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As all that is solid melts to air and everything holy is profaned...

Thursday, April 07, 2005

Tesco AGM 24 June

Had a phone call today inviting me to Tesco AGM. Not fromTesco though, but Friends of the Earth. FoE have asked Corporate Watch to produce an alternative 'corporate responsibility report' for Tesco. Lucy from Corporate Watch came up for a 24 hour visit a few weeks ago so she could include our campaign in the report.

Bit of an information overload expereince for her, but she was most impressed by 'Green Galloway' and got a few useful interviews. Fun for me, since Lucy explained that she had been a road protestor so we could chat about the bigger picture. I haven't met many road protestors since moving back up here, although I have met a few Greenham women - including Angela who runs Readinglasses bookshop in Wigtown Book Town (well woth a visit) nearby and helped me find several books on Greenham. Including one with a photo of Pinki in it! Tinsel was on a visit at the time and we were both dead impressed.

I haven't blogged it yet, but yet to come is one on Pinki's herstory - from Greenham to Stop the City to the M11 and Bath road protests (she would have done Newbury if she hadn't died). Pinki got arrested at bath and came up with a defence based on international law - that international law was part of English law, that the Uk was in breach of various treaties on air pollution undr international law and that she was acting to prevent a breach of international law...

Her case for 'obstruction' was due to come up in July 94, so we all - six of us, Pinki, me, Sky, Elizabeth, Alistair junior and Callum in his wheelchair- went to Bath for it. It was very hot, the time that the comet hit Jupiter. We were sitting up on Solsbury Hill (as in Peter Gabriel song and possible site of Arthurian Battle of Badon) and could see the line of the road stretching across the valley of the Avon up to about 100 yards away.

As I told Lucy,I realised then that by the time it gets physical, it is too late. The place energy needs to be put is at the planning stage - the place where a road or a supermarket is still just an idea. And that I had applied that insight locally to get a proposal for a motorway link from Dumfries to the M74/ M6 taken out of the Dumfries and Galloway Structure Plan. Nip it in the bud is the moral.

Hasn't worked with the Tesco plan, but then there was nothing about a new supermarket being needed in the Local Plan when it was proposed 4 years ago. It only emerged last year - and thanks to various problems with Scottish Water, the Local Plan is still to be finally approved- up for Public Inquiry later this year.

But to step back even further, spent the last year (96/7) in London sharing a house in new Cross with Tinsel, who was final year student at Goldsmiths College. One of her tutors loaned her a book "Mortgaging the Earth" by Bruce Rich. It is a 500 word critique of the World Bank (International Bank of Investment and Development) development policies - and Rich takes it right back all the way to a critique of Western Rationality - to Descarte, Bacon and Newton... I bought my own copy, it was that good. Must be still there on Amazon, so get one for yourself...

The way I see it, where I live now, 'Green Galloway' is more like a Third World, developing economy than an industrial First World one. NATO reckon so as well - we get regular big military excercises here and back in the late eighties, a general explained why "The dispersed rural population and lack of infrastructure make Galloway the prefect place to practise for Thord World conditions.." or words to that effect..
The Tesco plan is like the big dam idea. It appears that there is a genuine and sincere belief within the local council that a big new supermaket will 'overnight' help transform our 'lagging rural economy' into an ultra modern one ... That 93% of local business employ fewer than 5 people is seen as a major problem... but when we have a population of only 23 000 in an area (about 800 sq miles) the size of greater London, what do you expect?

Cargo cultism, that is what it is. Create the illusion of modernity and you will get it. But it is still an illusion. In reality what you get is a black hole sucking all life and vitality into 'money space' , into the City, to keep Tesco's profit margins high and so keep their share price rising. They have to keep expanding, they have no choice. And the social and environmental costs? Not on the balance sheet mate. Is there an alternative?
Here there is. Look at http://www.creamogalloway.co.uk/ - a local daiary farm which has diversified and gone organic and become a major tourist attraction. Sure, such ideas wouldn't work in Hackney (where I lived for ten years) but this isn't Hackney, it is the countryside.

Enough for now.



Blogger merrick said...

you're right that nipping it in the bud is important, but tree protesters work at that stage too. There's an excellent group called Roadblock who work to co-ordinate, support and empower people at all stages of opposition to the new massive roadbuilding plans, and that means primarily working on the planning stuff.

But there is still a place for the tree-occupation. It puts the issue higher up the polticial agneda, it gets the issues taken into consideration a bit more. The protests of the 90s didn't save Solsbury or Newbury, but they made the government slash the roads budget by two-thirds, saving a lot of other places.

And, occasionally, it did work directly. The Guildford campaign won, and you can walk among the trees of Stringer's Common today in the knowledge they were saved cos the council couldn't afford a full-on eviction and protest.

Governments and larger comapnies will throw money at it, but smaller things like Guildford are vulnerable cos they're council done and the money's tighter.

Regarding the international law thing, it's a defence used time and again by anti-war protesters, especially the Ploughshares people.

The Nuremberg Treaty is quite clear, that in all signatory nations international law takes precendece over national law.

And, as is to be expected when the military and the courts are two arms of the same organisation, every time a protester makes that point they get ignored and found guilty.

9:06 pm  

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