Back in 2009 Plane Stupid were among a festive group of folk protesting against the terrifying implications of carbon trading as part of the Climate Camp at the G20 demonstrations. Our own Josh Moos was one of the two activists who not only took a beating that evening, but went on to jump through legal hoops to try and bring those responsible for police violence to account. In a remarkable ruling, the Police were in the dock and found guilty today.
Here is Josh Moos's statement on the ruling:
"I have witnessed and been on the receiving end of police violence before. The police have a history of gross violence, and what I saw on the 1st and 2nd April was deeply disturbing because of it's sheer scale. The officers behaved as if they had been unleashed upon us and were free to use as much force as they wished without provocation or any other justification. This was not misbehaviour by a few, out of control 'bad apples'; it was systematic and orchestrated. Today the court has ruled, in clear terms, that it was unlawful and nothing I nor anyone else demonstrating at the Carbon Exchange did in any way to justify the kettling and violence to which we were subjected. The ruling is very welcome, but better still would be an acceptance by the police of their own wrongdoing. That has still to come."
This blog carries a warning. Before reading it, fortify yourself with a little rum or whisky. Flying Matters, the pro-aviation lobby group that has fought so hard for expansion of airports across the country, is to fold. According to that well-known publication 'An Executive Review of Business Travel', Flying Matters will be wound up at the end of the month because its corporate backers (mostly airlines) are falling out amongst themselves about the future direction of policy.
So it is farewell to it's chairman Brian Wilson, the once radical Labour MP, who became Tony Blair's Energy Minister and a big defender of nuclear power and airport expansion. Who would have though it would end like this for the radical young journalist who, 40-odd years ago, founded the West Highland Free Press, the hugely popular newspaper which brought a breath of fresh air to Scotland's highlands and island by giving a voice to the crofters and challenging the staid establishment press.
And it's farewell, too, to the face of Flying Papers, Michelle di Leo. Michelle, who once tried to join the anti-expansion network, AirportWatch, under an assumed name, is the daughter of Tony Blair's first aviation minister Glenda Jackson MP. She married Jackson's Dan Hodges who chaired Freedom to Fly, the earlier pro-aviation lobby group, which folder in 2003.
The demise of Flying Matters is a sign of the confusion within the UK aviation industry. It is still in a state of shock that a conservative-led Government dared to drop new runways at Heathrow, Stansted and Gatwick. Never before has the industry had such a reverse. For 50 years it has got what it wanted. But it was on the wrong side of the popular revolt - against a third runway at Heathrow. Flying Matters has been swept aside by that.
An executive review of Business Travel commented:
"The organisation did cover a wide spectrum of the industry, including both British Airways and Unite, but there was an argument that Flying Matters carried little weight of influence." It went on: "Any future lobbying group is expected to be formed around a more focused alliance. Vital is the selection of the individual to lead such a coalition, common consensus being that British Aviation is currently lacking such a person."
Plane Stupid doesn't do obituaries. True, we'll make the mother of all exceptions when the aviation industry dies a death. But we have to mark the passing of Harry Coover. An unsung hero of activists across the world. The man who invented superglue!
His great invention has been used in protests in Gaza, against whaling, against the RBS bank and by Plane Stupid's Dan Glass when he superglued himself to Gordon Brown when he was prime minister in protests against plans for a third runway at Heathrow.
You see, it's so convenient. Tuck a little into your pocket. The cops will never notice. And if they do they are stuck with the problem! If they don't - and they usually don't - Harry's invention allows an activist to stick it to the authorities at will. A little bit of glue can go a long way! And the authorities aren't likely to forget the day they encountered the sticky problem. Long after Gordon Brown has forgotten the precise details of his last speech, he'll remember the day a young man superglued himself to his suit. And what he was protesting about. Superglue has become a great tool in the the long line of creative protest that makes a serious point in a memorable way. Thanks Harry.
Harry Coover - to give him his full title, Dr Harry Coover Jr - discovered superglue by accident. In 1952 a researcher named Fred Joyner, who was working with Harry Coover at Eastman Kodak's laboratory in Tennessee, was looking for a temperature-resistant coating for jet cockpits. When he spread a compound between to lenses they became permanently bonded together. Joyner's initial reaction was panic at the loss of expensive lab equipment. But Harry Coover recognised the potential in the sticky adhesive, namely that it required no heat or pressure to bond, and so superglue was born. Since then it has been used to strengthen bridges, patch together internal organs of wounded soldiers in Vietnam and repair the engine of the space shuttle Discovery And of course it's been gold-dust for campaigners.
Harry Coover - who was 94 when he died - had 400 patents to his name but he will be forever remembered for just one - superglue. Support Plane Stupid, support superglue, support the downfall of the aviation industry. Stick it to them!
On the weekend of the 20th and 21st March, P.E.D.A.L. began its 100 day cycle ride at Grow Heathrow in Sipson. The choice of the bicycle as an empowering tool is designed to show the need for a life without dependency on fossil fuels and unsustainable transport.A life where there are other options than flying which simply transports you from A to B with no appreciation for what is along the way.
P.E.D.A.L set off on Monday 21st March with a critical mass of cyclists leaving from Grow Heathrow and stopping off at significant sites in London perpetrating oppression and those in resistance.
Speakers along the way on the critical mass included Mortaza Sahibzada, the managing editor of the Jewish National Fund (JNF) eBook Series and Naomi Wimborne Idrisssi, the Secretary of Jews for boycotting Israeli goods. Presentations included stories of struggle and hope in the UK relating to the Palestine struggle outside the Israeli embassy, outside beauty product store Ahava in central London who sell Israeli goods produced from land on illegally occupied territories and then at Cable Street - the scene of historic anti-fascist and anti-racist riots back in the 1930s.
The group will be cycling in solidarity with Palestinian and Israeli popular resistance movements- responding to the call-out from Palestinian civil society in 2005 to support the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions campaign. The ride will trace a trail of corporations complicit in the occupation, pollinate information about the campaign and support activists on trial for BDS actions.
The final destination is Palestine and along the way they will stop at many locations across Europe and the Middle East. The purpose of P.E.D.A.L is to highlight the link between social and environmental injustices and how people across borders are responding to them in creative and innovative ways. This will be seen along the route they as they visit different communities where resistance takes positive forms.
PEDALler Andy Grange said:
"In 2011 we have seen explosions of people power across the Middle East. Across the world communities are fighting battles against economic, environmental and political injustice. Nowhere more do we see this than with the Palestinian people struggling for self-reliance, political rights, and liberation. PEDAL begins at an exciting time for popular movements fighting back."
In a decision that makes sense, Leeds/Bradford airport is to be left without any flights going to London. Flying short-haul is the single most damaging thing an individual can to in terms of your carbon footprint so this move has been a long time coming.
Flybe blame the cancellation of their service to London on increasing landing fees at Gatwick but surely this service along with all other domestic flight services in the country should be cancelled.
50,000 passengers flew from Leeds/Bradford airport to Gatwick last year, the big majority of those people being the very rich who can afford it. Most of us take take the train round the country. The train from Leeds to London KX takes just over 2 hours and is 10 times less polluting than flying. Trains not planes!
Our very own Dan Glass from Plane Stupid will be debating live on the Guardian website today from 1-3pm. Dan will be arguing that grassroots movements are the most effective way of creating change as opposed to top heavy methods from big charities. Check out the panel below:
A founding partner of The Good Agency, Chris has worked on social and environmental campaigns across not-for-profit, corporate, and government sectors for the last 17 years, developing and implementing communications strategies to engage stakeholders to motivate behavioural and attitudinal change. His experience includes working with ActionAid to tackle issues such as conflict diamonds and patent on food; combating discrimination for Age Concern; banning wild animals in circuses, fighting intensive farming and irresponsible puppy breeding for the RSPCA; with UNISON on public engagement campaigns and social and environmental internal engagement campaigns for corporations like Mars and Diageo.
Linda Butcher joined SMK in September 2008, having been active in the voluntary and community sectors for more than two decades. From 2001-2008, she was Chief Executive of Off the Streets and Into Work (OSW), a charity that worked to alleviate poverty, homelessness and disadvantage, leading the development of the organisation from a London-based programme into an award winning, transnational network of organisations and individuals. OSW and CRISIS merged in 2010. Linda has also been a member of the London School of Economics Research Ethics Committee since 2008.
Dan organises with grassroots movements 'Plane Stupid Scotland' and 'So We Stand', bringing together anti-racism, anti-poverty and anti-climate change struggles to take united action.
He has spent the past five years in inner-city community and youth organising in Glasgow, Manchester and London. During this time he has worked building strategies for self-defence with communities of colour and economically marginalised communities that are disproportionately affected by polluting industries. Dan revels in finding ways to be a thorn in the side for those destroying the planet including duly occupying airports and dancing with old ladies blighted by flightpaths.
Jenny Driscoll, Senior Communications Manager at Which?
Jenny has been at Which? for over 12 years and have worked on campaigns in personal finance, energy, food and health. She has held various positions so has vast experience of targeting media, industry and government to achieve campaign aims. Prior to joining Which?, Jenny worked for ActionAid and the Church Urban Fund.
Join in the fun by leaving a comment here, or ask a question live and follow the debate today, Tuesday 15th March, from 1-3pm.