Knutsford- believed by some to be named after Cnut/Canute- might not be Paris but did provide GJ Manchester and supporters with a significant venue for a solidarity demonstration at the end of the COP21. It seemed our social media announcement had been picked up by the Police as we were met by a modest presence of PCSO and constable who just happened to be standing around in the rain for no obvious reason.
Difficulties finding an iconic and relevant target where there would be significant foot-fall on the right day in Manchester led us to decide to invite others to come out of town with us to where George Osborne has his constituency office with a message asking him to recognise as Canute did that you can’t ignore or boss nature- though you can mess it up with fracking, subsidies to fossil fuel companies, and irresponsible corporate exploitation.
Some participants dressed in red and had produced their own placards whilst others dressed as businessmen to oppose them and turned up in continuous rain which put a damper on deploying our giant prop, the “grim reaper”.
George wasn’t in when we called- though a couple of eastern European cleaners were getting the Conservative Club ready for a letting that evening so we focused on being seen by passing traffic. We were also seen by enthusiasts for high-performance sports cars who were gathered across the street at the McLaren showrooms where some rather expensive machines were being shown off. We resisted the temptation to pick a squabble and stayed on message- being rewarded by Stavros Lynch from Ireland who had come to see the cars.
He shot a spontaneous film and interviewed three of us, subsequently posting it on his facebook page (Stavros969) and letting us know where to find it. (It can be seen on facebook.com/GlobalJusticeManchester/.) This was great as the expected photographic support hadn’t shown up and we were scratching to get materials with a couple of us having to come out of the protest line-up to take snaps.
There were few pedestrians near us so we offered copies of the COP21 Times to drivers stopping at the roundabout and after a couple of hours packed up to go home, dropping a copy of the paper through the Constituency Office letterbox.
- We worked with several folk from other organisations (only 3 GJM were there!) who may become involved in GJN.
- We took the concerns outside the safety of anti-Tory Manchester to a safe Tory seat.
- We got picked up by a non-campaigner blogger who published a vid that will be seen by those not involved.
- Lack of preparation for being filmed and editing means the message was sub-optimal.
- Lack of pick-up into mainstream media- though we had a letter about “Red Lines” published that day in the Manchester Evening News.
- Not clear if any particular message got through to anyone with influence over the government.
Moral: If you don’t get it right, do what you can, and have another go afterwards, learning from the experience!