Manchester’s Mutual Masturbation Morass on #climate

Manchester City Council is refusing to admit that a recent “independent” review of its climate activities was a joke.  

In February an “independent” (more on that later) report was released giving the council a clean bill of health about its climate action.It had involved some people coming up from Bristol and talking to people the Council had suggested they talk to. 

In response to a Freedom of Information Act request which asked “Did the Council make any effort to point the “peer challenge” team towards anyone who wasn’t going to say “nice things” about the Council, especially on climate change?”

The council gave a response (not a reply) that consisted of the following

“The Council developed a plan for the Peer Challenge in collaboration with the LGA, including the officers, members and stakeholders that would be interviewed. Those interviewed were freely able to express their opinions and were encouraged to do so.”

The council officer was invited to improve on that or else an internal review would be requested.

“Dear Ms Wood

I am not satisfied with your answer to question three.  

Please try again

If you do not, I will request an internal review.


Dr Marc Hudson”

They declined the opportunity,

Dear Mr Hudson, 

Thank you for your email. 

We have no further information to provide in response to this information request. 

Kind regards,


[And note that Kate cannot even get someone’s title right. I don’t care about the Dr thing,but the fact that she has such poor attention to detail does not exactly fill ya with confidence, does it?]

So an internal review has been requested.


I want an answer to my question.  It can simply be a sentence  “No, we did not make any effort to contact people who would have critical perspectives on the Council.”

Therefore I request an internal review.

Dr Marc Hudson

If that does not result in an actual answer then I guess it goes to the Information Commissioner.

What is going on

These “independent” “challenges” are a wheeze and a junket set up via the Local Government Association (the club that the various councils join). It’s a “you say nice things about us, and we will say nice things about you” echo chamber and mutual masturbation racket that is worse than useless.

Useless because it is devoid of actual truth, actual challenge at a time when it is more urgently needed than ever (see below). Worse-than-useless because it feeds into the smugness, complacency and turd-polishing that Manchester City Council has been doing on climate change since (checks notes) …. forever.

It’s the equivalent of a circle jerk.

Why this matters

Manchester as a city has burned through 6 million tonnes of its 15 million tonne carbon budget for the 21st century in the last three years.  It is so ridiculously off track as to make the whole thing a joke. Not the funny kind.

Manchester City Council would say “but we’re only two/four per cent of the budget, and we’re on target for OUR emissions reductions.” 

Setting aside the fact that Manchester City Council’s emissions reductions are largely from cutting services, sacking staff and flogging buildings, the bigger point is this. 

It was Manchester City Council that set the budget. It was Manchester City Council that gobbled up the PR opportunities. Therefore it is Manchester City Council that has to show leadership. Leadership is not preening and organising mutual masturbation and calling it “independent.” Leadership involves ensuring that the truth is found, and that it is acted on.  Manchester City Council will not know the truth about climate change until it bites their fat white arses.

What you can do

Understand that this Council has precisely zero intention of ever learning anything from its own mistakes, that it sticks its fingers in its ears and shouts “La La La” at the top of its lungs.

See for example, refusing to have the Council’s sole green councillor on the Environment and Climate Change Scrutiny Committee that the Council had to set up because of public pressure from Climate Emergency Manchester (full disclosure – I am a former member of that organisation, and co-founder).

Understand that the Council treats climate change as just another issue to be spun and lied about, just another issue to be part of its international marketing campaigns.

Once you understand that

  1. Up your Freedom of Information Act skills (this is not difficult, and Climate Emergency Manchester is hosting a free training event on May 17th), because they ain’t NEVER gonna tell you the truth about this issue. Or any other for that matter. It is just who they are.
  2. Join a functional group that i)  isn’t led by poseurs and super-annuated virtue-signallers and/or co-opted drones and ii) is trying to innovate rather than continuing with the same stale repertoires of holding poorly-attended rallies and events, or serving up opportunities to councillors to preen and dodge the important questions.  That doesn’t leave you with very many groups, it’s true. Good luck, cos you are gonna need it.

About manchesterclimatemonthly

Was print format from 2012 to 13. Now web only. All things climate and resilience in (Greater) Manchester.
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