Why is Camp for Climate Action so afraid of delaying ‘ordinary’ holidaymakers?
After several days of collective decision making, the Camp for Climate Action has identified BAA’s office near Heathrow as their main target for today’s direct action. BAA, part of Spanish infrastructure group Ferrovial, owns and operates airports including London Heathrow, Gatwick and Stanstead. The protestors plan to blockade its office from 3pm today until midday tomorrow.
BAA has been singled out because it is planning to build a third runway and a fifth terminal at Heathrow. The Camp has maintained that its quarrel is with BAA and not “the ordinary passenger going on holiday”. “The day of mass action,” said a spokesperson”, “will highlight the appalling impacts of the third runway and lay the blame at the feet of BAA, the corporate profiteer most responsible.”
Partly, of course, this is simply activists’ preference for targeting large corporates, which are symbols of liberal economics and globalisation. But more importantly, the protestors are keen not to get on the wrong side of the ‘ordinary passenger’. Many parts of the media, both indy and mainstream, reflect a general lack of sympathy for any action that delays flights.
Yesterday’s Times: “If the Heathrow climate campers misjudge their day of ‘direct action’ tomorrow, they will incur the lasting wrath not just of the Government and police, but of overstressed holiday makers in one of the world’s most overstressed airports.” (Unusually off-message, a Camp spokesperson replied: “which will be a big worry when the fucking icesheets melt.”)
Or a stroppyblogger last week: “I’m not one of the saddos who have been phoning Radio 5 all day denying the existence of climate change, slagging off hippies or not giving a toss about the environment. But I do have a problem with a flat opposition to air travel without differentiation. I think the fact that many working-class people regularly travel abroad is a Very Good Thing.”
Why were the protestors so keen to go along with this? Of course their quarrel is with ‘ordinary passengers’. The radical end of the green movement, which includes the Camp, should be challenging the notion that it’s OK to take regular flights, rather than reverting to their modus operandi of attacking corporate bogeymen.