Two developments in Manchester over the last week have me hurling an unsolicited and unwelcome grenade from afar (well, three – a very kind message from a Mcr stalwart). Don’t read on if you are of a nervous disposition. As well as this being #OldFartClimateAdvice and #UnsolicitedAdvice, this is also written in the spirit of #NoPrisoners and #NFLTG. If you are going to tell me WHY I am wrong, please do respond. If you are just going to hurl ad hominems, save the electrons and your/my time – it’s way later than we think.
First the “developments”
Second what Manchester City Council/Labour Party are likely to do next.
Third, what the members of the Manchester “environmental advocacy network” can/should do about that and more broadly.
Finally, some final reflections.
1. The Developments
Development One – Manchester City Council/Climate Change Agency is finally beginning to admit what your average amoeba has known for years (so, will have come as a surprise to most Labour Councillors, and most of the Executive) there is not a snowball’s chance in hell of Manchester staying within its 15 million tonne carbon budget. That 15 million tonne budget, established in 2018, was supposed to last the whole century. In the past 3 years – as per multiple blog posts/reports in MCFly/CEM – we’ve been burning 2 Million Tonnes a year. So, over half the entire century budget gone in four years. That’s next-level failure, even for this Council.
So, the Manchester Climate Change “Agency” – whose top official is a council bureaucrat on £60k because three separate national job searches could not find anyone else – is putting out moronic graphics like this one.
Development Two – Climate Emergency Manchester (full disclosure: I co-founded it and was in the core group until last November, when I began to consciously uncouple myself from Manchester) has gone public about its evident frustrations with the performance of Manchester Green Party. See the blogpost Will the Manchester Green Party be an effective Official Opposition? by my friend and former colleague Robbie Watt.
So far, no official response from MGP. Three options
- a) they will simply not reply (either because they judge it easier/safer to pretend it hasn’t been said, or because they won’t be able to get their act together to offer a reply).
- b) they will say some variation of “why don’t you middle-class wankers keep you’re stoopid opinions to yourselves? We Have Three Councillors.”
- c) they will actually actively engage and try to figure out how to be play the role that Friends of the Earth should have been playing (except since about 2009 it has been, on climate, a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Council) or, more recently, Extinction Rebellion Manchester, till it fizzled out into utter irrelevance [does it even exist anymore?]) – namely, acting as a galvanising, connecting force among the diverse groups in Manchester, fighting on different issues and different local battles, to create a vibrant and sustained radical counterweight to the neoliberal poison that Labour Group serves up.
2. What Manchester City Council will do next
This is based on almost 15 years of close and pained observation/engagement and archival research going back to the late 1980s, when “The Greenhouse Effect” became something the Council had to pretend to give a damn about.
You have to understand with these brittle narcissists – who have long-lived in a self-designed echo chamber, but seethe with resentment and jealousy at those who can still see and say the truth – that NOTHING is EVER their fault. Mistakes were made, but never ever by them.
So, they will try to
a) burnish their own credentials. They are already brazenly trying to frame themselves as “brave” for having made a big headline-grabbing promise back in 2018. God forbid anyone should expect them to actually take actions to meet that promise. What are you, some sort of nutter who hates the Labour Party? [Btw, this dynamic is EXACTLY the same as Boris Johnson promising to ‘level up’. He knew it would play well, and he knew that he was never going to do the things that needed doing to make that empty shiny promise into reality.] They will go on and on about how far-sighted they were, how bold and how deserving of applause they are. They will roll out various brain-dead flunkies to repeat the line.
b) shift the focus.
This falls into two parts.
i) They will try to shift the blame onto others, especially central government. (To a lesser extent – they toyed with it last year – they will blame other organisations in Manchester for not having reduced emissions at the rate the Council has. This is tricky though, because some organisations might push back, and others will point to the Council’s actually quite shoddy performance).
ii) They will try to shift the debate onto OTHER issues – biodiversity (let’s not mention Hough End Fields though!) or “public” space like Mayfield (it won’t be public. It will be more private space that superficially seems public). Or a momentary uptick in recycling rates.
They may – though I doubt it –
3) come out swinging against their public critics. They will attack the Greens and Lib Dems, obvs, but that goes without saying. They might push back against CEM and other groups. But on the whole, they have just enough braincells to know what the Streisand Effect is. Occasionally claim “nonsense”, but nothing more.
4) to co-opt critics. But they don’t have the skills or credibility for that, I think. I mean, they will find some clueless zombies for photo-ops, there are always those. But beyond that? Yeah, nah.
3. Opposing what? Proposing what?
So, the tedious ‘what is to be done?’ question.
For. The. Love. Of. God. CARPE. ALL. OF. THE. DIEMS. Have you looked at the forecasts for the weather, for food/fuel prices, for the horsemen of the apocalypse? What are you doing dicking around with futile information-deficit model-based maundering and tedious endless meetings? Get out there and enjoy your last good weeks/months, dammit. Whatever that is- whether it is reading books, skydiving, going to orgies, gigs or theatre or whatever. As long as it is consenting adults, for the love of god, get busy.
But if you will insist, here is some unsolicited advice.
a) NAME WHAT THE COUNCIL IS DOING.
Name the self-burnishing bullshit. Name the blame-shifting. Name the distraction techniques. Do it with twice as much mockery and sarcasm as you think they deserve, because you are massively underestimating what these poltroons actually should get. Bile and vitriol? – yes, but sparingly.
and explain it, in the context of their actual agenda – a) maintenance of their own power/comfort, b) the ‘inward investment’ model that has serve them and some others so well.
b) NAME THE CYCLE
It isn’t hard.
Here CEM could have simply raided its back catalogue for a perfect image: the one with the cycle of protest, promise, protest that was produced for it by Marc Roberts. The same one I can’t find on their website.
c) INCREASE YOUR – AND OTHERS – CAPACITY TO ACT.
For the love of god, Manchester Green Party, sort out your useless bloody website. You know, the one that THREE MONTHS AFTER THE ELECTIONS IS STILL TALKING ABOUT THEM IN THE FUTURE TENSE. If you put out a press release, it is the work of five minutes to turn it into a blog post. But I bet you are barely putting out press releases even, are you?
For the love of god, everyone, FOIAs.
And then you can put out a press release saying “we’ve asked these questions.” And the day before the responses come back, another press release about this. And once you’ve digested the Council’s responses, another one saying “Council failing/lying/lying about failing”. And then one about the infernal review that you have requested. This really is not rocket science.
- Blogs that explain what is coming up in the next weeks/month, that are well-structured and explain the bigger picture
- Tweets and twitter threads
- Videos (quick and dirty – see Marc and Humbug)
- Actual regular podcasts.
- “Et cetera”
d) BUILD THE “AUDIENCE” FOR THE ABOVE
There are people out there who are scared about climate, want to take action. Most of them won’t, when it comes to it (because, well, humans), but surely it is the job of “activists” to build actual links with individuals and groups, so their work in explaining the Council and its bullshit is only normally rather than abnormally futile?
e) BE PROPOSITIONAL AS WELL AS OPPOSITIONAL
Though, to be honest, I don’t see much hope of compelling “visions” of the future. But CEM – and to some extent Steady State Manchester – have a whole lot of concrete propositions of things that could be done NOW to make life marginally less terrible.
4. Final “thoughts”
Is this my last blog post about Manchester and its catastrophic failure on climate? Probably. I was going to do one about what fourteen years of ‘activism’ had taught me. It was too depressing, and nobody was going to read it, or act on it, so FTN.
BTW, most of that “its” belongs to the Council, but it isn’t as if the environmentalists – liberal or ‘radical’ – have exactly covered themselves in glory. Endless self-serving self-regarding smugosphere shite, over and over and over again, virtue signalling and failure with not a skerrick of learning to be found. Endless boom and bust bullshit.