What makes extinction rebellion different?

Extinction rebellion was founded in May 2018 and they were supported with a call to action in October by over 100 academics, they believe in strictly non-violent forms of resistance such as blocking government and business buildings or infrastructure like roads and bridges inspired by figures such as Gandhi and Martin Luther King. They regularly hold workshops and teach their activists how to properly conduct themselves in a non-violent manner.

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Extinction rebellion rally in London

But how successful have their protests been in drawing the attention of both the public and the government? To do this we need to compare with other contemporary and recent protest movements. Lets first turn the clock back to 2011, in the wake of the financial crisis of 2008 and 2009 there were enormous amounts of public disenfranchisement and outrage at the mismanagement and downright illegal practices of both members of the government and various bankers who were subsequently bailed out by the government.

In response to this, movements such as Occupy Wall street in 2011 attempted to try and force the government and corporations alike to act against the growing inequality in the US with slogans such as “we are the 99%” attracting 50,000-100,000 people who marched on Wall street on May Day of 2019. They got the government’s attention but not the way they wanted, the Federal government began keeping tabs on leading figures in the movement and there are claims of thousands being arrested. However after the May day march the movement quickly lost momentum and fell into obscurity not achieving anything of note really.

In Britain there were the anti-war demonstrations in the very early 2000s against the Iraq war and the student protests of 2010 with their London march attracting up to 50,000 protesters even going as far to occupy the Millibank headquarters of the conservative party carrying out widespread vandalism in the building. This however proved to be an error as not only brought the anger of the government it also garnered condemnation from student unions that saw the action as damaging to their cause. After a year the movement seemed to just fizzle out once again not achieving anything really.

In 2015 the People’s Assembly Against Austerity was set up with rather self-explanatory goals wanting an end to austerity and to further equality. On the 16th of April 50,000 – 150,000 people gathered for one of their marches but still yet again the movement seems of fizzled out after achieving nothing and like all the aforementioned groups seemed to make a big song and dance without actually having any of their demands even considered by the government.

Today the main protest movements are extinction rebellion, the people’s vote and anti-trump protests. The people’s vote who demand for a vote on the Brexit deal mainly led by Remainers in the wake of their defeat in the Brexit referendum had gathered 312,000 to 400,000 in March 2019 and in March 2018 the organisers claimed they had gathered 700,000 people at one rally in London yet still a peoples vote isn’t even something the government is considering. Anti Trump protests have gathered whenever he has come to the UK yet they seem only to be there purely to express dislike of the American president not really having any goals themselves

Yet extinction rebellion has never held protests attracting anything near the huge numbers that some of these aforementioned groups have managed yet extinction rebellion has held talks with Michael Gove who has even acknowledged that there needs to be work done towards preventing environmental destruction.

Clare Farrell who works with extinction rebellion said “I was surprised to hear a radical reflection on our economic paradigm from Michael Gove when he talked about how our model is extractive and destructive, and that we need to move to a circular model” In less than a year this movement has made more progress than any of its predecessors and contemporaries with far less numbers. So why is this?

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Photo taken in parliament square of environmental activists

Extinction rebellion’s main demands are total transparency from the government with regards to climate change and the ecological crisis, the government must enact legally binding policy to reduce carbon emissions by 2025 and the establishment of a citizens’ assembly to oversee the changes. The movement operates internationally and has launched protests not just all over Britain but in places like Germany and Australia too.

Dozens of members of extinction rebellion have been arrested since the movement’s inception and on the 15th of April they vandalised and glued themselves to the Shell HQ and on the 25th of the same month they blocked the London stock exchange. They’ve vowed to try and shutdown Heathrow airport in June and July of 2019 with the use of drones.

On paper the numbers would have us believe that any one of these movements should’ve been more successful yet they are not even close. As I see it what extinction rebellion lacks in manpower they more than make up for with their strategy despite Adam Boulton’s assertion that extinction rebellion were “incompetent, middle class, self-indulgent people” that might have some merit regarding individuals however their overall actions and strategy would seem to indicate the opposite.

Extinction rebellion has clear goals and a much more effective strategy of protest than its predecessors. While other movements have been looking merely to gather as many people as possible for some kind of march, extinction rebellion has engaged in active disruption of the system.

By blocking roads, bridges and important buildings they are essentially forcing the government to do something about them otherwise they will continue to be damaged by the movement’s activities but because they engage in largely legal non-violent methods of protest the government cannot just arrest them nor ban them as an organisation leaving them in a precarious position.

Essentially they cannot be ignored or met with condemnation because they are not engaging in large scale damage of property or physically harming anyone while still causing disruptions that though may seem insignificant actually effects the economy and if there is one thing that the government wants secure above everything it is the economy as this helps decide elections.

To summarise extinction rebellion is a movement that is far ahead of any of its contemporaries in both its determination and understanding of how to make the government try and keep you happy and if they stay out of legal trouble and keep applying pressure through disrupting the system they could be well on their way to having at least one of their demands accepted by the government which is more than can be said about almost every other protest movement in the last decade and even more importantly how they will influence future protest movements to come might very well change politics forever.

 

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The rise in knife crime continues

The surge in knife crime in London continues with five stabbings all resulting in deaths already this week.

Malcolm Mide-Madariola, 17 died in hospital after being brutally stabbed in Balham Hill, near to Clapham South underground station on the afternoon of Friday, 2 November.

Local community and fellow students from St Francis Xavier have build a shrine outside Clapham South to pay their respects to Malcom.

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Ayodeji Habeeb Azeez, 22, was stabbed to death on Sunday, 4th November in Anerely, Samos Road, SE20.

On Monday, 5th November John Ogunjobi, a 16 year old was stabbed at Greenleaf Close, Tulse Hill, sadly despite the efforts of paramedics he was pronounced dead at the scene.

According to research done by the Office for National Statistics between the beginning of this year to June 2018 there has been 39,332 knife related crimes, which is currently the highest on record. In the same duration of time there was a rise in overall violence by 19%

A increasingly large proportion of these murder victims and perpetrators are teenagers, the question that is being asked by everyone is how can we contain the epidemic in youth violence and prevent it from continuing to spiral out of control.

Map that shows increase in knife crime in London by borough from Parliament

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The Royal London Hospital has recently published research that states that between 2004-2014 the average age of stabbing victims has fallen from late 20s to 18 followed with an increase in teenage victims. The research also says that after school hours are most dangerous

We spoke with Specialist Firearms Instructor Andy Hopton on what is being done to try and tackle the rise in violent crimes and knife violence in particular.

Metropolitan Police Constable chief Cressida Dick today defended the Met’s tactics in tackling knife crime in London as she pledged to “relentlessly” target 190 gangs fueling the violent crime wave. She also said the police task force have methods to combat the rise in knife crime.

“We have increased the use of stop and search, acting on intelligence to prevent violence before it has taken place, including in the boroughs where we have seen the recent tragic murders. This week we have redeployed additional officers in south London who the public will see out and about with local officers.”

 

 

 

Sadiq Khan to be Labour’s candidate for 2020 Mayor

Sadiq Khan will probably become Labour’s 2020 election candidate for London thanks to the backing from the powerful Trade Union GMB that was given by them today on twitter.

The Constituency Labour Parties in London amongst other affiliated organisations and unions have been voting on whether Khan should be automatically reselected or to hold an open selection process. The backing from the GMB should get him passed the 50% threshold though a deadline will be reached on September 30th.

The Mayor had previously backed GMB during March in their ‘making it’ campaign to support investment in the manufacturing sector which according to a GMB analysis employs 110,000 workers in the capital and boosts the economy by £8.5 billion a year.

Warren Kenny, GMB’s regional secretary told the Huffington post “Two years ago Londoners elected Sadiq Khan as London mayor by a thumping margin in the face of a nasty and divisive campaign from the Tories.”

“Since he came to office our mayor has consistently championed people living and working in London. We are proud to be giving GMB’s firm backing to Sadiq Khan to carry on the job of making London a fairer and more equal city.”

Sadiq Khan came into office in 2016 with a strong majority 44.2% and since the recent local elections London has become almost entirely Labour controlled save for a few boroughs like Barnet.

 

Fast food advertisement could be banned on London Transport

Sadiq Khan has made a radical new proposal to ban all fast food advertisement on TFL

Today the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan announced a proposal to  ban all junk food advertisement, the first ban of its kind, on the TFL estate and a proposal that would prevent fast food places from being near schools.

Sadiq Khan, said: “Child obesity in London is a ticking timebomb and I am determined to act. If we don’t take bold steps against it we are not doing right by our young people as well as placing a huge strain on our already pressurised health service in years to come.”IMG-20180511-WA0007

The mayor is very concerned with the obesity problem in London,  40% of children aged 10-11 are obese which makes London one of the child obesity capitals of Europe. What is also concerning for him is that this issue disproportionally affects more deprived areas.

Young people in Barking and Dagenham are twice as likely to be overweight than children from Richmond. He believes that the government needs to take a more active role in preventing child obesity from becoming out of control.

He is consulting people on banning the advertisement of foods and drinks that are high in sugar, fat and salt. He hopes that by 2028 significant progress will be made towards healthier living for both adults and children.

Chief Medical Officer, Professor Dame Sally Davies, said: “The evidence is clear that although it is not a silver bullet, restricting the amount of junk food adverts children are exposed to will help reduce obesity.

The National Centre for Social Research and Cancer Research UK did a study that showed that advertisements of junk food, especially when they are aimed at children, put extra pressure on families to buy unhealthy food when choosing what to eat

On top of this he has also proposed a ban on hot food takeaways being within 400 metres of schools as well as the creation of a child obesity task force appointing a chair and vice chair to organise the initiative.

Two boys injured from Shotgun Pellets in Wealdstone High street

Two boys and possibly three were injured in Harrow after a shotgun shooting

On Sunday May 6th at 13:15 the police were called to the Wealdstone High Street after reports of a person who had been shot.

A 15 year old  boy was found with head injuries caused by shotgun pellets, the London Ambulance service took the 15 year old to a central London hospital where his condition was deemed not life-threatening; he is currently still being kept in the hospital.

Detective Chief Superintendent Simon Rose of Harrow Borough Commander said: “It would appear that the first victim was approached by two male suspects, one in possession of a shotgun – and shots were fired injuring him and an entirely innocent member of the public.”imgID156748574_jpg_gallery

Around four minutes later the LAS informed the police that there were reports of a second injured boy at a different point on the high street.

The thirteen year old (who was originally believed to be 12) had a shotgun pellet wound to the head, he was then taken to a West London hospital and his injuries were also deemed not life-threatening and has since been discharged.

The thirteen year old is being treated as an innocent bystander and police believe that he was hit by pellets from the shooting minutes earlier.

The police also believe there could be a third victim who may have been at the scene with the 15 year old, this victim could have sustained an arm injury and wandered off before the first arrival of emergency services.

The police arrested a 39 year old man on the evening of May 6th in connection with the incident, he was subsequently released. Trident and Area Crime Command are continuing their investigation and the enquiries are on-going.

Detective Chief Superintendent Rose also said “I want to assure the communities of Harrow and the wider public we are doing everything we can to catch the suspects responsible. Violent crime has no place on our streets. Officers from Trident are investigating and we are supporting them locally.115772432_png_gallery

Anyone with information that may assist police is asked to call Trident officers via 101 quoting reference 3563/6May or tweet @MetCC or contact Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

Labour and Tories left in stalemate after local election

Disappointing election results for Labour gives the Tories new found confidence but still no clear advantage

Everyone in London was expecting a “red wave” from Corbyn’s momentum campaign, whether Labour had become complacent after the gains in 2017 or their message just didn’t stick is not certain.

Though we can say that the Conservative party and the Labour party have once again entered a stalemate in the UK political scene.

They roughly share 35% each and the losses in the capital have been offset by gains elsewhere in the country as many predicted.

The Tories have retaken the ball so to speak, this was partly expected as they were predicted to have an increase nationally but decrease in London.

However the problem was that the Tory losses in London were predominantly from the Liberal Democrats who have recently begun to recover from the aftermath of Clegg’s leadership.toriesoutprotest

The Greens have made some local gains too though not particularly significant, mainly capitalising on local issues such as the Central hill regeneration

Labour despite consolidating its 2017 gains and taking more council seats from the Tories, have failed to take their target boroughs but did gain a majority in Tower Hamlets.

A few main factors contributed to Labour’s failure such as the anti-Semitism which was particularly prominent in Barnet which has the largest Jewish community in London.

However it is important to note that Labour is still on the rise in London and these Tory strongholds in the centre. Labour was 8 seats away from gaining a majority in the Wandsworth seat while in 2014 it would have taken 15.key_manifesto18

The irony is that, the party that was mostly ignored from the conversation in London has inflicted the most damage on the Tories in the city, gaining control over Kingston and Richmond while holding Sutton, which they were expected to lose because of the bin fiasco.

The Liberal Democrat gains are probably due to the Tory abandonment of Europe and Corbyn failing to appeal to more moderate and middle class areas.

In many ways the Lib Dem party is the greatest winner out of the whole local election.

Last nights results for London

Surprise Lib Dem victory in Richmond signals return to mainstream politics

The Tories did far better than expected in London last night or rather they did far less worse than people had imagined. Overnight there has been a consolidation of Labour holdings in London, however so far they have made no gains in the city.

The Tories kept Westminister and Wandsworth though it was unlikely they would lose these constituencies anyway, though having said that in Wandsworth it was quite close, Labour received 26 seats which is higher than the 19 seats they got in 2014, likewise in Westminster Labour gained three seats more than last year, giving them a total of 19.

However the Tories have made one gain so far in London, with the Tories gaining a clear majority in Barnet, a previously contested constituency. Labour went from 30 seats to 25 and the Tories now have 38.

This is almost certainly due to the overshadowing “Anti-Semitism” row in the Labour party, which has caused some voters to switch to conservative in order to punish Labour as Barnet as it has the highest number of Jews of any borough in London.

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One major surprise however has been the return of the Liberal Democrats with Richmond being taken by them with a huge swing with all 39 Conservative seats being swapped with the Liberal Democrats. This is likely because of the very strong remain vote in Richmond.

Lib Dem Candidate for Bishop’s ward in Lambeth, Adrain Hyrylainen- Trett spoke to our Lambeth Correspondent, Nez Williams about the result in Richmond.

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Trash talk in Ealing

Could issues with rubbish endanger Labour’s gains in the local elections

Back in 2016 the Ealing council (like many other councils in London) instituted wheelie bins for the borough and switched to an alternate/fortnightly collection of rubbish.

According to Ealing’s council website the reasoning was “Wheelie bins make it easier to recycle and stop foxes and rats ripping open sacks. This will help to keep our streets cleaner”.

Now back in 2015 this caused quite a big controversy because a petition was made to try and stop this from happening, it gained some 3015 signatures but the policy was implemented anyway.

Another point of contention was that (like other boroughs where this policy has been implemented) the council did not consult locals properly before enacting this decision. Also just like everywhere else this policy was implemented, fly tipping became noticeably more common.

There are however exceptions to this policy as if you live in a property with a front boundary or if your household is deemed unsuitable for wheelie bins then you have an option to opt out in favour of “black sacks”.

Despite these complaints in 2017 Ealing predominantly voted for Labour. For the 2018 elections in London, bins are once again at the forefront of political debate in London’s local administrations, the disastrous outsourcing policies at Sutton could cause the Lib Dem stronghold to be ousted.

One party taking advantage of the controversy in Ealing is the Lib Dems and like many local Tory parties in London, bins have become a selling point for their manifesto. They were strongly against the 2016 change citing that it would cost the tax payer some £3 million and it has not made the streets cleaner by most accounts.

One of Labour’s councillors, Bassam Mahfouz admitted there was a flaw to the policy “Whilst the Tories and Lib Dems in government slashed Ealing Council’s budget by almost 60%, Labour has continued to increase recycling rates”.

A lot of locals are worried that the expense will outweigh the benefit, it could be possible that this might cause Labour some setbacks in the upcoming local elections.

Tories facing collapse in London

The Conservatives will probably dodge “utter disaster” despite Labour’s swing.

As of the 26th April, the voting intentions for London are 29% Conservative, 51% Labour and 11% Liberal Democrat, though Labour will be making major gains according to most analysts there will be a few boroughs that will be tough for Labour to break through.

Westminster and Wandsworth which have been Conservative strongholds for decades, if the current trend is correct then there would be a modest swing of about 7 points towards Labour.

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This was less than what was originally expected but still very bitter loss for the Conservatives, however considering the trend of a national increase in Conservative support then it is possible that the losses they make in London will be made up for in gains elsewhere.

The probability of a Labour victory in Westminster and Wandsworth are low but it is more of a possibility now as London has been moving towards labour for a while now.

Philip Cowley, a political scientist at the Queen Mary university, said “A Tory victory parade in Wandsworth and Westminster, should they manage to hold them, will not be a sign of success but merely the avoidance of utter disaster.”

However, there are other boroughs in London that have also become battle grounds. Barnet, Sutton and Camden have had problems with management of waste.

Labour in Camden was accused of breaking one of its manifesto pledges to keep up with the weekly rubbish collection but Labour made it fortnightly, the pledge to keep a weekly rubbish collection has become a major selling point for the local conservative manifestos.

Sutton had a particularly bad incident where rubbish wasn’t collected for 6-8 weeks, which ended up just piling up on locals’ streets, this could cause a Lib Dem stronghold to switch to the Tories, another cause for a swing towards Tory in Sutton is that Sutton voted mostly leave and leave voters will generally lean towards the Conservatives.

According to Lord Ashcroft polls people are most concerned about local health services (33%); Housing (30%), Crime (29%), Brexit (25%) and local council tax (23%). Brexit is particularly controversial in London because most voted remain and many blame the Tory government for the referendum and its result leading them to either vote Lib Dem or Labour.

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Housing is another issue that is contentious because the supply of housing has failed to meet its demand causing prices to rise, according to an LSE paper on the subject “The UK housing system over-responds to economic downturns so housing investment is cut back rapidly, while it under-responds to increasing demand”. This means the housing supply simply doesn’t expand sufficiently causing high rents and prices and it is not simply a matter of producing more houses.

Council tax will be another issue that will be decisive as austerity cuts have put local government at “breaking point” according to the Chief Executive of the Local Government Information Unit (LGIU), Jonathan Carr-West. Not just that but 94% of council leaders say they intend to increase council tax, this could be very damaging for the current government and local government in general.

Helicopter flying Drug Barons arrested

Three drug dealers jailed for using a helicopter to transport Class A drugs to Britain.

On the 26th April, 37 year old Dean Francis from Lewisham was sentenced at Southwark Crown Court, he was charged with conspiracy to supply Class A drugs and pleaded guilty to the offence back in March. He had two other accomplices who in total have been sentenced to 25 years in jail.

On the 23rd April in the same court 50 year old Belgian Federic Fagnoul pleaded guilty to conspiracy to import Class A drugs and was sentenced to 17 and a half years in prison. 36 year old John Bolton of Tooting was sentenced to 7 and a half years in prison.

The gang used a helicopter in order to smuggle £7 million worth of drugs into Britain, Federic established this helicopter route in June 2017, the Police believe he was transporting something around 50kg of cocaine on each trip.

The Metropolitan Police have revealed that the helicopter landed at helipads on two hotels in Kent, the drugs were then unloaded from the helicopters and distributed via car to dealers across the UK.

On the 6th September 2017, police stopped a Nissan Qashqai in Bromley, it was driven by Bolter and the police found a hidden compartment in the car’s boot which contained 20kg of cocaine. It was seized along with a highly encrypted phone.

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Fagnoul had planned his flight 10 minutes before flying from Calais to Lydd Airport in Kent, his cover story was that he was night fishing. On the 12th September 2017 the police saw Fagnoul unload bags from the helicopter into a hotel room.

The Police seized the helicopter on the same day. The Police then searched the helicopter and found an intricate hide under the seats in the main body of the aircraft.

Bolter was charged with intent to supply in November to which he pleaded guilty, he was charged again with conspiracy to supply in March where he again pleaded guilty.

Francis and Federic were arrested on 4th October 2017 after they were seen meeting in a hotel in Kent and then collecting drugs on the 5th. Francis was charged with conspiracy to supply and pleaded guilty in March. The National Crime Agency assisted the police in their investigation

Detective Chief Superintendent Mick Gallagher, head of the Met’s Organised Crime Command, said: “This was an outstanding investigation by the Organised Crime Command combating a drug-dealing network that spread from Europe to the UK.”