Friday, 7 October 2016

Beyond Reasonable...


We find ourselves on the closing page of the chapter – the one where ‘reasonable’ was the key theme.

The government & industry had the chance to deal with reasonable people, engage in reasonable debate, discussion and knowledge sharing; without agenda or bias. Instead they chose propaganda, spin, PR, marketing, bribes (they call it sponsorship), sharply tailored reports paid for with industry money and slander and attack on those who questioned their story.

The government & industry had the chance to accept the reasoned findings of a local parish, borough and county council, that along with many in the community, said no to fracking. Instead they chose to make those council officers impotent – to deny them a voice as they deny the community ours. They told us this decision was too big for us and that only Westminster could decide what risks would be taken with the health of the children of Lancashire.

The government & industry has gambled it all and decided they’re willing to put our children as chips on the table. They are drilling the democracy right out of Lancashire in order to clear the way for this risky business. For those responsible for young ones (I thinks that’s about all of us)… we stand between the frackers and our children and nothing will make us step aside and take this gamble with them. Nothing.

So ‘reasonable’ has been exhausted, drained and laid to rest as before us lies a great unknown – the place where the rules of engagement afforded by democracy, are now done with. I can’t find a chapter-guide for this bit. 

I read a line yesterday that said:
Riot is the language of the unheard.

I wouldn’t have even understood what that could mean just a few years ago. I didn’t know this rage, this obligation, this way. It’s a loose and wild guess but I figure from visiting frack-free groups throughout the UK, that our movement is roughly 80% brand-new to campaigning, activists. People who had not had cause or occasion to object before. People who are all asking themselves, what comes next? What am I able to do? How much can I take? What choices are there? What the hell am I doing….

I had only a modicum of a head start on activism; having gone down to Occupy and learned more over three months than I had my entire life… around the time that fracking was coming very slowly into view in 2011.  But what I learned in Tent City University was not about this, about what we currently face – I didn’t find out about fracking till I came home to Blackpool. I learned amazing things about people who became active… and about my self; how wrong I’d been in my assumptions and judgements, how much my fellow humans could inspire me and that there was often more to be heard in a whisper, than a shout. There was realisation too… that there was a door marked activism and once you walked through it… you realised firstly that you’d been in the wrong room all this time and secondly… that there are a lot more doors.

So here we all find ourselves on the eve of the next chapter and at the tail end of days of media frenzy. The old traditional media hounded us for opportunities to film and document the ‘moment you find out if they’re going to frack’ – a perverse desire to stare into the eyes of the grieving, the broken, the exhausted – like some side-show. I’ve seen press over the years that allowed itself to frame us as ‘emotional’ ‘scaremongers’ ‘nervous nellies’ ‘luddites’ ‘eco terrorist’ …and now they want to stare into our souls. We’d all have preferred they used the air time to highlight some of the truly key points in the nearly 900 peer-reviewed studies into the risks of shale but that’s not their gig. And while we’re on it, there’s nothing wrong with having emotion – it’s honest.

So who are we then… the campaigners? Here in Lancashire I’m with those who struggle to find time but still do even as they dash off to collect children from school, to care for elderly relatives, to manage businesses and families… the campaigners who send apologies to a meeting because they had to give a kidney to a sibling but would be back as quick as possible and another who asked if the next meeting could be held in the Chemo Suite at the hospital as she was key to the plans but booked for cancer treatment… the campaigners who grieved while we marched and campaigned because the one we lost would have been so angry if we hadn’t carried on in her name, the campaigners who like all who do this stuff… are acting from the best of themselves, their obligations.

The media this week always asked:
What will you do now and will you break the law?

For me, I feel I’d need a really lengthy chat about Law before being able to honestly answer. Right now for instance, the Law tells us that challenging this decision can only be limited to a point of law or procedural error – what about outright dishonesty, corruption and bias? Is that not covered by our laws? I’m in court on 19 Oct to face a charge of contempt of court, that for me is actually reflective of my contempt of abuse of justice system by Cuadrilla… there are no laws to help me with moral conviction, there is no box that can be ticked in law and so therefore I am apparently un-lawful. So Law… who the hell does it work for? Those with money are using it as a tool to deter activism in my case and to bypass democracy in our county case. So would I break the law? I want to say that maybe the law deserves a good breaking – but I’m in enough trouble with it.

Easier perhaps to say that none wish to be made criminal by this situation or  to see it escalate… but we WILL stand in self-defence for our families and communities against what we know to be certain harm.

Tomorrow we gather to have a huge discussion about what next. We have had a genuinely reasonable and fair relationship with the local Lancashire police – unique for those of us who experienced Balcombe and Barton Moss as well as London actions. Our local force has been mainly the same faces for 5 years now and they are very aware of our reasonable behaviour as well as our exhaustive lawful attempts to be heard. They know us to be parents, employers, residents… as well as activists and… like our local media, who too have journeyed with us on this heck of a ride, we are all reaching the same milestones. I don’t want any of this to change… but everything WILL change because the government just silenced us and is telling us to act negligently in our responsibilities as parents.

 I think this next chapter’s key themes may just be Empowerment & Rearranging Hierarchies


…whatever happens next will come from the best of people so I have complete faith that we will find our way to defeat what is clearly acting from the worst of itself -  government & industry.
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