As we have seen throughout history direct action has been central to inspiring social change – at this year’s Mass Action Camp in Didcot, from 29th May to the 2nd June, Reclaim the Power are inviting you to get involved.
by Lindsay Alderton, Reclaim The Power
With the re-election of the first fully Conservative Cabinet in Downing Street for 18 years, many have spent the last few weeks reeling in shock, fearing what lies ahead in the oncoming months and years. The implications are severe — over the last five years we’ve had a crushing run of bitter austerity measures, job losses, scapegoating attacks on migrant rights, mass sales of social housing, over a million using food banks, and suicides over benefit sanctions.
At a time when the world’s leading scientific community are imploring us to keep fossil fuels in the ground, our environmentally hostile government is pressing ahead with plans to scrap crucial subsidies for onshore wind farms, as well as championing fracking and investment in North Sea oil.
Outside the dusty halls of Westminster it is in the hands of the people where real politics is alive and kicking
We’ve witnessing chilling signs of what’s looming ahead, with the Human Rights Act scheduled for the scrap-heap, and the instigation of a disabilities minister who voted against benefits for disabled children, along with a justice secretary who isn’t averse to bringing back hanging. We know that times are bleak, and yet the spirit of resistance in the UK is raring up and fighting fierce.
Within 48 hours of the election results, thousands had taken to the streets across London and Cardiff, in protests co-ordinated by a range of grassroots groups, unifying quickly to show that they’re a force to be reckoned with. Outside the dusty halls of Westminster it is in the hands of the people where real politics is alive and kicking, and it offers a far more empowering way to shape what’s happening than merely ticking a box once every five years (or not). As we have seen throughout history direct action has been central to the success of many progressive social movements, from Chartism to the women’s vote, to the abolition of slavery and the front-line communities who’ve kept Lancashire frack-free for the last 4 years. More recently we’ve witnessed the E15 mums refusal to be evicted in the face of the political elite and their property developer pals.
throughout history direct action has been central to the success of many progressive social movements
Coming up in a couple of weeks time will be an opportunity to get more involved at this year’s Reclaim The Power Mass Action camp, close to Didcot power station. Over the space of five days hundreds will come together to get a taste of what a functioning democracy might look like, and participate in discussions and trainings which explore new ways to bring about positive social change.
In 2014, over a thousand people came to the Blackpool camp and then onwards to a day of coordinated actions targeting the fracking industry at every level. The year before the camp shut down Cuadrilla’s operations in Balcombe for a week.
So why Didcot and why now?
We know that burning fossil fuels is destroying our future and that thousands of people are already dying each year from climate change and from fuel poverty.
We are reaching a point where it’s not clear where government ends and corporations begin
According to a ‘Web of Power’ report by Global Justice Now in 2013, about a third of the UK government has links to the finance and energy companies driving climate change. More recently we’ve learned how fossil fuel companies eclipse the renewable energy sector in government, with lobbyists enjoying a scale of unprecedented access to ministers in comparison with renewable energy experts or climate scientists and campaigners. With a new Tory government in power now free to govern as they see best, these links will become even more embedded and difficult to distinguish.
We are reaching a point where it’s not clear where government ends and corporations begin. Given free reign to subsidise their friends and relations in the fracking industry and commit to another round of gas-fired power stations like Didcot, we will find ourselves locked into carbon-burning infrastructure whilst renewable technology remains largely ignored, or killed off completely. These are terrifying trajectories which threaten all forms of life, including our own.
The camp at Didcot is part of an international weekend of action against the fossil fuel industry’s stranglehold on the talks in Paris, and beyond
Didcot is owned by RWE Npower, one of the ‘Big Six’ energy companies who control the UK’s energy supply. They are one of Europe’s biggest fossil fuel polluters, own a huge open cast coal mine in Germany, and they lobby the UK Government to extend the life of dirty power stations. Yet they’ve been chosen to help represent the UK government in EU decision-making on reducing carbon emissions in Paris, in December. We know that RWE Npower will put their profits first — no matter the cost. The camp at Didcot is part of an international weekend of action against the fossil fuel industry’s stranglehold on the talks in Paris, and beyond.
People all over the world are building community-led renewable solutions to replace fossil fuels. This along with insulation and other ways of saving energy could provide good jobs, warmer homes, and lower bills. Research shows that Britain could be carbon neutral by 2030 using current technology. When a fire shut down the power station in Didcot it was wind power that kept the lights on. Community groups local to Didcot are building their own energy future through solar, wind and hydro projects that they control.
Like the communities who have held off fracking for four years, people on the ground must take action now to stop the fossil fuel industry in their tracks. Join us to make a stand with groups around the world for a weekend of direct action and reclaiming the power.
What to expect at the camp?
There’ll be something for everyone, whether you’re a hardened activist or a newcomer coming along for the first time, and it’ll be a great opportunity to get a sense of what’s going on in the UK, and learn how you can bring yours skills and voice to this bourgeoning movement. We’ll make decisions together in a decentralised and participatory way, and there’ll be opportunities to get connected with people from a wide variety of backgrounds.
This year’s agenda is packed with an array of skills and knowledge-based workshops, making connections between the UK climate movement and other movements for social justice. These include trainings by a range of organisations working on the frontline of social change, including housing, climate, anti-austerity and anti-racism, along with stories of resistance and victory, and reasons to celebrate and take inspiration. A range of hands-on training sessions, workshops and assemblies have been scheduled from Friday to Sunday, with then time dedicated to planning the mass day of action on the Monday.
We’ll make decisions together in a decentralised and participatory way
And if you’re a newcomer to direct action, and feeling a little nervous at the thought of what that might mean, then read more about our activist speed-dating approach, which matches your skills and your comfort zone with others who are on the same page.
Regardless of what you’re up for, there are options available to suit everyone, and you’ll leave with a sense of knowing you did something to make a difference, whilst reclaiming politics, and power, as your own. Who knows, you might have more fun than you could possibly imagine.
More information about the camp, the programme and travel can be found on the No Dash for Gas website.