The Labour Party’s annual conference was held in Manchester between the 20th and 24th of September. Internal strife, low poll-ratings and economic turmoil over-shadowed environmental issues inside the conference, but campaigners from Manchester and across the UK met at fringe events to formulate responses to the climate crisis.
A stones throw from Labour’s maximum security fortress, The Convention of the Left met over the course of the conference, bringing together a wide variety of Leftist activists for a series of free public seminars and debates. Monday 22nd was ‘Planet Day’, which involved well attended events tackling subjects such as the link between environmental destruction and the economic system, whether climate change can be solved without nuclear, and how to build strong grassroots environmental movements. The Convention was followed by the launch of the Manchester Campaign for Free Public Transport on Thusrday 24th, an initiative greeted with enthusiasm at the convention.
Meanwhile on Portland street the Climate Clinic created, in the words of the organizers, “a forum where party leaders, ministers, renowned scientists, opinion formers, environmentalists, low-carbon associations, business leaders and the public come together to debate the issues, spotlight the solutions and press for urgent action and vigorous political leadership.” Seminars covered topics including fuel poverty, moving beyond growth based economies, the feasibility of ‘eco-towns’, and the future of renewable energy in the UK. The event was organised and sponsored by a 20 strong coalition of environmental and development NGOs and think tanks. Sources close to MCFly report that government Ministers were less than confidence-inspiring (and occasionally absent), but the free buffet food was of exceptional quality.
It wasn’t all talk though. On Tuesday 23rd over 100 people converged on Albert Square to reveal red t-shirts emblazoned with ‘STOP AIRPORT EXPANSION’. The protesters lay on the ground to spell out ‘Take the Train’ with their bodies, referring to the 29% of flights from Manchester that are domestic.
Almost as many police supervised the 15 minute stunt, which was hailed a success by orgainsers. Robbie Gillet commented, “we got the message across with a great photo opportunity for the local press”.
The event also launched a new campaign group- Stop Expansion of Manchester Airport (SEMA), an umbrella organisation linking local environmentalists with wider anti-aviation campaigns. SEMA are holding an open meeting at 7pm on Thursday 16th October at the Green Fish Resource Centre to form a plan of action.