Climate and Anti-Fracking Bloc adds its voice to National Anti-Austerity Demonstration in the streets around the Conservative Party’s Birmingham Conference

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The People’s Assembly had organised the protest ‘Tories Out! Austerity has failed!’ to coincide with the Conservative Party Conference.

We joined the Climate and Fracking block and were happy to promote the One Million Climate Jobs pamphlet and campaign as part of the alternative to fracking – and to austerity.  There was a lot of interest in our banner and outfits- and in the new Million Climate Jobs flier . We also distributed some copies of the Campaign Against Climate Change’s Climate News .

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Our bloc was well-attended by anti-fracking campaigners from across the country – with the Lancashire Nanas well represented alongside people from Frack Free Ryedale, Frack Free Scarborough and, among others, Frack Free Wiltshire!

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Theresa May has distanced herself from a number of policies promoted by Cameron and Osborne. So far, fracking hasn’t been one of them. Just a few weeks into her premiership, she suggested that payments could be made to local communities affected by fracking. Some have called this a bribe.

Theresa May’s commitment to ratify the Paris Climate Agreement ten days before the protest is welcome. However, there are so far no signs that she intends to reverse backtracking on climate policies that Cameron and Osborne presided over in 2015-16. Indeed, one of her first acts was to abolish the Department for Energy and Climate Change.

May’s Government has indicated that it may take a more moderate approach to austerity itself, with Chancellor Philip Hammond announcing that the Government has abandoned George Osborne’s 2020 surplus target, thereby allowing for greater investment.

The demonstration included many good speeches and conversations between campaigners. There’s media coverage in the Daily Mirror plus many photos and film clips on the People’s Assembly facebook.

For us, one the highlights was an impromtu demonstration outside Barclays Bank – 97% owner of Third Energy who intend to frack Ryedale – that was passed on the route.

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This was a precursor, no doubt, to many protests that will be taking place nationwide during the Stop Barclays Fracking week at the end of October.

It’s also expected that during October Sajid Javid will decide on – and probably accept – Cuadrilla’s appeal against the Lancashire block on its plans.

No doubt 2 October was the beginning of what will be an important month in fracking protests.

 “The government has tried to sweeten the fracking pill with cash payments before, and it didn’t work. Over the last two years, public opposition has soared and support for shale has tanked. People’s concerns about climate change and their local environment cannot be silenced with a wad of cash.

“You can’t put a price on the quality of the air you breathe, the water you drink, and the beauty of our countryside. If Theresa May wants to show the UK is open for business, she should reverse the policies that have harmed our vibrant clean-energy sector and back the technologies that can supply cheap, home-grown energy for decades to come.”

Doug Parr, Greenpeace UK chief scientist

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