🌍 If you still believe in homemade placard waving and the power of petition signatures

I would love to have a photo album dedicated to the homemade placards that I have either made myself or with my family and friends, and back in the day with Greenpeace. Banners, such as those above we made for Belgium action. Quite proud of this one – we hung a banner between two very tall chimneys in a force eight gail and blizzard while campaigning against Acid Rain.

The past few years

Maja and I met on Valentine’s Day 2017 and it’s been an amazing few years when it comes to the state of the planet and finding a significant part for our new family to play in fixing it. Coming from a long background in environmental protest I was not sure I still believed in its effectiveness. But protest we did:

  • 2017 attended talks in Cambridge from activists and NGOs
  • 2018 Cambridge Rise For Climate protest, further protests in Cambridge including supporting Friday For Future
  • Extinction Rebellion protest London bridges then Parliament Square
  • Back to protesting in Cambridge with young people, school strikers inspired by Greta Thunberg
  • Newmarket protest with Christian Aid against HSBC
  • Relocation to Southend back to several Protests in London with long time local campaigner and friend Jon Fuller and his Tell The Truth campaign against mainstream press
  • Helped Extinction Rebellion take 5 bridges in their first mass demonstration in London in July 2019 
  • Southend XR civic centre protest
  • Becoming a grandpa 😳 (not really relevant but Wow!) attended Southend Borough Council climate emergency declaration meeting with my stepdaughter Gwenny, 9 years old back then, who was the only child in attendance which is a shame as it is her generation who will suffer the consequences of our inaction
  • The theme continues…………..

Except for having to introduce covid social distancing madness the song remains the same. It seemed to us that the post covid return to protest looked awfully like the business as usual mindset that we were accusing much of the rest of society, the government and the capitalist elite of at FLOP 26 in Glasgow.

Such gatherings can be more party rather than protest, celebration rather than condemnation. A moment of defiance. However, some can be a little harsher. I still have back problems today from a member of the special patrol group, AKA police heavyweight brigade, who tried to pick me up by the neck during a sit down blocking of traffic at the Stop the Canadian Seal Hunt rally in Trafalgar Square back in the early 80s. That was back when a road ran straight through it. He was a big lad and very strong. As my arms were locked to my fellow protesters sitting on the road at the time he found it difficult at first but seemed to be determined to get me on my feet by putting his arm around my neck and lifting me even if that meant ripping my head off in the process.

XR and the theory of percentages

It doesn’t seem like Extinction Rebellion (XR) are getting the numbers they need to prove the 3.5% rule which posits that no government can stand up to that share of the population mobilising against it. The movement is now also fractured into just Stop Oil, Insulate Britain, etc., as this is what happens with organic and inspirational organisations. In my experience, movements always break into smaller offshoots and new organisations spring from a handful of people that get together to start an org and do things it their own particular way. Which turns out to be the same way as everyone else is doing it. Imagine if there was only one organisation that represented everyone that believes in environmental and social justice.

Even if we managed to get ten million people on a march through Parliament Square would it be enough? As long as they know you will be back at work on Monday morning feeling elated, which is all about brain chemistry not a gauge of your political influence. Back to your day-to-day: burning the home fires, sitting in traffic jams, kids in the back breathing the car fumes in, breathing them out.

The Big One

The last demonstration we attended as a family was the BIG ONE on Earth Day 2023. Not sure why they decided to call it that because you are setting the bar high. I don’t know what the attendance was and if its organisers thought it was big enough. What I wonder will they call the next demonstration The Bigger One?

Photo taken by our Gwenny
Petitioning Parliament

I have decided to take it straight from the horses mouth with an explanation on the petition process from the government website:

So you have managed to get your 100,000 signatures and are now anxious to hear the passionate debate following a question in Parliament. Something like the photo below perhaps.🤔

Source Sky News

More likely, however, the house would probably look more like the other photo below with MPs turning up early for the next debate and those MPs still asleep from the last.

Source Sky News

So we are feeling a little unsure whether protesting and petition signatures are doing anything at all. What do you think? Let us know in the comment below or on social media. Nevertheless, we will continue to let you know about the protests and petitions in the pipeline so you can make your own decisions.

More to follow 📜📜📜

1 thought on “🌍 If you still believe in homemade placard waving and the power of petition signatures”

  1. Another thought-provoking post!
    I spent a long time wondering what it would take for the ‘mass awakening’ we thought we were on the cusp of all those years ago. As a young man, it was all pretty black and white for me – bad stuff happening – let people see it – they’ll understand it – it’ll be stopped! It was like ‘logic will prevail.’
    It didn’t.
    But it seems to me now that human beings and societies aren’t such simple machines as I’d hoped! I was looking for a convergent solution in a divergent social world. So, my belief is that all the diverse forms of protest and social action have the capacity to effect change – bit by bit, drop by drop. A part of Dirk Gently’s fundamental interconnectedness of all things! Do little things – do big things – it all makes a difference. Just do something!

    • I often sign and share petitions – not because I think it’s a magic bullet but because it contributes to raising awareness. It says we’re still here. We’re watching you. Not to protest, even in this simple (and let’s be honest, effortless) way feels to me like collusion – If I say nothing, I’m on their side. The forces of greed and destruction like to hide in the shadows. They are watching these things – if we grow in number, it might affect their profit margins. Even our greatest enemies fear the winds of change – that’s why they’re trying to be ever more repressive.

    • I see the logic of the 3.5% thing – but I think it’s probably more cumulative. The cumulative pressure of demos, boycotts, petitions, even letters to The Times. Drips on the stone. I absolutely agree with the social bonding part of demonstrations – the reassurance that we are not alone, I think I used to need that – but I already know I’m not alone in my concerns. That said, the next big demo may be irresistible!

    • To be honest, it’s quite a while since I’ve been to a demo. Maybe it is the ‘got that T-shirt already’ thing but It’s also the targeting (or lack of it) that puts me off now. I get the whole XR/Insulate idea about creating a stir in any way you can to get the publicity but if I’m going to superglue myself to anything it’ll be the oil execs house, office, or limo – not the road. And as for the tin of soup thrown at a van Gogh – I could think of much better targets!

    • My direct action is a lot less exciting than it used to be. I clean my local beach every day while I’m walking the dog. I used to get annoyed about the litter in the park and on the beach – it made me sad and angry that a beautiful space was made more ugly, that a wildlife habitat was being violated. I realised too that the absence of litter made me happy – so I just started picking it up – a bit every day. And I know a lot of people do this. It’s not on ‘News at Ten’ but it makes a difference. During the two years of the pandemic, disposable face masks were an ever-present threat to wildlife. It was heart-breaking to find a drowned guillemot on the beach – tangled up in a mask that it couldn’t escape from. We collected at least 10 masks a week whilst walking the dog – over two years of pandemic, that’s more than a thousand.

    Anyway, enough of my rambling thoughts! See what you’ve done – making me think!
    Keep the blog going guys x

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