Archives for posts with tag: UK

68 kingsnorth climber

Editorial – The Observer, Sunday 31 May 2009

Sometimes, the most effective protest crosses the boundaries of law. That does not mean activists should be free to commit crimes just to draw attention to good causes. Rather, there are times when direct action can actually change the law, nudging it into closer alignment with what the protester sees as natural justice.

One such case is that of the Kingsnorth Six, who in 2007 broke into a coal-fired power station, shut it down and defaced it. They argued in court that the damage they caused prevented a worse harm: destruction of the climate.

The story is told in our Review section today and in a film collaboration between documentary-maker Nick Broomfield and Greenpeace, hosted by the Observer online. It shows the potential for extraordinary courage shown by ordinary people when motivated by ideals.

It so happens that the ideal of saving the world from climate change is a noble one. But the theoretical argument that direct action is justified in the name of a greater good leads on to morally complex terrain. It can be deployed by all sorts of zealots who think their cause trumps the law.

That is why the key to the Kingsnorth Six story is their trial by jury. Expert testimony and scientific evidence were presented to support the claim that closure of the power station, even for the few hours that the protest lasted, averted terrible harm to the climate. Such is the toxicity of coal smoke. The court concurred; the activists were acquitted.

That outcome would under any circumstances have made it a landmark case. But given the profound moral implications of the Kingsnorth Six defence – that burning filthy fossil fuels amounts to a crime against the planet – it is especially significant, and gratifying, that a jury of their peers agreed.

Great Gas Gala

Since 7am on Thursday (25th) the community in Balcombe, Sussex has been resisting attempts by fracking company Cuadrilla Resources to start drilling in their village. They need your help!

As the Great Gas Gala continues it’s looking like Balcombe 1 – Cuadrilla 1 with all to play for. The main difference between the opponents being that the people of Balcombe are fighting for their health and environment while Cuadrilla is trying to make a quick buck out of destroying other people’s communities. On Day 1 more than 250 people stopped Cuadrilla bringing any equipment onto the site. During Day 2 more than 90 police waded in to break up the blockade by force and escort trucks onto the site.

The camp outside the site is still going strong though, with people refusing to be intimidated by this police thuggery. People are staying overnight but more support is needed. Car-loads of people arriving from all over UK. Come down for the night and weekend! Come now if you can but if not tomorrow morning as early as you can. Day 3 shaped up to be the biggest yet in the fight to keep fracking out of Sussex. Battle for Balcombe far from over!

All are warmly invited to join Balcombe Village in a clear demonstration of front-line protection against those that threaten us and our environment.

Balcombe is only a 25 minutes train-ride north of Brighton, and 39 minutes south from London. Some but not all trains on the Brighton – London line stop at Balcombe. Trains run every hour from Brighton and London Bridge and it is also possible to catch trains from London Victoria, usually changing at East Croydon. See the map page for directions to the site, which is a 5 minute walk from Balcombe Station.

Free Bus from Brighton to Balcombe – 7am (each morning) Old Steine bus stop (near RBS). Space for 50+

If you’re driving and have space, please contact to offer a lift!

Things to bring:

Essential – water, food and warm/waterproof clothes, sun protection.

Recommended –
Picnics, cakes, water, tea-making facilities, warm/waterproof clothes, friends, banners, games, music, instruments, Knitting (yellow and black – gasfield free community colours!), blankets, chairs, tables, Gazebos, small tents, plastic cutlery/plates. You get the picture.

Things not to bring:

Alcohol, drugs, anything which could be construed as a weapon, glass etc.

Take Note!:

The Great Gas Gala! will be a clear demonstration of community protection against the threat of harm to our health and environment posed by the fracking industry. The industry is supported by the state and therefore there will almost certainly be a police-presence. Know your rights and don’t be intimidated. The Gala will be an inclusive, friendly space. We won’t be bullied.

See you at the Gala, it’ll be a gas!


The earliest calls for women to be given the vote in the United Kingdom began in the nineteenth century, with local women’s groups organising petitions and distributing propaganda.

In 1896, the National Union of Women’s Suffrage Societies (NUWSS) was founded, to act as an umbrella organisation for the many local societies, and to work with sympathetic members of parliament. Despite some early successes, including the second reading of a private member bill in 1897, the South African War (1898-1902) meant that Parliament’s attention was focussed elsewhere.

In 1903, after the end of the war, the campaign gained a new impetus, and women’s suffrage was once again debated in parliament. In the same year, in Manchester, a more radical group, the Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU) was founded by Emmeline Pankhurst and her daughter. Their frustration with the NUWSS meant that from 1905 onwards WSPU used new tactics including civil disobedience, rallies and demonstrations.

This coin – a perfectly ordinary penny minted in 1903 – was part of this civil disobedience. Stamped with the suffragette slogan “votes for women”, it circulated as small change, and spread the message of the campaigners. At the time, defacing a coin was a serious criminal offence, and the perpetrators risked a prison sentence had they been caught. We don’t know when the slogan was stamped on this coin, but stamping it on small change rather than a silver coin meant that it was less likely to be taken out of circulation by the banks. The message could have circulated for many years, until the law giving women the same voting rights as men was passed in 1928.