Breaking news 13 March – seems EDF have F’D OFF and bottled the court action for damages. See ‘EDF in dramatic climbdown’.
Ever since the labour movement of the 1970’s posed the question of ‘power’ to the political elite & boss class, successive Thatcherite governments have sort to crush union power, or at least tie the unions up in legal knots and with financial threats. They have largely succeeded, and must be emboldened by the relatively weak response to the Coalition government’s politically motivated austerity measures resulting in job threats & losses, and pay freezes.
However whilst the potential power of organised labour has lain fairly dormant and unused, opposition to austerity and corporate domination has tended to come from community and activist campaigns, with some success. Whilst numerous laws, and the reality of arrest & prison, have been used to intimidate campaigns, they remain an ongoing thorn in the side of power of capital and the state, with the potential to go further. So no doubt with one eye on potential struggles ahead, we can expect new or not often used measures to be tried on by corporations and the state.
One option is to nobble campaigns financially, or to directly threaten individual activists financially & with the courts. Campaigns can be derailed by costly court cases and the risk of losing, individuals can be tied up by complicated & costly legal processes and threatenened with finacial ruin and/or imprisonment. It has been tried before, not always successfully, and most famously in the McLibel 2 case – whilst this proved counter-productive for McDonalds, it was at some cost to the activists involved (and not just financially).
This is what EDF are trying to do by suing the No Dash For Gas campaigners over their occupation. It is a serious threat to campaigns and individuals. Whilst some may disagree with certain campaign tactics, we should all be able to agree on the need to resist this threat – with a wide diversity of tactics, from epetitions to strikes across a full spectrum of resistance! See the No Dash For Gas website/blog for news and campaign ideas and try to get to this meeting in Bristol on Tuesday.