UK Newsletter #6: Vote for the Planet!

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Dear rebels,

There’s no question: these are pivotal times.

With the election at our doorsteps and the crisis already engulfing our homes, we’ll need deep resilience to face the challenges that lie ahead.

But tomorow is the chance for a significant change. It’s your climate – your vote – your choice.

Truly bee-yond politics: rebels were bringing the truth to all major parties’ ‘battle-buses’

Today we bring you news from around the UK. Focusing, of course, on the details of the General Election, accompanied by a healthy dose of inspiring stories, such as the bravery of the XR Hunger Strikers who are now going into their third week with nothing but water and vitamins. Also, we have some words from Madrid about the many marvellous actions happening there, and a wonderful piece from XR Muslims in London.

In XR Content you’ll find fresh perspectives on our current position and our possible next steps – plus a brilliant re-working of a traditional Christmas carol.

Also, we have the return of History Corner, which looks at a specific moment in time when activism brought forth tangible, positive change. It’s worth remembering that the world has been shaped by activism for centuries, and that what we’re doing now will one day be a source of interpretation and inspiration for those who will come next.

Finally, some words on the election: XR is beyond politics. Our values transcend borders, classes and political leanings. We believe there are more directions than simply left or right. We believe in going forward, toward a future for our children and all other living things.

And we are not attached to outcome. Whatever government comes out of tomorrow, it will change no part of our mission. Whether the news is good or bad, it will do nothing to change our fundamental motivation, nor our compassionate determination.

No matter who claims to rule it – until our world is safe, we’re not going anywhere.

If you’d like to help, please check out our guide and learn more about XR.

To connect to rebels in your local area, get in touch with your nearest XR group. If there’s no active group near you, you can start your own!

If you’d like to see previous newsletter issues, you can find them here.

As we enter this crucial phase in human history, our Rebellion will need money to make sure our message is heard. Anything you can give is appreciated.

Contents

  • Announcements
  • Stories of the Week
  • XR Content
  • Humans of XR

Announcements

Nearing the 12th day of crisis 

With voters heading to the polls in two days, we need to remind everyone that this is a climate election. In the midst of a climate and ecological emergency, this is one of the last elections that can still offer us a turning point. Vote for the planet.

Before you go out and vote, there is still time to:

  1. Lobby your candidates for our 3 Demands Bill.
  2. Get those final truth telling flyers out
  3. Support Santa on the 11th day of crisis
  1. Lobby your candidates for a climate bill

We need to use this election to get as many cross party MPs as possible to support the Climate and Ecological Emergency Bill. The Bill contains XR’s three demands (declaration, emission target and national citizens’ assembly) and our goal is to get it introduced in the new Parliament.

If you’re willing to contact your local constituency candidates asking them to support XR’s 3 Demands Bill, contact us for an information package .

  1. Compile a flyer comparing your candidates’ records on the climate

Use this Tell Voters The Truth Flyer Toolkit to develop resources and flyers, detailing neutral comparative analysis of local candidates and their records on climate issues.

For candidates with political experience, you might highlight voting records or dodgy campaign donors. For candidates without political experience, you might highlight their career backgrounds and what they have done to address the Climate Emergency. 

The goal of these flyers is NOT to endorse any candidate or party, but to tell voters the truth about local candidates and their records on climate issues. 

  1. Support Santa on the 11th day of crisis

Santa is coming to town! Join him at Parliament Square (or in Edinburgh, Belfast or Cardiff) as a rebel helper to let political leaders know if they have been naughty or nice. Join the Telegram broadcast channel to find out more.

Need a recap of why this election is so important? Read a piece on why this election matters here and check the score of the parties’ manifestos for their response to the climate and ecological emergency.

Actions Strategy Exploration Process

This month, the UK Actions Circle is undertaking an Action Strategy Exploration process to help determine our action timeline for the first half of 2020.

We’re investing as much time and energy as possible to make sure that our strategy emerges from a broad diversity of voices from across the movement.

This process will help Actions Circle determine its own specific strategic and tactical decisions, within the framework of the broader XR UK strategy.

Major UK working groups have been invited to do some total blank canvas thinking and feed back their ideas to Actions Circle on the 9 – 10 December. Alongside this, a strategy input form will go out to gather input from local groups. Regional Action Planners have already been gathering ideas through a creative workshop on strategy and tactics.

We’re aware that this is a tight turnaround, but we are determined to communicate a core timeline to the movement before the Christmas period.

You can read the full statement from Actions Circle here.

IMPORTANT: Legal notice for October Rebellion Arrestees ⚡

Following legal action from Extinction Rebellion, the Metropolitan Police have now accepted that Section 14 arrests on both weeks of the October Rebellion were unlawful.

If you were arrested for breach of a Section 14 during the October Rebellion please carefully read this briefing. It sets out the next steps available to you including guidance on how you might bring a claim for compensation against the Met.

Need help covering your legal costs?

Thanks to your amazing generosity we have together raised over £400,000 in our legal crowdfunder. If you need financial help following your prosecution, find out how to apply here.

XR Lates calling for artists and performers

We are hosting an interactive and immersive late night underground playground celebrating and showcasing the unstoppable creative responses to the Emergency. 

This will be an opportunity for the public to get involved, create and discover first hand our booming community behind the disruptive actions that draw attention to the climate and ecological emergency and how artists and rebels are responding to our unprecedented times. 

We’re programming! Are you a rebellious performer, musician, band, DJ, clown, cabaret act, speaker, poet, artist? Do you have an act, a film, an installation, a workshop, some XR art or creative action? Email a short description of what you’d like to bring to xrvaults@outlook.com by midday Tuesday 7th January

An Eco-spiritual basis to rebelling?

Want to explore a spiritual basis for XR and its implications? Join this course next May to explore the orientations of truth telling nonviolent movements of our times.

Stories of the week

“What will it take to make our leaders listen?”: Update from the UK hunger strikers

Hunger Striker Julian, Day 21

Three weeks after the launch of the global hunger strike on 18th November, three brave – though increasingly frail – rebels are still holding on outside political party headquarters in cold, damp, London. 

Living on warm water and vitamins alone, the determination of hunger strikers Julian, Marko and Peter is sobering: they will not stop until party political leaders come to meet them and discuss their support for theThree Demands Bill.  

Peter and Marko are determined to continue until the general election.

Hunger strikers Marko and Peter outside the Conservative Party HQ

Following meetings with the leader of Plaid Cymru and brief outdoor meetings with the deputy leaders of the Liberal Democrats and Labour party in week two, on 2nd December, the Green Party invited two hunger strikers to their party office.

An hour-long meeting took place with deputy leader Amelia Womack, Chief Executive Mary Clegg, and Convener of the Climate Change Policy Working Group David Flint. This was too short to commit to the Three Demands Bill, but long enough to agree to further discussions.

Hunger strikers Petra and Larch in Green Party office, discussing support for the Three Demands Bill

In weeks 2 and 3, the hunger strikers had other high-profile visitors, including journalist George Monbiot on 29th November, who commented ‘I’m really honoured to meet these amazing guys… all of them doing fantastic work for our life support systems and for everyone else on Earth’. 

On 3rd December, the hunger strikers were visited by TV presenter and naturalist Chris Packham who, like Monbiot, could hardly contain his admiration, referring to the hunger strike as an ‘enormous and heroic endeavour’. 

And on 9th December, actor and environmental campaigner Lily Cole was the latest celebrity to come and meet the hunger strikers.

But still, as we write on day 22, there has been no word from the Conservative leadership nor from the Brexit Party.  A hand-delivered request to the PM by Marko and Peter, inviting him to meet them has been ignored.

Earlier, we met up with Julian, and he had this to say: ‘What does it take to have a conversation about the climate emergency? What will it take to make our leaders listen?’ 

He urged that we show our support by writing to political party leaders and candidates asking them to meet with the hunger strikers and support the Three Demands Bill so they can stop their hunger strike. 

You can support the hunger strikers by joining this event scheduled until 14thDecember. Here you can read from Petra, who has only just begun the refeeding process after a 3-week hunger strike.

Still not a word from the Conservative leadership… (credit: Harry North)

Climate Election- So Far So Crisis

Since Dec 1st rebels have come together for #12DaysofCrisis to bring their dedication, courage and creativity to the election process. We have tirelessly and triumphantly filled the streets with colour and urgency in order to remind the politicians of the truly important questions which affect us all, and demand immediate action for a peaceful and possible future. 

From frolicking bees to extreme weather warnings, fighting bulldozers with bikes and grieving for the loss of the air itself, we’ve done it all. There have been tears, theatrics and lots and lots of flyers.

With the election only days away, we urge you to dig deep and consider, with clarity and compassion, the details of what’s at stake. To help with this, we bring you a new ranking system compiled by Greenpeace, which tracks the green potential of all major political manifestos and one from Friends of the Earth, for good measure.

Rebels blocking roads in Central London to demand action on deadly air pollution

Also, there have been exciting developments in our 3 Demands Bill, with over 70 political candidates now committed to supporting it (and the list is growing every day, see here for details). 

Finally, a climate crisis Q&A with all major political parties and a letter from those too young to vote to remind us that the choices we make now will affect our children for generations to come.

No show from Boris at the Big Buldozer’s Bike Ride

Boris’ Bulldozer at Heathrow

We all know that the UK cannot afford a third runway at Heathrow if it is to meet its legal target of net zero by 2050, not to mention XR’s second demand of net zero by 2025.  

We recall, also, that Boris Johnson once declared: “John McDonnell, I will join you. I will lie down in front of those bulldozers and stop the construction of that third runway.”

In these last crucial days before the general election, we wanted to hold Boris to his word and so arranged for a bulldozer to be delivered in front of Heathrow. The setting was perfect for a prime ministerial lie-in: a beautiful sunny (if windy) day, a lane cleared by police on the A4, a perfect view of Heathrow, and a stunning pink ‘bulldozer’

Adding to the grandness of the occasion, a convoy of up to 150 rebel cyclists in pink hi-vis vests travelled 15 miles across London with flags and music, with the site of the lie-in as its final destination. 

On a more serious note, the purpose of the bike ride was to highlight the importance of investing in cycling infrastructure, in addition to making real the disruption and chaos that will ensue if we don’t tackle the climate and ecological emergency.  

The cyclists were generally well received by motorists and local people, even picking up leisure cyclists opposed to the third runway along the way. 

At Heathrow, after some warm food kindly prepared by our sustenance team, the rebel cyclists staged a symbolic lie-in in front of the bulldozer, while police provided a barrier between the rebels on the ground and the traffic on the road. Speeches, a dance to warm up, and good conversation ensued.

Lying in front of a bulldozer at Heathrow – sans Boris

All in all, the cold notwithstanding, it was a pretty fantastic day! Too bad Boris never showed.

If you’d like to see and read more on the Big Bike Ride, you can catch up on the action here.

COP25 Compañeros

Rebels at the COP25 in Madrid

Rebels from the UK have been filtering down to Madrid throughout the week to support their Spanish compañeros as world leaders meet for a fresh round of negotiations at the annual UN Climate Conference. It has been four years since the Paris Agreement and 25 years since the first round of these negotiations.

Rebels have come with a clear ultimatum: Act Now. 

The Red Rebels made their first appearance on the peninsula at the fountain of Cibeles outside Madrid’s City Hall – a solemn procession in tribute to those who have and who will drown in flood waters caused by extreme storms and rising seas. There have been multiple actions and whole lot of amor & rage on the streets of the Spanish capital. 

Stay tuned for more updates from us coming your way soon! 

Red Rebels in Madrid

XR Muslims Tower Hamlets action

Climate Justice now in Tower Hamlets! The lungs of children in Tower Hamlets have been shown to be 10% below the average in the UK impacting on development and life expectancy. 

Local rebels formed a human chain outside East London Mosque to protest the climate injustices they face. Lead by young rebels, they marched down to the City and carried on their protest at Blackrock.

 Follow XRMuslims here.

XR content

History Corner – Kinder Scout, 1932

Environmental issues are commonly dismissed as middle class concerns, reserved for those who have no more pressing issues affecting their daily lives. Far from it: across 1930s industrial England, the fight for access to green spaces was seen as an important part of the working class struggle.

This struggle culminated in the Kinder Scout Trespass – described as ‘the most successful direct action in British history’, and immortalised by Ewan McColl in folk classic The Manchester Rambler.

For the full inspirational story, read on at this week’s History Corner!

Humans of XR

Yves, London

Yves is on hunger strike outside the Conservative Party Campaign HQ. 

“My name is Yves. I’m a Mexican Londoner. I’ve lived in London for 10 years and work as a corporate lawyer. I’ve been following XR’s demands and activities and I’m here because going on hunger strike and fasting for 7 days is something I can certainly do.

I believe change comes from within and this is a manner by which I can give a message to political parties to respond and act now on the climate emergency, to tell the truth; to start by recognising the current state of affairs and finally to develop mechanisms such as a citizens’ assembly by which we can participate in order to create the environment necessary for the conditions by which we can live as human beings on this planet.”

We are receiving amazing human stories and we want to know yours. To read more – or to write your own – join our Facebook group.

The newsletters are recruiting! 

As XR grows, so too does the number of actions and incredible acts of bravery that need reporting from across the world. Frequently under-reported in mainstream media, these stories are carefully collected and written up by a team of volunteers and reach 250 thousand rebels worldwide.  

If you have enjoyed reading the XR newsletters, ever felt inspired by them, and wanted to contribute to telling the story of the Rebellion, now is your chance: the newsletter is recruiting! 

We are looking for volunteers in a variety of roles. Not all roles involve writing or editing – just as important are admin and more technical roles; networking, newswatching and much more! All roles can be done remotely. 

Find out more about the roles here and get in touch by emailing us on xr-newsletter@protonmail.com. 

Thank you

Thank you for reading. There’s so much exciting stuff going on in the movement that we barely have time to write this sign-off. Keep up the good work! If you have any questions or queries, please get in touch at xr-uknewsletter@protonmail.com

As we enter this crucial phase in human history, our Rebellion will need money to make sure our message is heard. Anything you can give is appreciated. 

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