Stopping New Coal: Speakers’ Corner

YES to Just Transition and Climate Jobs – NO to the Whitehaven coalmine!

Fig. 1 – Some of those at Saturday’s event

Allan Todd writes:

On Saturday 22 July, around 80 people – from trade unions and local campaign groups – gathered at the site of the proposed coal mine in Whitehaven, to hear a range of speakers talk about climate jobs for Cumbria, how to fight for a just transition for the area as an alternative to the coal mine, and about the Climate Crisis in general. This took place as, for the first time, a heatwave affected countries right across the Global North, from North America to Europe – triggering floods, life-threatening temperatures, droughts and forest wildfires.

Fig. 2 – Too hot to holiday?!

Joseph Healy – a Principal Speaker for Left Unity, and a member of Unite the Union – was one of the speakers. The other main speakers were:

· Ellen Robottom – CACCTU/Unite the Union

· Martin Sleath – Unison Cumbria Environmental Officer

· Willie Black – Scot E3 and Unite the Union (Employment, Energy and Environment)

· Dr Gail Bradbrook – Co-founder of XR and daughter of a coal miner

· Markus Campbell-Savours – Labour Party councillor, and Unite the Union

· Fliss Premru – TSSA/ CACCTU

Fig. 3 – Clara leading some Climate Chanting!

This was the third Speakers’ Corner event at the site, and was brilliantly compered by Clara Paillard (XR Trade Union, Unite and Tipping Point UK), who began proceedings by playing back recordings made by some of the increasing number of Climate Breakdown victims in the Global South.

Videos of the day

For those who unable to get to the event, below are some short video clips (in more-or-less the correct order, as Eric Morecambe would say!) of some of the speeches, courtesy of Tina Rothery of the Anti-Fracking Nanas:

The Nanas’ cavalry are on the way(!):

The day begins:

Clara Paillard (Tipping Point UK/ Unite) – Voices from Global South

Willie Black (Scot E3/Unite):

Gail Bradbrook (Co-founder of XR):

Markus Campbell-Savours (Labour Party councillor/Unite):

Joseph Healey (Left Unity/Unite):

Some short extracts from some of the speeches

Joseph Healy (Left Unity and Unite) said:

“The current wildfires in Greece and Russia is the ‘stand-still’ situation. Even if we stop things now, we’re going to be faced with this climate reality for quite a long time. Bob Watson, the former head of the IPCC, said this week that possibly we may have already gone beyond the 1.5C tipping point…Scientists and health experts say there are 22 potential viruses which are capable of wreaking havoc – and many of them could be much worse than Covid, which impacted much more on ethnic minorities and frontline workers. Many of these zoonotic viruses and diseases are actually dependent on the climate.”

Gail Bradbrook (Extinction Rebellion) said:

“People are being sent to jail for mentioning climate change in court, [yet] we are actually facing collapse. We have to meet these times together. What really matters is that we’re talking to each other, and that communities do not allow the ‘divide-and-rule’ that’s being wound around climate protests to take a hold here….It’s all rooted in an extractive economic system that’s destroying life on Earth. So, as my favourite uncle used to say: ‘Don’t let the bastards grind you down!’”

Fig. 4 – A coalminer’s daughter: Dr. Gail Bradbrook (XR)

Willie Black (Scot E3/Unite) said:

“We are part of the mass of people who want to resist and create a new future…In the Edinburgh Evening News [on 21 July], a family from Edinburgh had decided to come back early from their holiday in Greece, because they were trapped in their hotel, which was an oven; they were trapped because they couldn’t go out. Can you imagine the people who’re living there now? It’s important that we’re in solidarity with the Global South, that we’re in solidarity with the refugees. What we’re talking about is a world in which we share the world…There are no wages or conditions on a dead planet. Floods and heat and burning forests are going on right now: we are at a pinnacle point.”

Fig. 5 – Let’s call the next extreme weather event ‘Storm Shell’!

‘Be there – or be square!!

Don’t despair if you haven’t been able to get to any of our Speakers’ Corners so far – there are still 4 more to come later this year!! so come and join us – and bring some friends!

The dates are:

· Saturday 9 September

· Tuesday 24 October

· Saturday 18 November

· Friday 8 December

And confirmed speakers so far include:

· Anne Harris: Coal Action Network

· Graham Peterson: Greener Jobs Alliance

· Rob Marsden: Red Green Labour/Anti-Capitalist Resistance

· Natalie Bennett: Green Party peer & former Leader

· Steve Masters: Green Party councillor

There will also be speakers from Global Justice Now; the Weald Action Group; and XR North Lakes.

Further information:

· For more information about the campaign to stop the Cumbria mine, see:

· A Cumbria Action for Sustainability (CAfS) Report (2021) shows that the county could benefit from 9,000 new jobs in industries ranging from renewable energy and construction to transport. Almost half of these would be in West Cumbria.


Allan Todd is a member of Left Unity’s National Council and of ACR’s Council, and an ecosocialist/environmental and anti-fascist activist. He is the author of Revolutions 1789-1917 and Trotsky: The Passionate Revolutionary – and the forthcoming Che Guevara: The Romantic Revolutionary

Left Unity is active in movements and campaigns across the left, working to create an alternative to the main political parties.

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