All posts by Tony Gosling

Beginning his working life in the aviation industry and trained by the BBC, Tony Gosling is a British land rights activist, historian & investigative radio journalist. Over the last 20 years he has been exposing the secret power of the Bank for International Settlements (BIS) and élite Bilderberg Conferences where the dark forces of corporations, media, banks and royalty conspire to accumulate wealth and power through extortion and war. Tony has spent much of his life too advocating solutions which heal the wealth divide, such as free housing for all and a press which reflects the concerns of ordinary people rather than attempting to lead opinion, sensationalise or dumb-down. Tony tweets at @TonyGosling. Tune in to his Friday politics show at BCfm.

Bright Green Lies: Paul Mobbs’ Review Of Julia Barnes’ Documentary And Its ‘Deep Green’ Message

‘Bright Green Lies’

“When people talk about 100% renewable energy transition to save the planet, to save civilisation, what they’re actually talking about is sustaining modern high-energy ways of life, at the expense of the natural world.”

A brief review of the film and its ‘deep green’ message.

http://www.fraw.org.uk/blog/2021/20210507-bright_green_lies.shtml

7th May 2021 – It’s been a year since ‘Planet of the Humans’ caused the leaders of climate campaigns to go into heated meltdown. By comparison, this film throws them an even greater challenge to try and respond to.

Being ‘well known’ in eco-circles, you sometimes get strange, often unsolicited stuff arriving in your inbox. This, however, was something I’d been hoping for: A chance to view, and thus review, ‘Bright Green Lies’1 – Julia Barnes’ new documentary about the environmental movement and its support for renewable energy.

‘Planet of the Humans’2 (PotH) was entertaining. At a general level it was factual, albeit a polemic expression of those points. But its protracted period of production meant that it lacked coherence, and thus left itself open to easy criticism.

Those criticisms when they came, however, fell directly into the lap of the central argument of the film3That mainstream environmentalists distort facts to promote an erroneous vision of the measures necessary to ‘save the planet’.

It wasn’t just Josh Fox, backed by green entrepreneurs4, engaging in a cavalier reshaping of fact and quotations to blacken the name of the film. Our own George Monbiot engaged in5 his own well-honed distortion of fact and quotation via The Guardian (symbolic of a number of their recent failures) in order to try and prevent people watching the film on this side of the pond.

‘Bright Green Lies’ is very different: Like PotH, once again it presents the personal viewpoint of the director, Julia Barnes. Unlike PotH, though, it has a very different tone, building upon the immediacy and well-researched content of the eponymous book by Derrick Jensen6Lierre Keith7, and Max Wilbert8 – all of whom appear in the film.

You get the core of the film’s argument over the first five minutes, as the four main protagonists set out their respective take on the ‘bright green’ position [time index in film is shown in brackets]:

‘Bright Green Lies’, the book
Derrick Jensen, Lierre Keith, and Max Wilbert,
Monkfish Book Publishing,
1st April 2021.‘Bright Green Lies’, the film
Julia Barnes, 22nd April 2021.

  • Barnes: “People rarely question the solutions they are taught to embrace, but with all the world at stake we must start asking the right questions. There is a push for a 100% renewable world, and after the research I’ve done for this documentary, I want no part of it. I did not become an environmentalist to protect my way of life, or the civilisation in which I live. I did it because I am in love with life on this planet, and because the world I love is under assault. This film is for those whose allegiance is with the living world. Those who would do whatever it takes to defend it.”[02:26]
  • Jensen: “You will have hundred of thousands of people marching in the streets of Washington, or New York, or Paris; and, if you ask those individuals ‘why are you marching?’, they will say, ‘we wanna save the planet’. And if you ask them for their demands they will say, ‘we want subsidies for the wind and solar industry’. That’s extraordinary. I can’t think of any time in history when any mass movement has been so completely captured, and turned into lobbyists for an industry.”[03:49]
  • Keith: “The environmental movement used to be a very impassioned group of people who cared very deeply about the places we loved and the creatures we loved. What happened, though, in my lifetime, was that this movement which was so honourable and impassioned, it turned into something completely different. And now its about protecting a destructive way of life, while it destroys the creatures and the places we love. It’s all become, ‘how to we continue to fuel this destruction?’, as if the only problem was that we were using oil and gas.”[03:16]
  • Wilbert: “The natural world isn’t really part of the conversation any more. Kumi Naidoo, the former head of Greenpeace, I was watching him being interviewed the other day. He was saying, ‘The planet’s going to survive, the oceans are going to survive, the forests are going to survive, it’s really about can we save ourselves or not’. And I just saw that and I’m thinking, what the hell are you saying?… This is someone who’s considered to be one of the top environmentalists in the world and he’s saying we don’t have to worry about the forests or the oceans? I mean, that just betrays a complete lack of empathy and connection to the natural world. I don’t know how you could possibly say that when we’re in the midst of the Sixth Great Mass Extinction, and it’s being caused by industrial culture. It’s being caused by the same institutions, the same economies, the same systems, the same raw materials, the same extractive mindset, that is being used for these renewable energy technologies.”[04:36]

My introduction to ‘environmentalism’ started before I’d seriously heard the word; growing up in a semi-rural working class family who grew their own food, kept chickens, and foraged. Likewise, coming into contact with ‘mainstream’ environmentalism in the mid-1980s introduced me to the concept of ‘bright green’9 before I’d heard that term either.

If there’s one general criticism I have (in part because the book, too, glosses over it), it is the failure to explore the class bias of environmentalism10. It is dominated by the middle class (and in UK, led by the upper-middle class); and so the economically ‘aspirational’ middle class values suffuse its agenda. That’s overlooked in the film.

That this movement should innately favour individualist materialist values11, over communal or spiritual ones, should therefore be of no surprise. That does not condemn these groups, or render them incapable12 of change. What it makes them do is reflect a narrow focus of both concerns and solutions13. More importantly, in a mass political society, it makes it difficult for them to have empathy with14 a large majority of the public – and that hampers their ability to make change.

That bias towards affluence15 informs their ideological values, which in turn have come to dominate contemporary environmentalism. As said in the film:

“Bright Green Environmentalism is founded on the notion that technology will solve environmental problems; and that you can, through 100% recycling, through wind and solar power, have an industrial economy that does not harm the planet. Deep ecology is the belief that we need to radically change the way society functions in order to be sustainable.”[05:30]

The spectre of this early ideological differentiation has haunted the movement. Just as Keith outlines, for me it became evident around 1988 to 1990. Figures such as Jonathon Porritt16 and Sara Parkin17 sought to divest the movement of its ‘hairshirt’ image18, and put it on a ‘professional’ footing. As a self-acknowledged ‘fundo’ (the pejorative term used for deep green ‘fundamentalists’ in the Green Party at that time) that didn’t enthuse me one bit.

That ‘professionalised’ approach (for which, read compromise with neoliberal values) would slowly percolate through the movement over the next decade. And with it, the compromise that has stalled more radical responses to ecological issues ever since. That failure has, in part, only escalated these historic internal tensions – tensions that this film, almost certainly, will inflame.

First ‘green consumerism’, and then ‘sustainability’, foundered on the reality that the movement’s role as a ‘stakeholder’ in government and industry programmes produced little change. Today, the issue at the heart of this internecine contention is renewable energy – and whether it is a realistic response to the Climate Emergency, or just another distracting ruse.

I think this film is a good contribution to that contemporary debate. If only to make many people aware that this debate exists19, and so cause people to look at the academic research in more detail.

As Barnes succinctly put it: “We are told that we can have our cake and eat it too.”[01:59] And yes, this really is all about cutting the ‘cake’ of affluence. But the film’s criticism of consumerism was couched in a generic “we”, and therein lies its failing.

When it comes to consumption it is not an issue of ‘we’. It is about how an extremely narrow social and economic elite exploit the majority by giving them the ‘illusion of affluence’20. Albeit one that is today precariously founded upon deepening debt and doubtful economics (a ‘deep’ issue21 in-and-of itself).

By not making the case that it is a highly privileged minority22 causing/benefiting from ecological destruction (see graph below)23, the film and book miss the opportunity to state arguments such as:

Oxfam, ‘Extreme Carbon inequality’, 2015

In a situation where – both globally but also in the most polluting states – it is a minority which is causing these problems, that redefines its political ‘reality’ in different terms. To be fair, Barnes strays into this issue at points:

“The ocean is the foundation of life on this planet. The fact that we’re losing it at the rate we are is alarming. I think part of the reason we’re failing is that we ask what is politically possible more often than we ask what is necessary.”[41:37]

Simple logic demands that this minority urgently change their lifestyle, lest the majority, threatened by ecological breakdown, seek to rest it from them. It is how they do this which is another live issue. Frankly, that’s not going too well right now:

Currently Western states are seeking to repress protests28 against the climate emergency, to forestall calls for more radical change;

While at the same time, billionaires create bunkers29 in remote locations to survive any future backlash from the dispossessed majority.

This creates a powerful incentive for the ‘impoverished majority’ to rest control away from the economic elite driving ecological breakdown.

The reality is, though, neither Greenpeace, WWF, nor even Extinction Rebellion, are likely to pick up that banner any time soon. Their failure to recognise affluence as a driver for ecological destruction negates their ability to act to stop it. Instead tokenistic measures, like renewable energy, supplant calls for meaningful systemic change.

jump to bookmarks

Economics versus ecological limits

About half-way through, Max Wilbert elucidates a truth that doesn’t get nearly enough exposure:

“When people talk about 100% renewable energy transition to save the planet, to save civilisation, what they’re actually talking about is sustaining modern high-energy ways of life, at the expense of the natural world.”[26:38]

I’m sure a number will recognise that from many of my previous workshops. In fact, I’ve just had a Facebook post blocked for, ‘violating community standards’. The offence? It linked to a summary of the research30 making this same point; and it’s not the first time that’s happened. It’s a touchy subject!

In 2005, my own book, ‘Energy Beyond Oil’31, visited many of the issues explored in the film/book. In far less detail though, as there was nowhere near the quantity of research evidence available back then. What that also highlights, though, is how over the interim: ‘Bright green’ environmentalism has been unable to comprehend32 the message from this new research; while at the same time deliberately deflecting people’s attention towards points of view which have a questionable basis33 for support.

On that point, I think Max Wilbert gives a most eloquent view for how mainstream environmentalism sold itself on the altar of green consumerism:

“They want us to believe that consumer choices are the only way we can change things. But if we accept that then it means that they’ve won, because we’re defining ourselves as consumers…
I have to buy things within this culture to survive, and that is not something that defines me or my power as an actor in this world. I would say much more fundamentally I am an animal. I have hands. I have feet. And I can walk places. And I can do things. And I have a voice. And I have the ability to speak with people and build a relationship with people. And I have the ability to organise. And I have the ability to fight if need be. These are all much more important than my ability to buy or not buy something.”
[48:28]

Since ‘Planet of the Humans’, many on the ‘bright green’ side of the aisle have learned a lesson. Their hysterical condemnation of the film, to the point of calling for it to be banned, only served to feed it greater publicity, ensuring more would see it.

Their lack of response this time is perhaps also due to how well the film exposes the fragility of their arguments. One of the bright points in the film was the way in which ‘deep green’ criticisms were dovetailed alongside interviews with those they criticised – amplifying the substance of the disagreement between each side.

  1. Energy Research
    & Social Science:
    ‘Energy transitions or additions? – Why a transition from fossil fuels requires more than the growth of renewable energy’,
    vol.51 pp.40-43, May 2019

I think my favourite was the segment on Richard York’s research34, showing that growing renewable energy actually displaces a very minimal level of fossil fuels. When York’s point was put to David Suzuki, his reply, which I too have often received, was, ”So what is the conclusion form an analysis like that, we shouldn’t do anything?”[24:08]

The film brilliantly explodes this false dilemma. When pushed, about needing to tackle things systemically rather than just trying to influence behaviour, Suzuki’s response was, “yeah, there’s no question our major impact on the planet now, not just in terms of energy, is consumption. And that was a deliberate programme…”[24:26]

When it comes to the ‘liberal’ solutions to the climate crisis generally, I think Lierre Keith gives the most perceptive criticism of the simplistic, ‘bright green’ arguments for change[1:03:23]:

  1. Ecological Economics:
    ‘Economics for the future: Beyond the super-organism’,
    vol.169 art.106520, March 2020

[Capitalism] takes living communities, it converts those into dead commodities35, and then those dead commodities are turned into private wealth. And a lot of people think, well, if we just make that into public wealth, we all could get an equal piece of the pie, that’s the solution. The problem is that’s not going to be a solution because you’ve still got the first two parts of that equation. Why are we taking the living planet and turning it into dead commodities? That’s the problem…

It’s the fact that rivers, and grasslands, and forests, and fish, have been turned into those dead commodities, that’s the problem.”

Jensen then bookends Keith’s point with another, straightforward invalidation of the basic premise of the bright green approach[1:04:33]:

  1. Nature:
    ‘A safe operating space for humanity’,
    vol.461 pp.472-475,
    September 2009

“What do all the so called, ‘solutions’, to global warming have in common? They all take industrial capitalism as a given, and so conform to industrial capitalism. They’ve switched the dependent and the independent variables. The world has to be primary, and the health of the world has to be primary36, because without a world you don’t have any economy whatsoever. And the bright greens are very explicit about this. What they’re trying to save is industrial capitalism, industrial civilisation. And that’s my fundamental beef, because what I’m trying to save is the real world.”

jump to bookmarks

Climate inequality meets decolonialism

Jensen makes an interesting observation towards the end of the film:

“The thing that blows me away is the lengths that people will go to avoid looking at the problem. That they will create all these extraordinary fantasies in order to do something that’s not going to help the planet so they can avoid looking at the real issue. Which is that industrial civilisation itself is what’s killing the planet.”[59:40]

Likewise Barnes astutely characterises the basic block to progress towards the near end:

“Bright green environmentalism has gained popularity because it tells a lot of people what they want to hear. That you can have industrial civilisation and a planet too. It allows people to feel good about maintaining this destructive way of living and to avoid asking hard questions about the depth of what must be changed.”[1:05:04]

For me, though, it was Keith’s discussion about what it is ‘civilisation’ is based upon[1:00:02] which brought a long overdue argument into circulation: Criticism of the ‘resource island’ model for the modern city, and its inherent link to the global expropriation and exploitation of land.

Driven by the wealthiest ‘city’ state’s need to maintain consumption, the inherent ‘neocolonial’ aspects of international climate negotiations are something the climate lobby too often overlook. Especially in relation to issues such as carbon offsets, and the global allocation of carbon budgets, and their inherent global inequality.

At some point environmental groups must call ‘bullshit’ on these whole neocolonial proceedings37, and start giving equal value to all humans, irrespective of their present-day privilege. More importantly, we have to give ecological capacity, currently occupied by human societies, back to natural organisms to allow them sufficient space to live too.

Before ‘Bright Green Lies’ turned up, I had just seen Raoul Peck’s excellent, ‘Exterminate All The Brutes’38. Coming to the end of ‘Bright Green Lies’, what startled me was how the two films arrived at a very similar place. Both showed similar blocks towards acceptance of the radical change required, around both ecological change and decolonialism.

To understand Peck’s film it helps to have read, ‘Heart of Darkness’39. In structuring the film around the characters in that book, and contrasting it to The Holocaust, Peck shows how indifference to European and US colonialism enabled The Holocaust to take place[Episode 4, 46:57 to 54:11]:

“It is not knowledge that is lacking… The educated general public has always largely known what atrocities have been committed and are being committed in the name of progress, civilization, socialism, democracy, and the market…

At all times, it has also been profitable to deny or suppress such knowledge… And when what had been done in the heart of darkness was repeated in the heart of Europe, no one recognized it. No one wished to admit what everyone knew.

Everywhere in the world this knowledge is being suppressed. Knowledge that, if it were made known, would shatter our image of the world and force us to question ourselves. Everywhere there, Heart of Darkness is being enacted…

Black Elk, holy man of the Oglala Lakota people, said after the Wounded Knee Massacre, ‘I didn’t know then how much was ended… A people’s dream died there. It was a beautiful dream. The nation’s circle is broken and scattered. There is no centre any longer, and the sacred tree is dead.’”

  1. Nature Communications:
    ‘Renewable energy production will exacerbate mining threats to biodiversity’,
    vol.11 art.4174,
    1st September 2020

There are uncomfortable parallels between Peck’s insights into Holocaust denial, and the denial of the crimes of colonialism, and the everyday denial of the damage that affluence and material consumption are causing to the entire planet. From the horrors of resource mining40, to the devastation of the oceans by plastics, such evidence represents a constant ‘background noise’ in the modern media. A noise people have learned to ignore, in order to keep functioning amidst the cognitive dissonance of their everyday, disconnected lives.

As Peck says, “It is not knowledge that is lacking”. People are aware. The fact that they will not engage with the issue, as outlined in ‘Bright Green Lies’, is that people innately know the extent of their own complicity. To do so, ‘would shatter our image of the world and force us to question ourselves’.

  1. PNAS:
    ‘People have shaped most of terrestrial nature for at least 12,000 years’,
    vol.118(17) no.e2023483118,
    27th April 2021

We do not need more ‘evidence’. The block to ecological change is not simply a lack of ‘knowledge’. It is that many all too well understand the reality of what stopping the ecological crisis41 would entail. Trapped by their subconscious fear for what that would mean personally, they cannot see a solution to the psychological dependency engendered by consumerism and industrial society.

Mainstream environmentalism, as the film outlines, is its own worst enemy. In advocating ephemeral, consumer-based solutions to tackling ecological breakdown, it creates its own certain failure. Unfortunately, unless the counter-point to that, the ‘deep green’ argument, is able to give people the confidence to accept and let go of industrial society, it will not make progress either. I think this film almost gets there; but we need to focus far more on the workable, existing examples of people living outside of that system to give people the confidence to make that internal, ‘leap of faith’. For those who want to follow this road, and perhaps provide those examples, this film is a good starting point to build from.

 

 

Created: Friday 7th May 2021.
Length: ~3,450 words.

Click for hotkeys list

Page bookmarks
(use section number as a hotkey to jump to it).
  1. Environmentalism is a ‘class’ issue.
  2. Economics versus ecological limits.
  3. Climate inequality meets decolonialism.
  1. Vimeo On-Demand:
    ‘Bright Green Lies’,
    21st April 2021
  2. YouTube:
    ‘Planet of the Humans’,
    21st April 2020
  3. Ramblinactivist’s Blogs:
    ‘‘Planet of the Humans’ – A (long-form) review of… the reviews.’, 1st May 2020
  4. The Grayzone:
    ‘Green’ billionaires behind professional activist network that led suppression of ‘Planet of the Humans’ documentary’,
    7th December 2020
  5. Ramblinactivist’s Blogs:
    ‘Cooking scones with The Prodigy; or, why do climate campaigners not understand logical fallacies?’,
    18th May 2020
  6. Wikipedia:
    ‘Derrick Jensen’
  7. Wikipedia:
    ‘Lierre Keith’
  8. Max Wilbert’s
    website
  9. jump to bookmarks

    Environmentalism is a ‘class’ issue

    1. Wikipedia:
      ‘Bright green environmentalism’
    2. Sociological Review:
      ‘Environmentalism, Middle-Class Radicalism And Politics’,
      vol.28 no.2, 1980
    3. Environmental Conservation:
      ‘Sympathy for the environment predicts green consumerism but not more important environmental behaviours related to domestic energy use’,
      vol.43 no.2, January 2013
    4. Journal of Experimental
      Social Psychology:
      ‘Social class, control, and action – Socioeconomic status differences in antecedents of support for pro-environmental action’,
      vol.77 pp.60-75, 2018
    5. Architectural Science Review:
      ‘Values and sustainable lifestyles’,
      vol.53 pp.37-50, 2010
    6. Sociological Perspectives:
      ‘Eco-habitus or Eco-powerlessness? Examining Environmental Concern across Social Class’,
      vol.62 no.5, March 2019
    7. Sustainable Development:
      ‘Creating Sustainable Identities – The Significance of the Financially Affluent Self’,
      vol.18 pp.123-134, March 2010
    8. Wikipedia:
      ‘Jonathon Porritt’
    9. Wikipedia:
      ‘Sara Parkin’
    10. Wikipedia:
      ‘Hairshirt environmentalism’
    11. YouTube:
      ‘Forget Shorter Showers’, 2015
    12. Nature Communications:
      ‘Scientists’ warning on affluence’,
      19th June 2020
    13. Wikipedia:
      ‘Degrowth’
    14. Nature Energy:
      ‘Large inequality in international and intranational energy footprints between income groups and across consumption categories’,
      vol.5 pp.231-239, March 2020
    15. Oxfam:
      ‘Extreme Carbon Inequality – Why the Paris climate deal must put the poorest, lowest emitting and most vulnerable people first’,
      December 2015
    16. Oxfam:
      ‘Confronting carbon inequality – Putting climate justice at the heart of the COVID-19 recovery’,
      21st September 2020
    17. PNAS:
      ‘The carbon footprint of household energy use in the United States’,
      vol.117(32) pp.19122-19130, August 2020
    18. Global Sustainability:
      ‘The unequal distribution of household carbon footprints in Europe and its link to sustainability’,
      vol.3 e18, 6th July 2020
    19. Global Environmental Change:
      ‘Providing decent living with minimum energy – A global scenario’,
      vol.65 art.102168, November 2020
    20. Guardian On-line:
      ‘Environment protest being criminalised around world, say experts’, 29th April 2021
    21. Forbes:
      ‘Billionaire Bunker Owners Are Preparing For The Ultimate Underground Escape’,
      27th March 2020
    22. Paul Mobbs & MEIR:
      ‘The Invisible, and Growing Ecological Footprint of Digital Technology’,
      January 2020
    23. Paul Mobbs & MEIR:
      ‘‘Energy Beyond Oil’ – Could You Cut Your Energy Use by Sixty Percent?’,
      June 2005
    24. Journal of Cleaner Production:
      ‘Diverging pathways to overcoming the environmental crisis – A critique of eco-modernism from a technology assessment perspective’,
      vol.197(2) pp.1854-1862, October 2018
    25. Globalizations:
      The appallingly bad neoclassical economics of climate change,
      1st September 2020
    26. Wikipedia:
      ‘Neocolonialism’
    27. Wikipedia:
      ‘Exterminate All The Brutes (2021 film)’
    28. Wikipedia:
      ‘Heart of Darkness’

New Ruling Ends Recent Attempts To Get Wide Anti-Traveller Injunctions

New ruling puts an end to wide anti-Traveller injunctions

12 May, 2021
https://www.gypsy-traveller.org/news/new-ruling-puts-an-end-to-wide-anti-traveller-injunctions/

A landmark ruling today marks the end of wide anti-Traveller injunctions against persons unknown. The judgment harshly criticises the use of wide injunctions as a blanket ban against Gypsies and Travellers who have nowhere to stop.

Charities including Friends, Families and Travellers, London Gypsies and Travellers and the National Federation of Gypsy Liaison Groups who acted as interveners in the case with legal representation from Garden Court Chambers and Community Law Partnership are today celebrating the good news.

Wide injunctions against persons unknown have been used by councils in England to prevent Gypsies and Travellers from stopping on public land since 2015, despite the fact that the majority of councils have failed to identify land for sites and stopping places.

The judgment builds on a previous ruling, which found in January last year that borough-wide injunctions are inherently problematic and they comprise a potential breach of both the [European] Convention [on Human Rights] and the Equality Act.

Responding to the news, Emma Bray, Outreach Worker and Campaigns Officer at Friends, Families and Travellers said:

Since my early childhood I have always had a feeling of being invisible or a thorn in the foot for councils and officials. With constant evictions and never being consulted on policies that directly affect our lives added to this feeling so todays decision gives me hope for my childrens futures.

In his judgement today, Mr Justice Nicklin ruled that wide injunctions can only be granted against individuals who can be named or properly identified. Councils need to demonstrate they have notified them about the legal proceedings. Secondly, he ruled that wide injunctions cannot apply to anyone who was not notified about the final Court hearing. This means that any Gypsies or Travellers who come on the land at a later date will not be covered by the injunction.

He also highlighted that a significant number of the [] Claims were allowed to go to sleep following the grant of an interim injunction, and no local authority, which had been granted a Traveller Injunction, took steps to return claims to Court for reconsideration following the decisions of LB Bromley and Canada Goose.

Reflecting on the news, Mattey Mitchell, who is Romany and a Campaigns Officer at Friends, Families and Travellers said:

This is a wonderful victory for justice, fairness and equality in a nation that prides itself on these values. Collective punishment should be a thing of the past, especially when it impacts communities already facing such harsh inequalities. Justice Nicklins judgement today is a breath of fresh air in what can sometimes feel like a hopelessly hostile environment.

At the High Court hearing in January 2021, 13 councils from across England defended their wide injunctions. Friends, Families and Travellers, London Gypsies and Travellers and the National Federation of Gypsy Liaison Groups acted as interveners in the case with legal representation from Garden Court Chambers and Community Law Partnership. Following the judgment today, it is likely that all injunctions against persons unknown will be discharged.

The ruling also has serious implications for the current Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill, which seeks to criminalise the nomadic way of life, and could be used in a legal challenge if the Bill becomes law.

Responding to the news, Abbie Kirkby, Public Affairs and Policy Manager at Friends, Families and Travellers said:

The inhumane approach of acquiring an injunction against all Gypsies and Travellers has once against been recognised by the courts as being unlawful. We are pleased, as joint interveners in the case, to have had the opportunity to assist the court in understanding the discriminatory and disproportionate nature of these injunctions, which are a symptom of the complete failure by local authorities to identify suitable land on which Gypsies and Travellers can stop. This judgment comes at a particularly crucial time as measures which essentially criminalise encampments are set to be introduced in the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill. There are common sense solutions to addressing the accommodation needs of Gypsies and Travellers, that work with families, not against them.

Adding to this, Debby Kennett, Chief Executive of London Gypsies and Travellers said:

We are proud to be involved in this hugely important case which scrutinised the catch-all injunctions which have effectively banned Gypsies and Travellers from stopping in large areas of the country. It has been a long process and this final hearing was a result of councils ignoring the Bromley and Canada Goose judgments. They have now been seriously criticised for doing so. The judgment reinforces the fact that Gypsies and Travellers have the right to a nomadic way of life and we continue to push for positive alternatives to evictions and injunctions.

Commenting on the case, Marc Willers QC, Garden Courts Chambers, said:

Mr Justice Nicklins judgment is a tour de force and will be required reading for any lawyer practising in this field. The decision reaffirms the fundamental principle that final injunctions do not bind non-parties. The Judge rejected the submission that injunctions against Gypsies and Travellers were an exception to this rule. The decision also emphasises the need for rigorous compliance with the rules of civil procedure, with the Judge concluding that there were grounds to suspect that there had been material and serious breaches of procedure in a significant number of cases brought by local authorities. The judgment also recognises the right of Romani Gypsies and Irish Travellers to respect for their cultural traditions, including their enshrined right to travel, as emphasised by Lord Justice Coulson in the Bromley case in 2020.

Chronic UK Housing Destitution: ITV News Political Correspondent Daniel Hewitt Reports

Investigation launched into ‘disgusting’ damp and mouldy council housing after ITV News report

https://www.itv.com/news/2021-04-13/investigation-launched-into-disgusting-damp-and-mouldy-council-housing-after-itv-news-report

he Housing Ombudsman has launched an investigation into “disgusting” social housing conditions after ITV News reports revealed damp and mould was widespread throughout the UK.

Following an initial report on “unliveable” conditions in a number of homes in the London borough of Croydon, ITV News Political Correspondent Daniel Hewitt was “inundated” with “hundreds and hundreds” of examples.

ITV News investigations have found there is a “growing problem with severe mould and damp” throughout the UK, with councils often not dealing with residents’ complaints.

Richard Blakeway, Housing Ombudsman, said mould and damp in someone’s home can have a “significant” impact on their health and their life chances.

He said he’s also “concerned that we are not seeing cases where we could help, and want to investigate further into this issue”.

He said he wants to use new powers to look “in-depth at the response of social landlords to damp and mould issues”.

“I want us to make far-reaching recommendations to promote greater understanding and learning, helping landlords develop their approach to the benefit of residents.”

An initial review of case data found there had been a “high rate” of “maladministration” on cases that feature damp and mould over the last two years.

It said the fact that £68,000 in compensation had been ordered in same period showed “significant impact on residents in some cases”.

We’ve seen hundreds and hundreds of examples’: Daniel Hewitt on the widening housing crisis:

Following the ITV News report in Croydon, the local council issued an apology and took strides toward addressing the issue, with one resident being rehomed.

Public reaction to the report was huge, with social media users labelling the conditions uncovered as “disgusting”, “horrible”, “heartbreaking”, and more.

The Ombudsman wants to publish the findings of its investigation by autumn, and aims to “make far-reaching recommendations that promote greater understanding of the complexity of tackling damp and mould and share best practice across the sector”.

But those with private landlords will not have their concerns addressed as the Ombudsman investigation will only look at council housing and housing associations.

Citizens Advice, which has received 49% more complaints this year about unacceptable living conditions, says the Ombudsman investigation should look at all housing.


Katie Martin, director of external affairs at Citizens Advice said the problem is a “real imbalance of power” between tenants and landlords.

Speaking to ITV News she said: “Landlord are still able to evict a tenant for no reason whatsoever.

“So many people live in fear, that if they make complaints, if they cause problems for their landlords by insisting that they get repairs done, they’re going to get evicted and all too often that happens.”

The Housing Ombudsman has issued a call for evidence to tenants and landlords, asking them to provide information to the information.

People wishing to submit evidence can do so here.

Submit evidence here https://www.housing-ombudsman.org.uk/about-us/corporate-information/publications/spotlight-on-reports/housing-ombudsman-call-for-evidence-investigation-into-damp-and-mould/


United Front Demands: The Yellow Vest Manifesto, Opposing Globalist WWIII Disaster Capitalists

United Front could bring together Black Lives Matter, Anarchists and Extinction Rebellion. Check out the ‘official’ Yellow Vest manifesto

The following list of demands (which lacks only the crucial criminalising of satanism) seems to have first appeared here on December 5th. You’ll have to click on the image to enlarge it if you want to read it in French. We’ve translated it into English (in summary, not word-for-word) below…

Gilets Jaunes’ List of Demands:

Economy/Work
  • A constitutional cap on taxes – at 25%
  • Increase of 40% in the basic pension and social welfare
  • Increase hiring in public sector to re-establish public services
  • Massive construction projects to house 5 million homeless, and severe penalties for mayors/prefectures that leave people on the streets
  • Break up the ‘too-big-to-fail’ banks, re-separate regular banking from investment banking
  • Cancel debts accrued through usurious rates of interest

Politics

  • Constitutional amendments to protect the people’s interests, including binding referenda
  • The barring of lobby groups and vested interests from political decision-making
  • Frexit: Leave the EU to regain our economic, monetary and political sovereignty (In other words, respect the 2005 referendum result, when France voted against the EU Constitution Treaty, which was then renamed the Lisbon Treaty, and the French people ignored)
  • Clampdown on tax evasion by the ultra-rich
  • The immediate cessation of privatisation, and the re-nationalisation of public goods like motorways, airports, rail, etc
  • Remove all ideology from the ministry of education, ending all destructive education techniques
  • Quadruple the budget for law and order and put time-limits on judicial procedures. Make access to the justice system available for all
  • Break up media monopolies and end their interference in politics. Make media accessible to citizens and guarantee a plurality of opinions. End editorial propaganda
  • Guarantee citizens’ liberty by including in the constitution a complete prohibition on state interference in their decisions concerning education, health and family matters

Health/Environment

  • No more ‘planned obsolescence’ – Mandate guarantee from producers that their products will last 10 years, and that spare parts will be available during that period
  • Ban plastic bottles and other polluting packaging
  • Weaken the influence of big pharma on health in general and hospitals in particular
  • Ban on GMO crops, carcinogenic pesticides, endocrine disruptors and monocrops
  • Reindustrialise France (thereby reducing imports and thus pollution)

Foreign Affairs

  • End France’s participation in foreign wars of aggression, and exit from NATO
  • Cease pillaging and interfering – politically and militarily – in ‘Francafrique’, which keeps Africa poor. Immediately repatriate all French soldiers. Establish relations with African states on an equal peer-to-peer basis
  • Prevent migratory flows that cannot be accommodated or integrated, given the profound civilizational crisis we are experiencing
  • Scrupulously respect international law and the treaties we have signed

Tue23Mar21: Right To Reside and Resist Anti-Trespass call to action against Priti Patel’s Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill

Criminalising Trespass, Part Three: Suffocating Spaces Of Resistance

https://thenorwichradical.com/2021/01/11/criminalising-trespass-part-three-suffocating-spaces-of-resistance
The Dangerous Authoritarian Threat Posed by Priti Patel to Our Right to Protest and Dissent | Andy Worthington

http://www.andyworthington.co.uk/2021/03/14/the-dangerous-authoritarian-threat-posed-by-priti-patel-to-our-right-to-protest-and-dissent/

RA-T

Resist Anti-Trespass!

RA-T RESOURCES

RA-T CALLS FOR DAY OF ACTION 23RD MARCH!

RA-T’s Facearse page https://www.facebook.com/ResistingAntiTrespass

We are calling for action on the 23rd March.
(To tie in with the closure of the Legislative Scrutiny consultation led by the Joint Committee of Human Rights of the UK Parliament on the Police Powers and Protections Bill.)

We want to show solidarity with Travellers who are targeted by this bill that will criminalise trespass with intention to reside. We also stand in defiance with other groups under threat including; squatters, rough sleepers, protesters, hunt saboteurs, van dwellers, ravers, boaters

We demand the right to roam and reside. Our land rights have for too long been eroded by a handful of elites who concentrate land ownership. This bill is a direct threat to our ways of life by criminalising our already limited access to the countryside. The government must drop this bill immediately.

LETS TAKE BACK WHAT IS OURS,
RECLAIM THE LAND & RESIST ANTI-TRESPASS LAWS!
Join us for a day of decentralised action against anti-trespass measures to raise awareness and fight this pivotal issue.

Send us the pictures and videos of your actions at:
Resisting_Anti-Trespass@protonmail.com
You can also use #rataction on social media.
Call-to-action-23 download link Download

What are the most controversial parts of the Police Crime Sentencing and Courts Bill?

What are the most controversial parts of the Police Crime Sentencing and Courts Bill?

https://www.mirror.co.uk/news/politics/police-bill-anti-protest-law-23725500

TEARING UP THE POST WAR SETTLEMENT – THE 1948 UNIVERSAL DECLARATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS – Police State UK Criminalising Protest & Homelessness: MPs Are Bringing In Priti Patel’s Police Crime Sentencing & Courts Bill

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=su20v4pop2o

Police can impose more conditions on protests

Clause 55 will let police impose start and finish times and maximum noise levels on a wider range of protests in England and Wales.

Officers will be able to do this if they believe the noise may result in serious disruption to the activities of an organisation nearby.

The power is not limited in the law to noise levels or start times – a police officer can take such conditions as appear necessary to that officer to prevent disorder, damage, disruption, impact or intimidation.

The Home Office argue this is simply widening powers that already exist for moving marches to cover static protests as well. But civil liberties groups say noise and disruption are a key part of making your voice heard.

It will be up to the Home Secretary – currently Priti Patel – to decide the definition of serious disruption.

Serious annoyance will carry up to 10 years jail

Clause 59 will axe the common law definition of public nuisance and replace it with a clear set of words agreed by Parliament.

It will make it a crime to intentionally or recklessly cause public nuisance without a reasonable excuse.

Offenders will get up to a years jail from magistrates or 10 years from a crown court judge if found guilty, in the worst cases.

The government insists this is simply taking the current definition of public nuisance and putting it on a proper footing. This will provide clarity to the police and potential offenders, giving clear notice of what conduct is forbidden, the Home Office said.

But there is not a clear list of reasonable excuses – the government just say defendants will have to prove that excuse existed in court, on the balance of probabilities.

And two words in this clause have attracted a lot of interest.

Someone will fall foul of the law if they have caused a person serious distress, serious annoyance, serious inconvenience or serious loss of amenity. How will serious annoyance be interpreted by police?

Most loudhailers will be banned outside Parliament

Clause 57 will hugely expand the controlled area outside Parliament, where tents and unauthorised loudspeakers or megaphones are banned.

Currently the area only covers the garden and footpaths in the middle of Parliament Square, with other roads around it not under any special anti-protest law.

But the Bill will expand this controlled area to several roads around Parliament after a number of demos stopped traffic. These roads are Canon Row, Parliament Street, Derby Gate, Parliament Square and part of Victoria Embankment.

Those who disobey can be fined up to 5,000.

A similar move was recommended by Parliaments Joint Committee on Human Rights, which warned access to parliament must not be obstructed after a wave of threats against MPs.

However, opposition has united critics from Richard Tice, leader of Nigel Farages anti-lockdown Reform UK party, to Tom Brufatto, former lead organiser of the Peoples Vote marches against Brexit.

In an open letter today they say: As long as laws are made in Parliament, then British people must have a legal right to protest them in Parliament Square. Democracy is not an ‘inconvenience’. Public opposition and dissent are among the hard-won rights that make our democratic and like-minded groups.

One-person protests face a crackdown

One-man anti-Brexit protester Steve Bray (Image: Jeff Mitchell)

Clause 60 has already been dubbed the Steve Bray law, after the man who spent years shouting Stop Brexit! at Parliament.

It will give senior police the power to impose any conditions they see fit on a one-person protest to avoid disruption or impact.

This can only be done if they believe the noise that person is making may result in serious disruption to the activities of an organisation which are carried on in the vicinity of the protest.

But once again, Home Secretary Priti Patel will be able to define this serious disruption.

One-man-bands who knowingly refuse to comply with police orders can be fined up to 2,500. Someone who incites the one-person protest not to comply could be jailed for up to 51 weeks.

Ardent Remainer AC Grayling tweeted: It’s a great honour to Steve Bray, and an unmistakable sign of the weakness, pettiness, illiberality and unintelligence of this Brexiter ‘government’, that it seeks to pass a Bill that singles him out.

He has humiliated and stung them and they want to shut him up; he should be knighted.

Is the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill fit for purpose?

YesNo

Defacing a statue will carry up to 10 years jail

Clause 46 will raise the maximum penalty for criminal damage to a memorial or statue from three months to 10 years.

Currently judges and magistrates have to base their sentence on the monetary value of the damage. In future they will be able to look at the emotional and symbolic value of the damaged statue too, said minister Kit Malthouse.

The Tories are doing this in a culture war after statues including Winston Churchills were attacked or damaged with graffiti.

No10 insisted the focus would be on vile things like anti-Semitic graffiti or attacks on gravestones, war memorials, memorials to people whove been murdered.

But thats not quite how it was trailed in right-wing newspapers. The issue has prompted anger from Labour, who say the move is a distraction and will in theory mean longer sentences for attacking statues than some attacks on women.

People in protest camps can be jailed for three months

Clause 60 will create a new offence of residing on land without consent in or with a vehicle.

This could affect protest camps like Extinction Rebellion, as the law will apply even if their residing is only temporary, and will apply equally to common land and private land.

Protesters can be ordered to leave by police if they are deemed to be causing significant disruption, or even if they havent caused disruption yet but it is deemed likely in future.

If they refuse, they can be fined up to 2,500 or jailed for up to three months.

Police will also be given more powers to remove unauthorised encampments on roads.

A petition signed by more than 130,000 people warned criminalising trespass would be an extreme, illiberal and unnecessary attack on ancient freedoms, adding: For a thousand years, trespass has been a civil offence.

Critics say the law threatens not only protests, but also wild camping, ramblers, new rights of way and Traveller communities.

What else is in the Bill?

The plans include new laws to reform sentencing, the courts and the management of offenders, as well as more powers and protections for the police, some of which will be UK-wide while others may only apply in England and Wales.

All these could in theory still be approved by MPs later, while removing the bits on protest, if the Bill passes second reading.

  • Whole Life Orders for premeditated murder of a child
  • Maximum sentence to 18 to 20-year-olds in exceptional cases, like for acts of terrorism leading to mass loss of life.
  • Powers to halt the automatic early release of offenders who pose a danger to the public
  • Ending the automatic release halfway through a sentence of serious violent and sexual offenders.
  • Life sentences for killer drivers.
  • Expanding position of trust laws to make it illegal for sports coaches and religious leaders to engage in sexual activity with 16 and 17-year-olds in their care.
  • Officers could also be allowed to stop and search people more if plans for serious violence reduction orders go ahead.
  • Legal duty on councils, police, criminal justice bodies, health and fire services to tackle serious violence and share intelligence.
  • Deaf people could sit on juries for the first time.

 

What does it do for women whove suffered violence?

There are some limited clauses, such as ending early release for serious sexual offenders. But Labour have complained the Bill does not do enough to help women.

Shadow domestic violence minister Jess Phillips said: The Bill is full of divisive nonsense like locking up those who damage statues for longer than those who attack women. Now is a moment to change the criminal justice system so it works for women, not to try and divide the country.

Shadow Justice Secretary David Lammy said: In the 20 schedules, 176 clauses and 296 pages of the Conservatives’ Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill, “women” are not mentioned even once.

Police minister Kit Malthouse insisted the government had taken steps to protect women.

He said: The domestic abuse bill, which is an extensive bill that will significantly enhance our ability to confront domestic violence and abuse is just finishing its passage through the House and contains enormous provisions to help us with that fight.

The Domestic Abuse Bill is currently in its report stage in the House of Lords – one of the later steps towards it becoming law.

But it has taken three years to get this far – having been delayed in coming to a vote by two successive General Elections.

What is Labours position?

Labour will vote against the entire Bill at second reading. If that succeeded (it wont) it would kill off the entire Bill at the first hurdle.

Realistically, its likely Labour will then try to amend the most controversial bits of the Bill while supporting other bits of it.

The party says it supports several measures contained within the bill, including proposals on dangerous driving, increased sentences for terrorists and other dangerous offenders, a police covenant, reform to criminal records and closing the loophole to criminalise sexual abuse by people in positions of trust.

The Tories claimed Labour was voting against tougher sentences for child murderers, sex offenders, killer drivers. While Labour is voting against the Bill at its first hurdle, this characterisation is misleading to the point of being untrue.

Shadow Domestic Violence Minister Jess Phillips responded: This is a disgusting and untrue statement. The Conservative Governments Bill does absolutely nothing currently to increase sentences for rapists, stalkers, or those who batter, control and abuse women. It does nothing about street harassment and assaults.

How the present day land-grabbing in Africa is forcing thousands to migrate to Europe

https://yasinkakande.com/2020/06/06/how-the-present-day-land-grabbing-in-africa-is-forcing-thousands-to-migrate-to-europe/

ON 2020-06-06 BY YASINKAKANDE IN AFRICA

IN THIS exclusive excerpt from his new book Why We Are Coming, author Yasin Kakandean international journalist, migrant activist and TED Fellowlays bare the shocking truth about the Western exploitation of Africa that is the root cause of Africans choosing to leave their homelands for the UK, US and other developed nations.

Across Africa many Western investors, including Wall Street bankers and wealthy individuals, are rushing in to acquire agricultural land and are displacing hundreds of thousands of Africans.  This shift places the food system in Africa in the hands of a few Western corporations whose interests are, first and foremost, economic gain.

The list of these recent acquisitions is long and still many of these shady deals are going unreported. Here are a few reported cases which are as graphic; The American investor Philippe Heilberg signed a farmland deal with Paulino Matip, a Sudanese warlord, to lease 400,000 hectares of land (an area the size of Dubai ) in South Sudan in July 2008. South Korean conglomorate Daewoo announced it was leasing 1.3 million hectares (3.2 million acres) of Madagascar for 99 years for about $12 an acre in 2008. In Southern Uganda about the 14,000 villagers who were evicted from their land when the Ugandan government leased 8,000 hectares of land to a Norwegian timber company (Green Resources) in the forest area of Bukaleba. Britishs Tullow acquired 102,500 hectares in Lake Albert Rift basin to explore oil.

The west’s acquisition of continental land is a threat to African economies and livelihoods

In 2017, the Ugandan government tabled a land bill amendment proposal on compulsory acquisition of land for public use, and that it may deposit in court a befitting sum for the land it wants to acquire from the owner. President Yoweri Museveni, a western corporate puppet went on broadcast outlets to explain to the citizens that the amendments are framed for the countrys better interests, and that the government taking over land from owners they deem not suitable for agriculture and giving it to investors ultimately will bring in more revenue to Uganda. Designating some parcels as public land has been the easiest way African leaders have facilitated the land grab in their countries and then they would hand over that land to foreign investors with not so much of a fair compensation to the previous African land owners.

The African leaders who are handing over fertile African land with easy access to water to Western corporations are doing the same thing that colonialists did in earlier times when they designated millions of acres as public land. In Kenya after the highlands were declared crown land the British colonialists handed over to Lord Delamere 100,000 acres at a cost of a penny per acre. Lord Francis Scott purchased 350,000 acres and the East African Syndicate Ltd. took 100,000 acres, all at give-away prices. In Liberia in 1926, the Firestone Rubber Company acquired a million acres of forest land at a cost of six cents per acre. And in The Congo King Leopold II issued decrees that designated all free parcels as government land in effect as his own property, sole proprietorship. He amassed all parcels that natives had not cultivated but instead set aside as hunting grounds or as a plentiful source of wood for building, or for mining iron ore to be used in tools and weapons. The 21st century has seen that practice continue, albeit in a different form.

The future is much darker than what even analysts have predicted

Even though it is important to invest in the African agricultural sector, the Wests acquisition of continental land is a threat to African economies and livelihoods. Evidence shows that these land deals often lack transparency and are frequently mismanaged by governments. Smallholder farmers who are the majority in Africa are being displaced in the process. These farmers are starting to realize what the foreign investors are doing to their livelihoods, and with nothing much to do many are resorting to migration to these countries.

In Africa the European and American foreigners own the land, mines, banks, factories, fuel stations, airlines, and all the wealth coming from these sources are shipped or transferred to the West and what is left in Africa for Africans? What do the citizens of African countries have in their countries to keep them home not to emigrate nothing or too little to sustain their families even on the most modest expectations. This is worsened by the fact that even prospective means like employment that would give them the opportunity to own their titles and deeds to land are nonexistent. At least they can see prospects of employment even in menial jobs in the West or in Middle East countries, much less than the potential to collaborate and start their own enterprises.

African resources are fast becoming depleted and its population is growing at a faster corresponding pace. By 2050, it is predicted the population in most African countries will have doubled and the continent will have almost depleted all of its resources. The future is much darker than what even analysts have predicted and, for sure, more African migrants will continue trying to get to Europe or the U.S. where their resources have built stable economies. Europe and America are already definitely concerned about these demographics and more worried because even family planning strategies that have been promoted in the continent for a long time have not had any yields. Europe and the U.S. stand alone to address honestly the exploitation of Africa and demand from their corporations honest and decent trade practices with the continent.

Why We Are Coming by Yasin Kakande is out now, priced 15.43 in paperback and 4.64 as an eBook (4.64). Visit Amazon. For more information, visit www.yasinkakande.com

Stop The National Trust ‘Rot’ Derek Thomas MP Demands, Profit Driven Charity Must ‘Return To Core Values’

MP says there is rot in the National Trust

https://cornishstuff.com/2020/12/16/mp-says-there-is-rot-in-the-national-trust/

December 16, 2020 Charities, Derek Thomas

Whilst marking its 125th anniversary and praising the National Trust as a fantastic institution and part of Britain’s global offer

Derek Thomas, MP for St Ives (West Cornwall & Scilly) used a debate he led in the House of Commons last night to say there is rot in the National Trust and is calling for a review into whether the charity is behaving in accordance with its core guiding principles.

Mr Thomas provided increasing evidence that the National Trust was reaching far beyond what people believe is their purpose and function.

It is acting as a completely unaccountable body that can imposition lives and livelihoods without any right to reply or recourse, taking no concern for how long it takes to engage even when individuals and businesses are seeking to proactively engage and appease NT staff, he said.

The MP said complaints received from his constituents include:

  • The NT proposing landowners carry out activity (including erecting buildings) on land neither the trust nor the owner owns
  • House sales either falling though or prices dramatically reduced due to obstructive interventions and/or delays by the NT
  • Constituents waiting two and a half years for the NT to finalise a covenant
  • Businesses being charged a levy in return for NT consent to developments on privately-owned land
  • Appearing to favour the promotion of holiday accommodation over the maintenance of small but important farms along the Cornish coast.
  • Blocking efforts to install renewable energy solar panels on privately-owned agriculture buildings.
  • Having a disregard for local sensitivities, listed building regulations and basic planning processes.
  • Refusing to take responsibility for assets which are unsafe for the general public.

Having already written to the Charity Commission requesting they look into NT practices, Mr Thomas said consideration should be given to creating an Ombudsman for people who believe they are being treated wrongfully or poorly by the NT so that they have a method to be heard and for the NT to be held to account, in particular on the way they interpret their covenants, in some cases preventing farmers from carrying with normal farming practices such as removing stones from fields.

Mr Thomas told the House Only this weekend, I was asked, Please could you ask the National Trust if it is still their policy to support small family farms? Or given their current financial crisis will they opt for the short term financial gain of holiday accommodation over the long term benefit of local employment and better husbandry of the land?

Farmers, business owners and home-owners tell me they need an Ombudsman because the cost of litigating to defend themselves is far too high so they buckle under the pressure, he added.

I have a positive history with the National Trust I have tremendous respect for their volunteers who do good work in West Cornwall, I enjoy a good relationship with many of the staff.

I dont believe the Trust is rotten to the core but there is certainly rot within the organisation. 125 years on there is a need to review how it operates to ensure that it delivers on its primary purpose and charitable aims.

Mr Thomas used further examples from Cape Cornwall Golf Club, Levant Mine and Porthleven slipway as difficulties he had encountered with the trust. He said During my brief time as a MP, I have found that the case load of National Trust-related issues is disproportionate to the many other issues that an MPs office encounters.

Defending the timing of his debate, Mr Thomas went on to say This is about identifying some of the concerns that constituents have, in order to address them, so that we can return to the core values and be reminded of the fantastic work that the National Trust can deliver through a huge army of fantastic volunteers across the United Kingdom. However, it is of great concern if the National Trusts approach to increasing yield is to make as much money as it can, rather than protect and enhance small farms and support the fresh blood introduced into the sector.

The full debate can be found here in Hansard

Social Cleansing: Tories new anti-Traveller laws set to criminalise nomadic way of life

9 March 2021

New anti-Traveller laws set to criminalise nomadic way of life

The Government has announced new laws that will make trespass with vehicles a criminal offence – in a move that has caused fury among Gypsy and Traveller campaigners.

The Home Secretary, Priti Patel, said yesterday, that the new laws will target trespassers “who intend to reside on any private or public land in vehicles without permission, and where they are causing significant disruption, distress or harm to local communities.”

“This new offence will enable the police to fine or arrest those residing without permission on private or public land in vehicles in order to stop significant disruption, distress or harm being caused to the law-abiding majority,” she added.

The new law also gives the police the powers to seize and impound vehicles whose owners fail to comply with the new law and who refuse – or can’t – leave.

Gypsy and Traveller campaigners reacted with fury saying that the new laws were racist.

“You are criminalising a problem that has been created by the failings of a political will to deliver appropriate accommodation,” said Joseph P Jones from the Gypsy Council, in a Facebook comment left on Priti Patel’s Facebook page.

Joseph P Jones also pointed out that to get planning permission to develop their own permanent legal Traveller site, Gypsies and Travellers have to obtain ‘gypsy status’, the only requirement of which is to prove that they are – and will – continue to travel.

“Travellers are told they have to prove they travel to gain planning permission for their own private sites,” he added.

“But locally, Councils refuse to provide public sites. Well, racism is alive and well in the Home Office. Through political failure. Be proud of your right-wing achievement.”

Police Powers and Protections Bill (2021)

The Government say that the new offence of criminal trespass will target:

  • A person aged 18 or over resides or intends to reside on land without consent of the occupier of the land;
  • They have, or intend to have, at least one vehicle with them on the land;
  • They have caused or are likely to cause significant damage, disruption or distress;

They, without reasonable excuse:

  • Fail to leave the land and remove their property following a request to do so by an occupier of the land, their representative or a constable; or
  • Enter or, having left, re-enter the land with an intention of residing there without the consent of the occupier of the land, and with an intention to have at least one vehicle with them, within 12 months of a request to leave and remove their property from an occupier of the land, their representative or a constable.
  • Reasonable suspicion that a person has committed this offence confers power on a constable to seize their vehicle/other property [home] for up to three months from the date of seizure or, if criminal proceedings are commenced, until the conclusion of those proceedings.

The new law will affect England and Wales – but not Scotland.

A horse drawn wagon will count as a vehicle. Horse drawn ‘new’ Travellers are worried that their way of life will be destroyed as well. Picture from No Fixed Abode Traveller group

Responding to the news, Abbie Kirkby, Public Affairs and Policy Manager at Friends, Families and Travellers said:

“The Government seems hell bent on introducing tougher police powers for people living on roadside camps, even though all the evidence is stacking up against them – in their own consultation it is clear that most respondents don’t want tougher powers. The views of the majority of consultation respondents have been ignored, opening the door to a harsh and unfair set of proposals which punish some of the UK’s minority ethnic groups, who already face some of the starkest inequalities.

Our research shows that the majority of police respondents are against the proposals and also that there is a chronic national shortage of places to stop. The Government should not imprison people, fine them and remove their homes for the ‘crime’ of having nowhere to go. Another way is possible. Through negotiated stopping and by identifying land where Traveller sites can be built, councils can ensure nomadic families have a safe place to stop, save money on evictions and improve relations between travelling and settled communities. Everybody needs a place to live.”

Responding to the proposals, Jenny, a Romany Gypsy, said:

“My daughter is trying to get a pitch, but loads of families trying, she’s feeling depressed. Her and her partner don’t know where they’re going to go. It’s not right to criminalise us all. We don’t leave any rubbish, we respect the other residents, we clean up after ourselves, but we’re going to be stopped from travelling. There aren’t enough sites for Travellers. We’re being treated like animals. They’re always building more houses but no more sites. She can’t get a site, she can’t stop on the road. She’s tearful, she’s crying a lot. She just wants to settle down and make a life for herself like anyone else.”

The Government promised to bring in the new law in their manifesto for the last election. An image put up on her Facebook page yesterday by Home Secretary Priti Patel

The laws are pretty much what campaigners were fearing and what was promised in the Conservative manifesto at the last election – the criminalisation of trespass with vehicles.

By focusing on vehicles the Government has side-stepped opposition from ramblers and homeless charities. However that makes the new laws easier to challenge under equalities laws as Romany Gypsies and Irish and Scottish Travellers are protected ethnic groups. We understand that lawyers are already geared up to challenge the new laws.

The surprise is that the number of vehicles needed to trigger the new laws has dropped from the promised two to one. This then brings lots of the new single vehicle ‘van-lifers’ parking up on private or public land within the scope of the new law.

On the face of it, the new laws are only triggered if the senior police officer attending the camp believes that the camp “has caused or are likely to cause significant damage, disruption or distress.”

However, “likely to cause” is open to wide interpretations and the powers, and the resulting seizure of vehicles if the camp refuses to disband, will be reliant on the whims and prejudices of the police officers present – and some police officers are more racist than others…

Forgive us our trespasses: forbidden rambles with a right-to-roam campaigner

The law excludes ordinary people from 92% of English land, but that doesn’t stop activist, artist and writer Nick Hayes

Rachel Cooke @msrachelcooke Sun 9 Aug 2020

As Simon Jenkins notes in his book England’s Thousand Best Houses, were it not for the fact that it sits in 400 acres of historic parkland, Basildon Park house in west Berkshire might almost be a Piccadilly terrace: big, but not gargantuan; elegant and harmonious, but too straightforward to be entirely flashy. Glimpsed through trees on a warm summer evening, its magnificent portico crested by golden sunlight, it rises like a beacon, a sight from which it’s hard to tear the eyes. Even when I’m walking away from it, I keep turning my head to check that I didn’t only imagine it; that it hasn’t suddenly vanished into thin air.

But bewitchment is in the air tonight. This place is ours. Though the National Trust reopened these grounds to visitors in June, those who booked tickets for today are long gone now, it being past five o’clock. Circumnavigating the estate’s flinty, tumbledown perimeter wall, we barely saw a soul – only one mountain biker, doggedly following the same bridleway as us – and since we slipped inside the park itself, having finally found a gap just wide enough to allow us to do so, we’ve encountered no one at all. We stride, willy nilly, utterly free, grasshoppers leaping at our feet, the soft wind in the branches above us. What leafy seclusion. It’s so enveloping, and so soothing, I jump halfway out of my skin when a pheasant shrieks in the undergrowth.

There are bylaws around respecting National Trust land but I do not feel deep down that I’m doing much wrong by being here. What harm is there in enjoying such loveliness? I’m a paid up member of the Trust, so this is no embezzlement. Nevertheless, I don’t suppose I would have wriggled through that tempting space had I been alone. I see walls, literal and metaphorical, and often wonder what’s to be found behind them, but I’m too timid, often, to climb them. On this occasion, however, I have courage in the form of company. I’ve been led astray by Nick Hayes, the author of The Book of Trespass, a powerful new narrative about the vexed issue of land rights and a volume that he hopes will both refocus the ongoing campaign to reform the 2000 Countryside and Rights of Way Act by encouraging more people to do as we are doing right now, to walk on privately owned land, and to help build protest against the Conservative party’s plan – a manifesto commitment – to make trespass a criminal offence. Not only is Hayes practically a professional trespasser these days, no sign too forbidding to be ignored, no fence too high to be climbed. In my case, he’s like a naughty younger brother, egging me on, urging me blithely to step over whatever impediment happens to be in my way. “They can’t do anything to us,” he says, cheerfully. “They can ask us to leave, but we can’t be prosecuted. Trespass is a mechanism for seeking redress for damage, and it would be absurd to suggest we are damaging anything.” (Trespass can be actionable through the courts, whether or not the claimant has suffered damage – but such cases are rare, and usually only brought to deter persistent trespassing, or where there are boundary disputes.)

This is the part of Berkshire, not far from the River Thames in Pangbourne, that inspired Kenneth Grahame to write The Wind in the Willows, and Hayes, who likes to kayak, knows it intimately. He grew up a few minutes away, in the village of Upper Basildon, and it was there, 10 years ago, that the seeds of his book were sown, when he came home from London to live with his parents while he worked on his first graphic novel (he makes his living mainly as an illustrator). One day, he and his mother were walking together after lunch. They were, he says, having the kind of heart-to-heart that could only really happen in “the easy chaos of the countryside”, wandering towards a spot that, at the time, was the sole place he’d ever seen a kingfisher. But they never made it. Suddenly, a quad bike came chugging over the paddock, and parked itself, just a little too close for comfort, in their way.

The gambit of the landowner or his agent to the trespasser is often a facetious “are you lost?” But this guy was more direct. “You’ve no right to be here,” he said. “You are trespassing.” Hayes and his mother reflexively apologised and promptly left. Only later did he consider the astonishing effect just a few words had had on them; it was as if they were two puppets, and this stranger had simply yanked their strings. “We were doing such a lovely thing,” he says. “So to be interrupted in such a gruff manner… This invisible force came over us. Outwardly, it was just decency [on our part]. It would have been indecent for us to argue; that would have spoilt our day. But his ability to turn us on our heels through 180 degrees felt like power to me, and it’s quite rare for a white, straight, middle-class man [like me] to feel the operation of power like that. There was this feeling of shame – as though I’d done something wrong. And that didn’t square at all with my inner morality.”

After this, Hayes began strolling on private land more and more often. This wasn’t, he insists, a political act, or even just a two-fingers to those types who like to border the land they own with signs that read “Keep out”. “It was more a case of wanting to support my feeling intellectually that it’s the wall that is the crime, not the climbing of it,” he says. “I wasn’t going to stop trespassing, but I also came to realise that it’s all right for me. This is something I can do. I’ve got quite a posh voice, I’m white, I’m a big enough dude not to be physically submissive; I don’t flinch when someone comes at me. The book grew not only out of my own trespassing, but out of a desire to try and make the countryside more available to people without my privileges.” England, he would go on to discover, is still owned by a relatively small number of wealthy individuals and institutions: by the law of trespass, we are excluded from 92% of the land and 97% of its waterways. How can this be? The feeling grew in him that change must and can come. When The Book of Trespass is published later this month, he and Guy Shrubsole, the activist author of Who Owns England? (which came out last year), will together launch a new campaign, the primary focus of which will be the fact that the nation’s mental and physical health would be improved immeasurably by increased access to it. “I don’t believe property is theft,” Hayes says. “That’s a ridiculous proposition, one that ignores human nature. This isn’t the politics of envy. All we’re asking is that the lines between us and the land are made more permeable.”

This doesn’t mean, however, that political history is of no interest to him. Quite the contrary. For Hayes, Basildon Park house serves as one symbol among many of the way, down the centuries, land was effectively stolen from the people, its grand estates constructed on the back of their exploitation. Built in 1776 by John Carr of York, it was designed for Francis Sykes, a wealthy member of the East India Company, who returned home with fingers that were, as Hayes puts it, “sticky from the colonial cookie jar” (Sykes himself explained the bleeding dry of India as a basic choice of “whether it [the wealth extracted under British rule] should go into a black man’s pocket or my own”). Hayes doesn’t disapprove of the National Trust; he’s largely supportive of both it and English Heritage. But he wonders why, given the history of Basildon Park, some of its 400 acres could not be given over to, say, local allotment holders. And what about those who cannot afford its ticket prices? “I think the vision of Octavia Hill [the social reformer, and one of the three founders of the National Trust] for the working classes has gone a bit wayward. It does seem very white and middle class. It holds some of our cultural soul, and it could change the narrative if it tried.”

We walk on. The preternatural quietness holds. The atmosphere is almost muffled. The cows, it seems, can’t be bothered to low at this hour, in this heat. But just as we’re on our way back to our entry point, we meet a woman on the path. She has long, silver hair and a black spaniel, and a manner that, though polite, expresses a certain dismay at our presence. Do we work for the National Trust? No. Then why are we here? We tell her that we’re merely enjoying the park, and then we turn the tables, asking her a few questions of our own – which is how we find out that she is the wife of a National Trust warden, and that she lives in a house in the woods. Also, that she is Dutch. Do people have the right to roam in Holland? No, she says. It’s worse there than here.

But she won’t be put off so easily. We should go. Soon, this spot will be dangerous for us. In half an hour, hunters are coming to shoot deer, which must be controlled. “Well, they’re not going to shoot us, are they?” says Hayes, breaking into laughter. She doesn’t fully smile at this – though whether this is because we outnumber her and she feels vaguely intimidated, or whether because she simply believes we’re being foolhardy, I can’t quite tell. Either way, though, I’m momentarily chastened: I experience what Hayes calls, in his book, a “mind wall” – an invisible barrier rises, over which I feel I must now hop as quickly as possible to the side where I rightfully belong.

Nick Hayes

My fellow trespasser and I do most of our talking in a hay field belonging to someone known to him as Farmer Ambler, a man who eventually appears, carrying long stems of ragwort (ragwort is toxic if eaten by cows), but who speaks to us gently, and doesn’t tell us to scram.

Hayes wasn’t what you might call a child of nature. “We came up to the rec to smoke hash as teenagers,” he says. “Sometimes, a couple of woods on from where we’re sitting now, we made fires and messed around. But we weren’t there for nature; it was just free space.” After public school and Cambridge University, he did an art foundation course and eventually, after a series of jobs working in communications for charities, he began working full time on his first graphic novel, The Rime of the Modern Mariner, a take on Coleridge’s famous poem. He has since published three more.

 

The Book of Trespass is his first non-graphic book – though the text is punctuated by his marvellous illustrations, linocuts that bring to mind the Erics, Gill and Ravilious – and in it, he weaves several centuries of English history together with the stories of gypsies, witches, ramblers, migrants and campaigners, as well as his own adventures. Its sweep is vast. Among the places he trespasses, sometimes camping out overnight, are Highclere Castle in Hampshire, home of the Earl of Carnarvon and now best known as the real Downton Abbey; Belvoir Castle in Leicestershire, the seat of the dukes of Rutland; on the Sussex estate of Paul Dacre, the former editor of the Daily Mail; and on land, also in Sussex, owned by the property tycoon Nicholas van Hoogstraten. He also kayaks on the River Kennet from Aldermaston, in west Berkshire, to the point near Reading where it meets the Thames – a journey that takes him through the estate owned by Richard Benyon who, until 2019, was the richest MP in Parliament (Benyon lives in Englefield House, which dates from 1558, and which passed to his family by marriage in the 18th century; some of their money was made via the East India Company, too).

His book begins with the mass trespass of Kinder Scout in 1932, an act of civil disobedience that may be one of the most successful in British history (it led to the creation of our national parks). But then he tracks back: here is William the Conqueror, seizing England with “both his hands”; here are the Tudor barons, frantically enclosing common land in what amounted to a kind of rural gold rush; and here, much later, is the Public Order Act of 1994, a piece of legislation, triggered by a rave at Castlemorton Common in Worcestershire, that Hayes regards as “the final nail in the coffin” for freedom in the countryside, and that has a great deal in common with vagrancy acts of earlier centuries in the way that it targets particular groups of people, notably Travellers. Along the way, he also explores more nebulous territory. Why, he wonders, do we quietly accept the limits to our freedom – the signs and the barbed wire, the CCTV cameras and the walls – when we’re out and about? Where does such obedience come from? Nationalism, he believes, suits the landowning classes – Paul Dacre, who also owns a 17,000 acre grouse farm near Ullapool in Scotland, now among them – because it gives people a sense of ownership without their actually owning anything at all.

Our green and pleasant land. Except it isn’t – ours, I mean. A third of Britain is still owned by the aristocracy; 24 non-royal dukes alone own almost 4m acres of it (in 2016, 17 of these men together received farm subsidies worth £8.4m). Then there is the new aristocracy, the self-made millionaires who can afford to buy up the land: men like Richard Bannister, the retail tycoon who bought Walshaw Moor in Calderdale in 2002, and whose “management” of this rare habitat brought him into conflict with Natural England – until, that is, the agency dropped its claim, settling out of court (Bannister now owns some 16,000 acres of the valley). Finally, there are the offshore companies, which in 2015 owned 490,000 acres of England and Wales, meaning that an area larger than Greater London can legally avoid stamp duty and inheritance tax (the largest swathe of English land registered to offshore companies is the Gunnerside estate, whose 27,258 acres of North Yorkshire moorland are registered in the British Virgin Islands and which, over the last decade or so, received some €430,000 of taxpayer handouts in the form of agricultural subsidies). According to Hayes, there are “good landowners”: he would single out the Crown Estate and Sir Julian Rose, the owner of Hardwick House, also in Berkshire, whose farm is run on ecological principles and who allows a nonprofit group to run outdoor activities for children with disabilities on his land. But these people are, in his view, in the minority.

Was he, as he researched The Book of Trespass, surprised by the numbers? “No. In a way, I was almost encouraged by them. They’re so stark, they do the arguing for you. The orthodoxy is that land campaigners are very unreasonable – that they’re people who want to overturn civil society, who have this mad communist desire to overrule people’s private sanctity. But if you look at the figures, it’s clear that it’s not at all unreasonable for us to require greater access to the land.” He’s surely right about this – and in Scotland, people already have the right to roam; none of the walks in his book would count as trespass north of the border. But it also raises the question: why does it still matter so much to landowners if people cross their land? Why does it make some of them so furious?

“Because, under a certain philosophy of property, one we’ve had since the time of William the Conqueror, something is only yours if you own it exclusively; a park doesn’t really belong to you if you can’t throw someone out of it. Counter to this, of course, there is another philosophy, one that says that you don’t leave this world with anything in your pockets, and you don’t come into it with anything in them, either. At best, you borrow the land from your children; you’re a custodian. Unfortunately, these are entirely opposing definitions of property.” Chewing idly on some grass, I wonder aloud why some people need so much. Hayes looks at me as though I’m slightly stupid. “It’s not about use,” he says. “The rich man wants more. You know that.”

There are, he tells me, groups out there who are interested in the idea of reparation; who believe that if more people knew the stories behind places like Basildon Park, they would be more exercised over the issue of land rights. But he would rather concentrate, in campaigning terms, on the future rather than the past. “If I had two minutes on the Today programme, I would talk about the science involved in the relationship between nature and mental and physical wellbeing, and about a future where landowners aren’t robbed of anything at all, except the right to exclude the mass public. Douglas Caffyn [a canoe campaigner] speaks about the Magna Carta when he makes the case for access to our rivers. But we can either argue about historical precedent, or we can clear the table of that, and discuss why, say, rivers are so essential to people.”

He is not – again, he tells me – looking for a revolution. “The one thing I think is a genuine and valid concern [on the part of landowners] is vandalism and litter. But this is why we need an early and visceral relationship with nature. Children need to learn about dragonflies by having them land on their noses so that as adults they will find it abhorrent to see a Wispa Gold wrapper next to an orchid.” He and his fellow campaigners are looking to “rewrite” the Countryside Code. “It asks too little,” he says. “It shouldn’t only tell you to take your litter home; it should tell you to pick up any litter that you find. We would like it to be more moral, to incorporate how we should be together – because the way we treat nature is the way that we treat each other.”

So what happens next? “We want to engage all the people who are already sold on access – the fathers and mothers, the ramblers, climbers and kayakers – and tell them that something is happening, and get them to join us. Then we need to persuade all the people who don’t have much access to land why their lives would be improved if they did. And then, we need to lobby MPs.” His book, he believes, is the beginning of something, not the end. “We will say to people: come trespassing with us!” He grins. “Our hashtag will be #extremelynonviolentdirectaction. There’ll be animal masks and botany, picnics and poetry. But if someone asks us to leave, that’s exactly what we’ll do.”

See righttoroam.org.uk

The National Trust bylaws can be seen here

  • The Book of Trespass by Nick Hayes is published by Bloomsbury (£20). To order a copy for £17.40 go to guardianbookshop.com. Postage charges may apply.

a Landrights campaign for Britain

%d bloggers like this: