There’s a Labour Party Conference coming to town, in case you didn’t know (or care). On Monday 22nd September, from 12.45 to 2.15 there is a panel on Fuel Poverty. A “Fuel Poverty Action” activist has been invited to be on the panel, and then disinvited. Explanation is not really forthcoming. In any case, it seems extraordinary that security can’t cope with one activist. It’s not like she’s a 6’10” Terminator. Perhaps the real threat is to their ideology?
Fuel Poverty Action statement 17/09/2014
Fuel Poverty Action activist barred from Labour Party Conference
We were bewildered to hear that one of our founding members has been barred from speaking at a fringe meeting, on our behalf, at the Labour Party Conference.
Ewa Jasiewicz was invited to speak at a Manchester University Policy thinktank event on fuel poverty. Having accepted and filled out all the necessary security forms she was surprised to hear two weeks later in an impersonal email from conference organisers that she had not passed the ‘security requirements’ and as a result would not be admitted to the conference.
When she asked on what grounds she was being excluded, she was sent a one line response simply stating that the Greater Manchester Police (GMP) would not divulge the reason for refusing access to the conference.
With the grounds to Ewa’s barring made secret we are left questioning whether what has taken place is political policing- with both an individuals protest history and the ideas they promote- including bringing energy under public and community control and the role of direct action in creating change- blocked from being heard.
Many of our group are active trade unionists. We believe in solidarity and collective action: we are taking this exclusion of Ewa as an exclusion of our group and our ideas.
We are also left to speculate as to whether the exclusion is due to our stance on fracking, a new extractive industry supported by Labour as well as the current coalition government, and because we have taken part in the Reclaim the Power action camps at Balcombe and Blackpool against fracking.
We oppose fracking because it will do nothing to bring down our fuel bills whilst it exacerbates climate change, bringing even greater inequality and suffering to people here and globally, particularly those already struggling in poverty, as well as threatening local communities and water.
Regular, large protests against Igas’ drilling Salford last winter were met with police repression- including assaults of a grandmother, a fifteen year old girl, a pregnant woman and a lawyer among many others- it is scary and disappointing to see another block on democracy, free speech and debate on fracking being lead by the Labour Party and the GMP.
Allowing a members’ conference to be securitised in such a way so that it excludes people and groups which go against Labour party policies past and present -from the Iraq war to fracking-normalises political policing and is deeply undemocratic.
We’re demanding an explanation from Greater Manchester Police and the Labour Party for the reason for the barring of Ewa and that our presence at the Manchester University fringe meeting on Fuel Poverty to go ahead.
PS In terms of writing press releases; Four paragraphs, max. A snappy quote that journalists (always mildly busy) can use is good too. #unsolicitedadvice