Ed Miliband on #climate change. Hero or zero or just bumbling through like the rest of us?

Ed Miliband, leader of the Labour Party and perhaps in 16 months the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, has made a series of sensible points in an interview with the Observer newspaper. He of course uses the “national security” and “resilience” rhetoric that anyone who wants to mention the environment has to, unless they want to be labelled a hippy tree-hugger.

facebookexchangeonmilibandredactedMCFly interviewed Miliband just before the last election. And we’ve seen him in action a couple of times. For what it’s worth, he was a surprisingly honest and willing-to-actually-engage-in-debate-and-discussion kinda guy. The discussion in this facebook conversation sums up the dilemma very well.

Here’s the thing though; In the absence of enormous “countervailing power” that forces elected leaders to put the frackers and the airport builders on a (very very) short leash, then it doesn’t matter if someone like Miliband had the wisdom of Solomon, the oratory of Obama and the courage of Judi Bari and Chico Mendes. We have to grow up and realise nobody is coming to save us from the consequences of our previous actions and inactions. The Milibands of the world might be able to help, but if the species is going to avoid the worst of it, and roll with the punches, then it will be because of millions (billions) of nameless people beavering away with no expectation of recognition, reward or, ultimately, success. If you want to meet some others of those people, come along to the next Manchester Climate Monthly meeting – “Climate Action in Manchester – where next” on Tuesday 25th February from 6.30pm onwards at the Friends Meeting House, Mount St in the City Centre.
thedilemma
From this wonderful illustrator/cartoonist/activist.

UPDATE 17 Feb 2014: And Jon Harris is a bit self-contradictory

He says

I am not the first to point it out, but if now is the time to belatedly protest the four-year absence of what we once called “green issues” from mainstream politics, we should be honest enough to properly apportion the blame. It’s not about Nigel Lawson, or pantomime-villain deniers: they will stick to their script no matter what, and sounded just as daft before the great deluge of 2014 as they have in the midst of it. No, if anyone is going to carry the can for the fact that climate change vanished from public discourse just as the weather was definitely turning strange, it is surely the politicians who once banged on about its urgency, and then suddenly went quiet.

but then also

I watched Miliband interview Mohamed Nasheed, the then president of the Maldives – the island nation whose fears about climate change make headlines about the British weather look like indulgent moaning. Nasheed clearly understood the need to commune with power – but he also talked about the best way of pushing backsliding politicians in the right direction.

“What we need is large-scale, 60s-style direct action: dynamic street activity,” he said, “and we need to act very quickly.” He uttered those words in 2010. Four years later, they still sound like a consummate piece of advice.

 

Erm. The people who do that mass-protest/nvda etc etc aren’t the Labour politicians.  It’s the “people”.  Via their trades unions, churches, campaigning groups etc. All of which have been shrunk/obliterated by the ravages of anomie, neo-liberalism and the State.

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About manchesterclimatemonthly

Was print format from 2012 to 13. Now web only. All things climate and resilience in (Greater) Manchester.
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5 Responses to Ed Miliband on #climate change. Hero or zero or just bumbling through like the rest of us?

  1. tim bastable says:

    I really disagree with the sentiment of this article – Milliband may look like a perfect call for the human actor version of Wallace in Wallace and Grommet and he may have all the charisma of a cod fillet on a slab but the last Labour government created a really powerful and widely acclaimed piece of legislation – The Climate Change act 2007 was drafted in close consultation with environmental groups and laid out a genuine path to decarbonisation – It’s the tories who are ignoring the bill = possibly illegally as it has legally binding clauses –

    It’s to easy to stand on the sidelines pointing – actually 100’s of thousands of activists will achieve very little – we’ve been around for 30 odd years now and look at things – possibly if we hadn’t had our heads so far up our own arses single issue campaigning and had a bit more of an eye on mainstream politics we might not be in quite such deep doo doo – Activism will help – but we need a government committed to action and labour have shown themselves willing – maybe a bit less blind cynicism and a bit more credit for Labours achievement might just ensure we don’t get another 5 years of the current bunch of unspeakable shits – who are hell bent on realising Thatchers vision of a return to victorian england

    • Erm,
      I didn’t make any comment on Miliband’s appearance or charisma (you did). I actually praised the man.
      I also think that there is a more complicated relationship between those “in power” and the activists than you seem to in this comment, except in the bit where you admit the Climate Change Act (2008, fwiw – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Climate_Change_Act_2008) was to do with environmental groups. Even there, the story is more complicated. I saw Ed himself state that it should have been called the Friends of the Earth Climate Change Act 2008. This was FORCED upon them by activists. I remember sending emails when requested to get them up to an 80% target when they wanted a 60%. It wasn’t “Labour’s achievement” – even the guy in charge of them now admits that.

      I think I also resent the implication that a) I am standing on the sidelines and b) that I am a single issue campaigner. But that’s just me!

  2. gille liath says:

    This piece gives Miliband less than his due, bearing in mind the utter failure of govt figures to even mention climate change in this context. It’s grassroots action – not politics – that, by itself, is not going to achieve anything whatever. What’s needed is co-ordinated, policy-led action at national and international level, and we can’t get that without at least acknowledgement by leading politicians that this is a problem needing to be dealt with; whilst an interview like this doesn’t in itself change anything, it ought to be warmly welcomed in a situation where climate change has almost disappeared off the mainstream political agenda. The most important thing we Ordinary Joes can do is not to hold workshops, produce community plans etc – it’s to lean on the said politicians for all we’re worth. That way – and only that way – the few people with enough sense to care can have an influence out of proportion to their numbers.

    • Holy cow. Why fall into the trap of either-or thinking? Why not see it – the relation between “grass-roots” action and the “mainstream” as a shifting dialectical process rather than an either/or?
      If you, gille (whom I have asked before what you do besides commenting on these posts, and I didn’t get much of an inspiring or clear answer) want to “lean on said politicians for all we’re worth” then you go right ahead. FWIW, I’ve NEVER had you send me one link to Avaaz, or Change.org or any e-petition site. I’ve NEVER had you send me your letter to a politician and their reply. I’ve never had you send me an article entitled “10 things I learnt about effective lobbying this month.” Never. So thanks for the advice, but I will continue to advocate – and DO – BOTH lobbying of elite corporate meat-puppets AND the community plans and workshops and all the other things that build our side’s capacity, maintain our morale and the like.

  3. It’s kind of hard for politicians to have a stance on these things whilst occupying the middle ground, Milliband needs to define himself if he wants any chance at becoming prime minister

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