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Letters: It’s time for more radical climate action—not less

A prominent climate campaigner has argued for the movement to adopt a ‘moderate flank’ strategy and ditch radical tactics
Issue 2816
Just Stop Oil activists clime on top of an oil tankerin an example of radical climate action

We need more radical climate action such as Just Stop Oil (Picture: Guy Smallman)

I read with dismay Rupert Read’s defeatist “moderate-flank strategy” reply to a recent Guardian article by John Harris backing radical mass climate action.

Read is an academic and prominent member of the Green Party. I last heard him speak at Green Party conference, a few weeks after Extinction Rebellion’s April 2019 uprising.

“XR achieved in a fortnight what we couldn’t achieve in 45 years,” he said, thanks to mass law-breaking and non-violent direct action.

Now he thinks the scale of the right-wing backlash makes the “radical flank” around XR, Just Stop Oil and the Youth Strikers unviable. He wants to replace that movement with re-wilding organisations, advertising execs and lawyers’ groups.

Does Read really think this force—well-meaning as I’m sure their members are—capable of resisting the onslaught of right-wing politicians and their fossil fuel industry friends? Was he out of the country when over 60 buildings burned down in Britain’s 40 degree heatwave?

Has he tuned out from the battle between Tory leadership finalists Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak over who can renege first on climate commitments? Has he not noticed Keir Starmer’s tough-action promise against climate protesters?

We need to “meet people where they are” and bring them with us, says Read. True. And people are increasingly on picket lines striking against contemptible pay offers, job cuts and attacks on safety, or offering solidarity.

Let’s send the hat round the climate movement for the RMT union strike fund. Because those who oppress us in our workplaces are killing our planet.

I don’t want less radical action. I want more and bigger. I want to see striking rail workers on the next blockade with a huge banner demanding free public transport.

That is how we build a movement capable of saving our skins.

Kim Hunter, Scarborough


No tears for Trimble

The ruling class look after their own in death as well as life.

David Trimble, the former first minister of Northern Ireland and leader of the Ulster Unionist Party, died last week. Eulogies from the great and good sang his praises, largely because of his role in the Good Friday Agreement.

He was rewarded in life by his elevation to the House of Lords where he sat on the Tory benches. Derry socialist and journalist Eamonn McCann described his appointment as like “winning the Lotto without buying a ticket”.

In his death Trimble’s less savoury past is being played down. He was a proud Orangeman. He famously skipped down the Garvaghy Road in Portadown wearing his sash, hand in hand with Ian Paisley.

They led a triumphalist Orange march through a Nationalist enclave while the locals were barricaded in their houses by the security forces.

As recently as last year he railed against the Northern Ireland Brexit Protocol, which establishes a “border” in the Irish Sea, as a “dilution of British sovereignty”. The irony of this must have been lost on him.

The alternative to this fudge would have been a hard border in the land of Ireland and an inevitable return to the conflict he was supposedly instrumental in stopping. In the end his Unionism trumped everything else.

Shaun Doherty, Oxford


Sam Tarry and Starmer —a cautionary tale

It’s outrageous that Keir Starmer sacked Sam Tarry as shadow transport minister last week. Tarry’s crime was not only to appear on a picket line but to say workers should get pay rises in line with inflation.

But Tarry still shied away from taking on Starmer directly. He spoke of the “privilege” of serving on Starmer’s front bench for two years.

Tarry was one of those few Socialist Campaign Group (SCG) MPs who didn’t even sign their statement opposing Jeremy Corbyn’s suspension from Labour. He became a shadow minister shortly after.

He didn’t withdraw his name from the Stop the War statement on the war in Ukraine, as other SCG MPs did. But that’s because he never signed it at all.

I’m not trying to get personal. It’s a Labour left strategy I’m criticising—that if you accommodate to the right, you might get to stay. We can see how that ends.

Chloe Guest, east London


Say ‘ta-ta’ to partnership with bosses

With thousands of jobs at threat at Tata Steel, the Community union last week “stepped up” its campaign by… writing a letter to the Tories. Tata steel bosses say that, unless the government gives them £1.5 billion, they’ll close their plant at Port Talbot, where 4,000 people work.

Community’s response? Plead with the Tories to give the bosses what they want.  It took out all the adverts on the right wing blog Conservative Home. And it wrote a mildly sarcastic letter addressed to Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss.

“We get that the Conservative Party have got a lot going on at the moment,” it said. “If Britain is going to compete on the world stage over the years ahead, then we must also invest in our steel industry.”

For years, leaders of Community have sought partnership with Tata bosses. They sell pay, pensions and conditions for promises to save some jobs.

And where does it lead? Bosses threatening sackings anyway—and the union writing begging letters to the Tories.

Alana Bates, Carlisle


What comes after Labour?

You say socialists should leave Labour. Leave and join what? What about the 100,000 who have already left?

Peter Dwyer, on Twitter


I’m with my workmates

As an ex CWU union BT engineer, I wish them all the very best in their strike. I live in Italy now, but if I was in Britain I would come and join them on the picket line.

Good luck comrades in the fight against the Tories.

James Ryan, on Facebook


More support for rail strike

I’m 100 percent with the strikers for fair pay and real, cost of living crisis wages. The whole country is being wrecked by Conservatives only in it for themselves and their greedy self serving cronies.

Muna Johnstone, on Twitter

  • I stand in solidarity with the workers and wish them every success

Paddy Grenham, on Twitter


We need more unity

Unions need to coordinate themselves and strike together. That’s the only way we are going to change anything. Oh—and get rid of Keir Starmer.

Andrea Ford, on Facebook


NHS workers join the fight

I joined the health workers’ march in central London last week.It’s time for all workers to fight for our rights.

Siobhan, on Twitter

  • Too right. Health workers all risked their own lives during Covid to make sure we survived.  Where would we be without doctors, nurses and the support staff?

Lord Melbury, on Twitter

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