This blog post is going to look at the the public “communications” of three prominent climate/environmental groups in Manchester and say “WTAF”.
If you’re familiar with MCFly none of this will be a surprise. If you’re not, you’ll be wondering “who the hell does this obnoxious arsehole [‘asshole’, if you’re American] think he is, doing these ‘calling outs’?” Short answer – I’m a veteran of 14 years of local climate campaigning who has never really been very good at caring what other people think [replicant?] and now has even less cause to care, because I’m on my “victory” lap (1). You gotta understand, I’ve tried praise sandwiches, practical help with these outfits, and I have seen them ignore not just me [totally understandable – I sympathise in fact] but also ignore other people. These groups just don’t seem to have the absorptive capaciity.
And let’s do the ‘so what’ bit first, the why anyone should care that these groups underperform on comms. It’s this: there are loads of people out there scared/concerned about climate change. (See survey here). A number (a small number) of those people probably want to get involved in ‘activism’. A subset of those people might even try to find out how to get involved in local groups. If they can’t get up-to-date information via a cursory internet search, then they are going to assume that a) the groups are not interested in new members and/or b) they as individuals haven’t looked in the right place, aren’t plugged into the right networks.
And that, children, is how the Bad Guys won the war to keep the species on a path to self-destruction…
So, finally, the three groups are, in descending order of importance – The Manchester Green Party, Extinction Rebellion and the so-called “COP26 Coalition.”
Manchester Green Party (MGP) has been around for decades. They had a councillor from 2003 to 2008. Earlier this year they got another councillor, who wanted to sit on the Environment and Climate Scrutiny Committee (the one that had been fought for and won by Climate Emergency Manchester). Thanks to Labour Group, he wasn’t able to. Now, I think there were a bunch of things the Green Party could have done about that which would have raised their profile and raised the political legitimacy costs to Labour over that shitty decision. MGP didn’t do anything that I can see. But – and here’s the worst part, it isn’t even putting up blog posts about how the City and Council are doing on climate change (terribly). They aren’t even putting up blog posts on what the Councillor is doing on the scrutiny committee he IS sitting on.
So, a random person, trying to figure out what the Green Party actually DOES, other than campaign to get another councillor, is none the wiser, because there have been no new blog posts on the Manchester Green Party’s website since the beginning of September (and that was a link to a softball interview on media site!). That’s basically three months. I mean, wtaf?
Next up, Extinction Rebellion Manchester. Everyone knows XR, right? Everyone has an opinion. Well, gutsy and clever XR activists just did a co-ordinated blockade of 13 Amazon distribution sites. Including at Manchester Airport.
So you’d think that the XR Manchester website might have something about it? Nope, nada, crickets. The website doesn’t even have an advert for the upcoming XR Xmas gathering at Sandbar (Saturday 11th December from 6pm, since you ask – they’re not holding any regular meetings until 2022, because they’re tired. Thank god Climate Change isn’t an emergency, eh?). So someone wanting to get involved, but who wants to know what it’s all about before sending a Twitter DM is… supposed to do what, exactly? If a group can’t even put up a statement about a high profile action, where four people got arrested, then what kind of comms IS it interested in/capable of?
Last and least, the laughable so-called “COP 26 Coalition Manchester.”
This outfit spaffed over 600 quid on a stage and sound system so some tiny groups desperate for an audience could talk to each other in banalities, generalities and worthy out-of-dateries on November 6th. They managed to point a long-out-of-date URL (that’s been on a banner, undermining the credibility of the broader ‘movement’ for years) to a Facebook page. And have they updated that Facebook page or even sent out Tweets since then? Yes, once, after this site and another pointed to the silence and on 20th November there was some minimal activity. And that was 8 days ago. Since then? Crickets.
Again, this matters. On basic grounds of competence and regularity, if you’re not able to even tell people who might be supportive what you are up to, they are going to look at your silence and get a signal.
Here we are, as the planet burns (or rather, as people with our lifestyles and bigger burn the planet), unwilling (or unable?) to do the basic bread and butter kinds of social movement organisation activity which is necessary but not sufficient to even maintaining an organisation, let alone growing a wider movement. So very glad
a) I am leaving Manchester and wont’ be “talking into the void”.
b) I didn’t breed.
When prominent organisations, which claim to be building radical resistance to the destruction of the conditions for continued human existence on this planet are this useless, with consequences for the credibility of climate activism more generally, it is mildly irksome.
(1) Ha ha ha. “total failure lap” is more like it.