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Embarassed but not deterred

The acquittal yesterday of the Kingsnorth 6, who climbed a 200-metre smokestack (from the inside) as part of the campaign to oppose the building of a new coal-fired station on the site in Kent, is one in the eye for the government’s refusal to tackle climate change in any serious way.

The jury evidently concluded that the damage done to the environment by a new plant burning coal — which would emit more greenhouse gases than the 30 least polluting countries in the world — was in a different league to the £30,000 cost of removing the paint daubed by intrepid Greenpeace activists. The jury found that the six had a “lawful excuse” for damaging the property because climate change was a clear and present danger.

Most observers concerned by the dismal record of this government over the last 10 years on the issues of global warming and climate change, not to mention those of civil liberties, will be delighted to raise a glass to the Kingsnorth 6. But the question is, will the jury’s decision change anything? When Greenpeace claim that the result of the court case could be the “tipping point for the climate change campaign”, and then (once again) call on Gordon Brown to step in and embrace a clean energy policy for Britain, they are (again) giving credence to something that is not possible.

The New Labour government will not turn about. Their direction is clear and it is not towards any action that might further de-stabilise the economy, endanger the status quo, or blow a raspberry at the global corporations. The simple fact that greenhouse gas emissions in Britain have actually increased over the last years, says it all.

The recent climate change camp, which took place at Kingsnorth, gave a more accurate picture of just what the state is preparing under this government. Around 1,400 police with batons from 26 forces were in attendance, as well as specialist units with dogs and horses. Kevin Smith, for the Climate Camp, said at the time: "Our legal team are going to be exhausting every possible channel for holding the police accountable for the draconian use of stop and search measures, for the things they confiscated, and for their violent incursions on to the camp. Every year police use the supposed existence of a hardcore minority as justification for their heavy-handedness and every year this hardcore minority fails to materialise."

In a recent article for the New Statesman, Stephen Armstrong, revealed the startling and sinister statistic that roughly 25% of all those attending these activist camps and protests, particularly those concerned with the environment, are corporate spooks. This estimate comes from the so-called “private espionage industry” itself. “From New York and London to Moscow and Beijing, any decent-sized corporation can now hire former agents from the CIA, FBI, MI5, MI6, and the KGB. The ex-spooks are selling their old skills and contacts to multinationals, hedge funds and oligarchs, digging up dirt on competitors, uncovering the secrets of boardroom rivals and exposing investment targets. They are also keeping tabs on journalists, protestors and even potential employees”, says Armstrong.

Embarrassed the government may be by the Kingsnorth 6, but not deterred, and certainly not contemplating any changes.

Peter Arkell
11 September 2008

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