The Future’s Bright, the Future’s Orange

This is not advocating to vote for any one party*, but part of a mini series over the next few weeks looking at the hidden issues NOT being talked about in this General Election.

One of the massive issues being studiously ignored is our climate crisis. Nobody has anything really to say. This morning the radio had an in-depth piece about sunglasses being stolen in Dagenham. It’s as if we’re living in an alternate universe.

Yesterday Just Stop Oil protestors were attacked and denounced from all sides and all parties for a stunt at Stonehenge where they sprayed orange paint on the stones. Our incoming Prime Minister talked tough: “The damage done to Stonehenge is outrageous. Just Stop Oil are pathetic. Those responsible must face the full force of the law.”

There’s votes in talking tough about ‘scrawny eco-zealots’ but little electoral gain from telling the truth about climate breakdown. Clamp down on these bastards.

Like clockwork media pundits joined in the feeding frenzy, these people are ‘fucking idiots’ ‘spoilt brats’ etc etc etc. It’s all very predictable.

It turns out (actually this was really obvious to anyone who did a 30 second check) that the orange spray was made from cornstarch and would wash away in the rain quicker than a progressive Starmer policy pledge.

“But they’re performative acts” – yes that’s what symbolic protest is.

“But they’re all spoilt posh kids” – don’t be so lazy.

“But Stonehenge is so precious!” – yes that’s literally the fucking point.

“But this puts people off” – maybe, but then everything puts people off, people are desperate and scared. Wake up.

In a society of putrid inertia and reflexive impotence, any protest is wrong, any event or action which disrupts the mundanity of slow collapse and business as usual is intolerable.

Yvette Cooper joined the denunciations saying: “Appalling act of vandalism on one of the UK’s most treasured heritage sites. Protest must always be lawful – criminal damage of this kind can never be tolerated.”

As Saul Staniforth responded: “Protest must always be lawful – criminal damage of this kind can never be tolerated” On a single day in March 1912 around 150 suffragettes launched a window smashing campaign across London designed to cause as much damage as possible, in order to increase pressure on the govt.”

People have short-term memories, or have given up, or are just a bit thick. Protests is disruptive, it is made to make you think, it is made to provoke. Any protest that everyone just looks at and nods along is literally useless.

Your own history is replete with people taking direct actions to force change, to grab attention and to lay themselves on the line.

I am not a member of Just Stop Oil and I would sometimes advice different tactics, but I’m not going to stand side by side with people doing nothing to denounce them.

The idea that we should demonise protestors and call for them to “face the full force of the law” while having little or nothing of substance to say about the actual perpetrators of our climate catastrophe is so viscerally stupid, so manifestly insane as to be actually funny.

* I don’t know who to vote for or whether to vote at all.

Comments (30)

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  1. Dr Michael Orgel says:

    Well said Mike Small. But let’s not forget about that other extinction level crisis of nuclear war. There’s intersectionality with climate crisis. Let’s eliminate all the nuclear weapons before they eliminate us. When it comes to voting this election:
    Nukes are my redline.
    As a doctor I know prevention is the only possibility.

  2. Dr Michael Orgel says:

    Well said Mike Small. Let’s not forget about that other extinction event crisis. As a medical doctor I know that the only possible response is prevention. We must eliminate all the nukes before they eliminate us. And we have to have candidates in government committed to that goal. That’s why this election “nukes are my red line!”

  3. Dr Michael Orgel says:

    Well said Mike Small. Let’s not forget about that other extinction event crisis. As a medical doctor I know that the only possible response is prevention. We must eliminate all the nukes before they eliminate us. And we have to have candidates in government committed to that goal. That’s why this election “nukes are my red line!”

  4. Mary says:

    Well said Mike Small. Sadly it seems too many people prefer to bury their heads in the sand regarding such topics. Although I am disillusioned with politics, I am voting SNP as I do believe we need to regain our sovereignty as a nation to empower us personally and collectively to take a stand on the issues that truly matter. Too much apathy at the moment.

    1. BSA says:

      Agree, you will get nothing from the unreformable British State or its baked in parties and the first step right now is to vote for the only vehicle which can give us the means of escape. It’s broke but can be fixed and Westminster definitely can’t be.

  5. John says:

    Mike. – I agree with your premise that vitally important issues such as climate change are being sidelined for political expediency.
    I understand the cynicism from an overly long campaign (thank goodness for the European Championships) and the desire not to vote.
    I would respectfully point out two issues about not voting:
    1. You are effectively putting a gag on yourself politically speaking. For those that say a high number of abstentions would make a point I am afraid it is not a point that politicians in this country, who crave power, would acknowledge or bother about.
    2.FPTP is an antiquated and undemocratic electoral system but it does encourage you to vote negatively as much as positively. I have often been less than impressed by candidates but voted not for a candidate but to keep out the candidate I disliked most. I don’t know which constituency you are voting in but many Scottish constituencies are relatively marginal so you can make your vote count one way or other.

    1. Hi John – thanks – I remain undecided about whether to vote at all.

      I don’t see a compelling reason to vote for anyone. I’d like to be convinced otherwise, but I’ve not heard a reason yet.

      1. John says:

        Mike – I am a former Labour voter who switched to SNP post 2014. I have been disappointed by SNP in last few years but I still intend to vote for them because I am in a SNP/Labour marginal and I am completely scunnered with Labour in Scotland.

      2. Graeme Purves says:

        I guess it depends what constituency you are in. In Edinburgh North and Leith I am lucky enough to have Deidre Brock as an MP, a politician I have high regard for. So my vote will be more for the person than the party. I am also determined to vote against the centralist neoliberal abomination that is Sir Keir Starmer’s Labour Party.

  6. SleepingDog says:

    “* I don’t know who to vote for or whether to vote at all.”
    Yes, in one way, I deeply sympathise with this view. It is really tricky to navigate the requirements to make Greenpeace’s Climate Vote happen (nuclear war will also devastate the climate, as they are well aware.), partly because of the record of the Scottish Greens in office (this is not the Green Party you are looking for).

    In another way, this should tell us that the political system must be changed to address our global polycrisis. That is beyond Greenpeace UK’s mandate. But the general principles for such an alternative system (Health over Will) are clear. Party politics are part of the problem, not the solution.

    1. John says:

      It is all very well pontificating on how the electoral system doesn’t function or suit our version of reality but you cannot change it unless you become engaged.
      Not voting is the pseudo way of saying I don’t want to get my hands dirty.
      This is the system that is in place and the only way to change it is to engage with it and use what political power you have.
      I have stated above that I am going to vote SNP in a SNP/ Labour marginal not because I think the SNP are wonderful but because I despise the utter hypocrisy of Labour in Scotland and do not want them to get any more seats in Scotland. Basically the lesser of 2 evils.
      At least I have engaged and not stood there and held my nose in a superior manner. You do understand that if you don’t vote the elected government won’t give a flying fuck about your higher principles.
      Power is dirty and to influence it you sometimes need to get dirty yourself. It’s called life!

      1. SleepingDog says:

        @John, you seem to misunderstand my position. There are anarchists who don’t vote out of principle. I’m not one of those. There are people who say voting changes nothing. I’m not one of those. Sometimes voting for a lesser evil makes sense. But when the system is (demonstrably, in my view) itself evil, and irremediably corrupt, options for changing the system should (in the ethical sense) be considered.

        There is, I guess, an electoral path to constitutional change, which in the medium to long term could bring about some structural changes that could end British imperialism and (for example) enshrine some rights of nature into legally-binding Constitutional imperatives. The problem is that we have run out of road. Electoral choices may mitigate some aspects of the polycrisis, but there is no democratic way of even holding a government to its manifesto promises. The system defends itself; its adherents, their privileges. When threatened, the Empire strikes back.

        Wearing my political scientist hat, I am extremely reluctant to exercise my right not to vote (or spoil my ballot), and am not advising others to refrain from voting. But I am saying that large and significant areas of public policy are beyond electoral choice at this election, even more so than is usual in post-WW2 general elections in the UK, at least in the parties designated for government. There is for example no demilitarisation option offered by the main parties (and certainly not the pro-NATO SNP). I appreciated Lesley Riddoch’s Blossom, for example, but her characterisation of the SNP here smacks of humbug:
        I think John Swinney’s pro-NATO nuclear annihilation stance is a sign that he and his party is ‘morally lost’, to use his terminology. Why exactly are we holding the living planet hostage to the current whims of the ruling establishment of the British Empire and its USAmerican Imperial Overlords?

        1. Mary says:

          Gordon MacIntyre-Kemp from the Believe in Scotland group offers interesting alternatives. He states;
          ‘We need a pro-indy majority in Westminster if there is to be any progress on independence.
          Come 5 July, politics must take a back seat to a civic, cultural and creative independence movement that can reach across politics to bring people to independence. Key will be to communicate the purpose of independence and that should be the creation of a wellbeing economy, dumping neoliberalism capitalism in the dustbin of history starting in Scotland. (You can read the full text on BIS Facebook page -interesting and thought provoking!)

          1. John says:

            Thanks Mary.

        2. John says:

          I do understand where you are coming from and have read this critique many times before.
          I may not disagree with some of your views but I disagree with your conclusion to potentially opt out of electoral system as you are standing aside from the frae and allowing others to decide your fate.
          I, like many others, will not necessarily vote SNP when independence achieved at which point we can decide how Scotland is governed. Our individual votes are liable to count for more with a fairer electoral system and we will not be drowned out by voters outside Scotland.

          1. SleepingDog says:

            @John, well “a fairer electoral system” is one thing that voters can *try* to bring in, but this has been a goal of organised reformists since before Charter 88 (that is, 1988). Goal 4. Its descendant today is:
            If you are not familiar with their ideas, their website might be worth a quick browse.

            Political engagement for the masses does not begin and end at the ballot box, of course. Despite what the BBC might want the public to think.

            I don’t know if you’ve read Frank Herbert’s Dune, but there’s a kind of Golden Thread mindset at work, the idea that in a narrow tube of electoral futures, a multi-generational set of results will eventually bring about constitutional reform (the holy grail/tipping point of single-transferrable-vote). Maybe, but maybe we’ll as likely get fascism by the ballot box in due course.

            Then again, given that incoming governments are likely to impose some form of martial law as our polycrisis yawns jaggedly, maybe electoral influence is about to evaporate anyway. You you try for the least authoritarian government before that happens, I guess. But I didn’t say I was going to abstain from voting.

      2. Graeme Purves says:

        Exactly so, John.

  7. 240621 says:

    Some climate activists engage in harmless vandalism to convey the message that art and other heritage can’t exist on a destroyed planet. The eco-vandalism caused by the burning of fossil-fuels is far more serious than any damage done by climate activist stunts; certainly more serious than a bit of orange flour on some standing stones or some soup-splatter on the protective glass on the front of a painting.

    ‘Spoil’ your ballot paper, Mike, as an act of harmless vandalism/protest to convey the message that democracy can’t exist on a destroyed planet.

    1. James Mills says:

      Yeah – that’ll make a big impact !

      1. 240621 says:

        What would you suggest, then? How might Mike’s vote make a greater impact?

        1. John says:

          The politicians do not care if you make a grand gesture and spoil your ballot they will still be in power regardless of how many voters spoil their papers. You are basically silencing yourself.
          Why do politicians ignore the concerns of younger voters and prioritise those of older ones?

          1. 240622 says:

            Granted. But what would you suggest, then? How might Mike’s vote make a greater impact?

          2. John Monro says:

            I’ll disagree here, I’ve posted further down and should have read comments here first, sorry. But if millions spoiled their voting papers, that would say something that’s never been said before in the UK.

        2. Niemand says:

          Why should a single person’s vote have a greater impact than their one vote? One thing is certain – not voting will have zero impact.

          1. 240624 says:

            Indeed; each individual vote carries exactly the same weight in determining the general will of society. That’s democracy.

            I think Mike’s complaint concerns the limited range of alternatives he can vote for. None of the available candidates aligns with his own personal opinions.

            My suggestion is that, rather than not voting at all, Mike should vote for ‘None of the Above (for the reasons given over on the ‘Why Vote?’ thread). This would have a greater impact on the outcome of the election than not voting. Of course, your, Mike’s, and my vote wouldn’t – and shouldn’t – have any greater impact than anyone else’s.

  8. WT says:

    Being honest I don’t think these kind of protests work – like it or not they do alienate much of the population and they and their actions become the focus not the issue. Our media does let us down – the standard of reporting and the ‘voice’ dilutes the seriousness of the situation we all face. Good short piece on RTE on the subject – worth a look about 2 mins long

    1. WT says:

      The video at the end describes the danger very well

    2. 240621 says:

      I’ve been having this argument elsewhere. I don’t think they’re trying to endear themselves to anyone. Their protests are not aimed at winning friends and influencing people; they’re about keeping the issue high on the news agenda and in the forefront of people’s minds. Shocking and outrageous behaviour does that more effectively than peaceful, inoffensive behaviour, which isn’t nearly as newsworthy.

  9. Mr Vertigo says:

    Brilliant, sir!

  10. John Monro says:

    Gosh, Mike, you write so well. Another class posting to this site. Basically says it all really. I’m not a position to do anything about my suggestion that I’m going to make, as I live in New Zealand. But really there should be a mass campaign of vote spoiling. All youngsters who feel abandoned, vote with a bit FUA – “F… You All” or similar. And why do I say all youngster? All betrayed citizens who are railing and wailing in your failing, flailing Kingdom, and that’s 90% of you, should do the same. The biggest ever finger to the powers that be going back to the civil war, . though this time not a man or woman needs to be hurt. I’ve been learning A Man’s a Man for A’ that to sing in a local concert to raise funds for Medicine Sans Frontiere for Palestine – I’ll be singing in my kilt a programme of Scottish songs, and will end with this ode to egalitarianism

    You see yon birkie ca’d a Lord, wha struts and stares and a’ that, Though hundreds worship at his word, He’s but a coof for a’ that, For a’ that an’ a that, His ribband star and a’that, The man o’ independent mind, he looks and laugh’s at a’ that.

    As others have noted, the threat of nuclear war and a hot war with Russia grows every day, yet when Farage states the bleeding obvious that the West and NATO provoked Russia, he’s shot down in flames from every “cool” in the Kingdom. There is a frightening parallel to these first years of this century with those of the last, which led up to WW1 – the same stupidity, the same jingoism, the same failing states all jockeying for relevance in a changed world.

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