Real Media returned to speak with Professor Peter Cole and artist, Marko, who have been on hunger strike for 25 days outside the Conservative headquarters, requesting to meet with senior figures to discuss supporting a proposed Three Demands Bill, which would lay the path to a Citizen’s Assembly on Climate Change and the Ecological Emergency.
Despite the huge sacrifice of these two men, not a single party official or politician has engaged with the protesters other than a cursory greeting. On election night, before ending their hunger strike, they waited for Boris Johnson to return to the office in the hope he might speak with them. He didn’t.
More than 200 election candidates across the political spectrum have pledged to support the bill, but these included just one Conservative, and no-one from the Brexit party.
A new letter went out to party leaders during the week (see below) signed by various figures including Lily Cole, Mark Rylance, Chris Packham, and Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall.
The only party leader who fully engaged with the hunger strikers was Adam Price from Plaid Cymru – even the Greens couldn’t find the time for a leaders’ meeting, instead sending other officials.
Earlier this month, the UN Secretary General stated:
“In the crucial 12 months ahead, it is essential that we secure more ambitious national commitments – particularly from the main emitters – to immediately start reducing greenhouse gas emissions… We simply have to stop digging and drilling and take advantage of the vast possibilities offered by renewable energy and nature-based solutions.”
The Conservative manifesto was low on necessary commitments, instead stating “we believe that free markets, innovation and prosperity can protect the planet”. Parliament declared a Climate and Environmental Emergency last May, but it has not resulted in any commensurate action. With so many Tory donors linked to fossil fuels and climate denial, it’s hard to imagine there will be any real progress without massive public pressure.
Full text of Hunger Strike support letter:
Dear Boris Johnson, Jeremy Corbyn and Jo Swinson,
We urge you in the name of all that is honourable and good to meet with Extinction Rebellion’s Hunger Strikers before they complete four weeks on hunger strike, with grave risks to their health and lives.
The brave strikers first wrote to you on 14th November asking for a meeting to discuss the Climate and Ecological Emergency Bill: a piece of legislation which exists – is “oven-ready” – and addresses the greatest threat humanity has ever faced. More than 215 candidates from your parties (13 parties in total) have pledged their support for the Bill, so to not meet with hunger strikers is immoral and bizarre.
In their letter they set out their intention to hunger strike outside your party head office until you meet them because this Emergency is so very urgent – so urgent that Parliament declared an Climate and Environmental Emergency on 1st May and gave itself 6 months to act. That 6 month deadline came and went without any commensurate action. This Bill is an appropriate response to that inaction and requires your attention.
True to their word, since 18th November Hunger Strikers have indeed sat outside your offices every day asking for this meeting. The Emergency cannot be ignored, and neither can they.
In a democracy – and in an election period – it is right and proper that the leaders of parties seeking to govern us should be accountable, responsive and transparent.
We appreciate that you are busy but their request is for just one hour, at the time and location you choose, to discuss this Bill.
The science is clear: we must act decisively and swiftly. The UN Secretary General has said we have just 12 months to turn emissions around. Business as usual means death, we are on course for societal collapse due to failed harvests. This #ClimateElection will select the government which must tackle the Emergency.
Polls show that most votes will be influenced by parties’ responses to the climate and ecological emergency, with 85% of voters concerned about climate change and 52% very concerned (Ipsos Mori Aug 2019).
So we urge you to meet them,
Lily Cole (model, actress, entrepreneur)
Mark Rylance (actor)
Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall (chef, author)
Chris Packham (tv presenter)
George Monbiot (journalist, author)
Oliver Ford Davies (Olivier award winning actor)
Jenny Armitage (actor)
Madalena Alberto (musical actor)
Dr. Rob Hopkins (founder Transition Towns, author)
James Brown (paralympic Gold medallist, world record holder)
Dr. Larch Maxey (author, activist)
Etienne Stott (London 2012 Gold medallist)
Angel Coulby (actor)
Ramon Salgado-Touzon (curator)
Daniel Lismore (artist)
Peter Tatchell, (human rights campaigner)
Shaun Chamberlin (author)
Christopher Sheppard (film producer)
Maria Chenoweth (CEO, Traid)
Nick Taussig (film producer, Salon Pictures)
Billie Mobayed (model, human rights campaigner, entrepreneur)
Klina Jordan (co-founder Make Votes Matter)
Eddie Kidd OBE (daredevil legend, disability rights campaigner)
Benjamin Zephaniah (poet)
Keith Tyrell (Director, Pesticide Action Network UK)
Professor Terry Crowe Semier ( artist, activist)