Nobody knows what is going to happen. Will “Article 50” even get invoked? Will there be a second referendum, and if there were, would it actually go differently? Will the Tories split? Will Labour? Will Scotland leave? So what comes below are simply guesses, not pronouncements. Am happy to hear other people’s thoughts…
Manchester City Council
Manchester City Council has already given up on doing anything about climate change. It is in a pattern of ignoring old promises (not just from 2009, but even from as recent as 2014 – see next blog post for details). You need an electron microscope to see their commitment to climate change action. The leadership on this issue is either/both non-existent or actively hostile. I believe brexit will just make that worse, for wo reasons.
Firstly, because Manchester City Council’s entire “business model” over the last 30 (and especially 20) years has been built on inward investment. They’ll now be spending every minute of every day assuaging the freak-outs of the investors (Chinese, German, whatever) and trying to show that Manchester – even outside the EU – is a good place to do business. Any perception of ‘green tape’ will be killed off.
Secondly, because there is likely to be an even more hostile and stupid Government in London, with direct impacts on Manchester’s citizens AND on the money the Council gets from Westminster. Everything non-statutory – including climate change – is at risk of getting thrown out because there is no money, and competent staff need to be kept, and kept on the core stuff.
The uncertainties are these – what will happen to the Labour Party nationally? Will it split? If it does, most councillors and apparatchiks will move in with the “right-wing”/”Blairites” whatever you want to call it. That may have a (small) impact on how well opposition parties do in the 2018 “all-out” election – I suspect a lot of people vote Labour in Manchester thinking they are voting for a left-wing party.. UKIP, the Greens, the Lib Dems may all fancy their chances in different parts of the city, and the sitting councillors will be scrambling to save their arses. They won’t be talking climate, and they won’t be admitting previous screw-ups.
And of course, now that the prospect of becoming an MEP is gone, a bunch of ambitious councillors will be chasing a diminished number of other opportunities, in very direct competition with each other. Watch the fur fly, if you can be bothered.
Activists are already paying very little attention to the City Council’s grotesquely bad performance on climate change. With the rise of racism, (and probably fascism), individuals and groups will (quite rightly!) be struggling against that. Climate change will stay in the ‘too hard/not immediate enough’ box, with the probable exception of fracking. The Green Party will (only) try to win council seats, and Friends of the Earth will have its hands very very full trying to fight against the inevitable bonfire of the European regulations that have stopped the UK from being a total slagheap and set for a dystopian horror film (see here and here and here).
One silver lining.
The totally useless and mis-named “Manchester Climate Change Agency” will surely now be killed off. It won’t be able to access European funds, and the Council is blowing (high) tens of thousands of pounds a year propping it up. I wouldn’t give much for the future of the Greater Manchester Low Carbon Hub either. What has it produced except some colourful organisational charts, after all?
What is to be done?
Carpe the diems.
Grab your ankles and prepare to kiss your arses goodbye.
Do enough to pass the mirror test.
If we DO try to do something, let’s make it based on principles of sustainability, legitimate peripheral participation, skill-sharing and avoidance of the smugosphere [what’s that? see this ‘movement-building, what is to be done?‘ post from late last year], emotathons and all the old nonsense that has not worked.