Debate: Is direct action necessary to create a better world.

Direct Action debate - Thurs 25th November 2010

Around 50 people attended the debate on direct action at Man Met Students Union on 25th November 2010.  The event was organised by Manchester Climate Action and Plane Stupid in the run up the trails of seventeen climate activists who took direct action to stop emissions at Manchester Airport last May 2010, temporarily shutting it down.
http://www.manchesterairportontrial.org/

The three panellists addressed the following issues:

– Why do people take direct action and transgress the law?
– What are the legal defences available to people in court?
– Can civil disobedience be justified and is it effective?
– What role could it play in fighting the cuts, tackling climate chaos and creating social change?

Dan Glass from the Climate 9 spoke of his work exploring the boundaries between environmental justice and the law.  He can be heard discussing the issue on Radio 4’s ‘Costing the Earth’.  Dan is also a defendant in the Ratcliffe-on-Soar trial which began on 22nd November 2010 at Nottingham Crown Court.

Kate Brandon is Strategic Engagement Worker at the Sustainable Neighbourhoods Action Group (SNAG). Part of her work involves acting as liaison between different community groups in Manchester and the City Council as part of the Sustainable Neighbourhoods Partnership. Kate raised some problems and concerns with direct action including the risk of alienating some parts of the public and the need to take people with us in climate campaigning.

Catherine from Taget Brimar talked about direct action and the law within the peace movement, and what useful comparisons could be drawn in relation to climate change.

The discussion was facilitated by Sarah Wakefield (General Secretary – University of Manchester Students Union).

Related links:

– The Drax 29 were found guilty of obstructing a railway line in June 2009.

– In September 2008 – six people were acquitted of criminal damage to Kingsnorth power station.

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