
And into this world of confusions, mistrust and anxiety.

The sameness that united Humanity was crushed,
When entering the dark confusion of Divide.
Hopes, dreams, wisdom, kindness and love
Slashed by brutes with sharpened tongues.
Harm comes this way, it feels at home here
Breeds and festers in its work.

Bruised and battered by words, thoughts and deeds
Divide had no need to lay a hand
The damning alone, did the work of forty fists

This conflict in our heads...
Needs no body blows

The State of Humanity splintered
Fractured pockets of life clinging on
In a world where Divide’s borders grew
So damned wide
We struggled to see across the distant we’d become
...Even when looking in each other’s eyes.
If Humanity hopes to survive...
Humanity needs to Unite <3 span="">

Friday, 31 March 2017

#OsborneMustGo... I'll get your coat George

Brick walls at the end of every street that’s supposed to lead to ‘democracy’ …That’s what brings people to activism; the lack of other ways to be heard and to have our say.

I reached my own personal enough-is-enough moment in 2011 and took a tent to St Pauls for Occupy London. I didn’t want to engage with the system – I wanted to make it stop. Years of aggressive wars, the bank bailout that coincided  with cuts to disability allowances, the state of our healthcare and sneaky attempts to privatise it bit by precious bit – all this and so much more had finally brought me to a halt. The system had to change, even if I had no idea or plan for what next.

After Occupy London I returned North to find the urgency of the fight to keep our country frack-free; an immediate danger that could not be ignored and represented the recklessness of the government’s pursuit of industry without adequate concern for the people and our wellbeing. Over the years in that movement with the Lancashire Nanas and our many allies, I have witnessed the immense power, honour, passion and determination of the most diverse range of people I could ever have hoped to meet. We don’t all see eye-to-eye, but we stand shoulder-to-shoulder facing the same target. For six years, the frackers have done everything to get a production site going and failed… there is no shale gas production in the UK and fracking has only taken place in April 2011 in Lancashire. Test sites are as far as they’ve got but things are changing rapidly 

In 2015 I dipped into the world of politics, running for the Green Party against George Osborne in Tatton. It was a safe Conservative seat and the independent Martin Bell was the only non-Tory who had ever won there - but running was a chance to challenge and learn.  I wanted to understand the process and to challenge George. Much was eye-opening and much pretty soul-destroying (I blogged about it at the time).

Mostly I realised just how rigged the system is, keeping certain types of politicians and ways of business safe and excluding much that seeks to question it. Our votes are not equal, our voting system is illogical and the outcomes unsatisfactory for the majority. Even if you get the Party you chose, they cand and do renege on their promises and get away with it. We try to remember what they did next time the little box waits for our mark – but we get overwhelmed, distracted, fatalistic, dismayed by the options… and the cycle repeats. 

I was reminded of that run against George when he took his fourth job as Editor of the London Evening Standard a couple of weeks ago. He was barely able to make the public meetings for the election due to his hectic schedule, he rarely sets foot in the Tatton area as it is… and now all the lovely Tatton voters I got to meet are getting their MP on an extreme part-time basis.

He made promises to them and I heard him. I watched him act the part, and I watched the audiences hope he just might deliver on this phony sincerity. He hasn’t and it’s clear, he won’t. It’s such a blatant thing too isn’t it? Right out in the open and declaring he can be all things to all people in all places… a Northern Powerhouse master, Champion of the people of Tatton, London Editorial Guru and debonaire after-dinner speaker on the world circuit – “What a man!” –but he’s not. He’s really not.

Since the news of his new job, I have been talking with others who feel the same rage at this clearly wrong situation and the way the people of his constituency are disregarded in all this. Over 190,000 people signed a petition in no time, calling for George to ‘Pick a Job’ and a poll in Tatton showed 57% of his constituents felt the same way. 

I think the people I met deserve better - so I am working with others to challenge George to step down as an MP. We’ve started a campaign to get information to Tatton voters as well as events and media, to make sure that even if he does only pop by for a moment – that George knows that he can’t pretend it’s all ok in Tatton. It’s not. He needs to step aside and let the voters of Tatton have an MP that will serve them with honour and dedication.

There is a bigger picture here. Our system of government does not resemble any definition of democracy I know – it’s as if ‘government’ is a fa├žade painted to look like something for the people but in reality, step inside, look at the lobbyists and the revolving door between industry roles and ministerial positions. Logic says that the vast majority of people would aim for a system that strives toward enabling us to lead happy, healthy lives and not do harm to others… ours appears to aim for the opposites.  The system is good at serving industry – easing the burden of regulations, manipulating laws, bargaining trade deals and showing favour to big money – whilst tightening the belts around ordinary people and cutting services we depend on.

This is too obvious, too intrusive and too unfair to continue. We were forced to bail out banks yet what we need is an energy bailout, a people bailout, a healthcare bailout, an education bailout… The system severely cuts funding and causes the good stuff to break – then along comes some commercial enterprise to pick it up at a rock-bottom price. 

Today in Lancashire, a vast fracking site is under construction despite the local Council saying NO to planning and huge, vocal public opposition. Westminster saw fit to take the decision away from our county and over-ruled us. Every day since 4th January 2017, the people have stalled work, slowed deliveries and stood in defiant protest to stop this… and they will not go home. Across the country, communities feel the same and yet our government chooses to ignore us, ignore peer-reviewed warnings from reputable scientists and ignore the growing wave of bans in France, New York, Victoria and countless other places.

The fight to stop shale gas production is urgent; our health and that of our children is at stake, along with the safety of our water and air. I wish this wasn’t the way I spend my life. But there is no exit door from protecting our children, and so we go on. The fight doesn’t end till it stops. The lessons and gifts of this are that you realise how many feel the same and how much they are willing to put into standing their ground. Activists have endured so much and put ourselves through hugely demanding situations and endured unfair hardship as a result of having to do this… because our government doesn’t value our community’s health or our children’s futures as we do. There is no agency helping us, it is ONLY the power of us. People power actually exists and that’s a reason to hope.