EDF lawsuit could have HUGE impact on peaceful protests


10:15 am - February 21st 2013

by Sunny Hundal    


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A civil claim by EDF energy against environmental activists could have huge implications for the future of protests in the UK.

Yesterday, the Guardian reported that EDF Energy has launched a civil claim for damages against a group called No Dash for Gas and other ‘associated activists’ for costs that the company claims to have incurred – a figure it puts at £5 million.

If the claim succeeds several of the campaigners could lose their homes, and all would face bankruptcy or be forced to pay a percentage of their salaries to EDF for decades to come.

This is the first time an energy company has attempted such a claim. It is clearly an attempt to bankrupt and stop peaceful direct action protests.

If successful the same tactics would likely be adopted by other organisations against all forms of direct action and protesting – including Greenpeace, UKuncut and even the Countryside Alliance.

This video explains what the activists are now facing.

The amount EDF are claiming represents just 0.3% of EDF’s annual UK profits, which rose by 7.5% this year to £1.7 billion.

The claims relate to a week-long shut-down and occupation of EDF’s West Burton gas-fired power station last October by No Dash for Gas.

Sixteen campaigners occupied two chimneys at West Burton for a week in October 2012, stopping nearly 20,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions. The activists – 21 in total – were convicted this week of aggravated trespass at Mansfield Magistrates Court.

Activists claim there is evidence that Nottinghamshire Police colluded with EDF against ‘No Dash for Gas’ by formally serving civil papers on the activists after their arrest, and by sharing their personal data with the power company.

When the activists’ lawyer wrote to the police asking to view CCTV footage from inside the station, he was told it had probably been deleted as footage was only kept for three months – despite the fact that this three-month deadline had not yet passed.

The case is reminiscent of the record-breaking ‘McLibel’ case, when the fast food chain McDonalds sued two activists from North London from 1990-1997. That case turned into a huge public relations disaster for McDonalds.

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About the author
Sunny Hundal is editor of LC. Also: on Twitter, at Pickled Politics and Guardian CIF.
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Reader comments


Big business is not even trying to hide it’s brownshirt tendencies these days. And no surprise to see the police acting as private thugs for big business.

Roll out the guillotines because the 1% are fast reaching their Versailles moment.

It’s called being held responsible for your actions. You can hold a non violent protest without shutting down a business for a week or costing £5m.

I find it amazing that a group could cost a company £5m and then whine when they’re sued. Who gives a damn what percentage of their annual profits is represents? It’s £5m. 0.3% of my annual wages is around £100. Are you saying that if a protester cost me £100 I should sit back and say “oh well, it’s their right to protest”.

Ridiculous. I don’t want to see anyone get financially ruined by this, but I sure as hell don’t want them walking off thinking they can mess with people’s jobs and lives with no possible consequences.

As John above says….

A peaceful prtoest would suggest no damages occured.

By shutting down EDFs plant, they suffered material damages.

QED.

This case has nothing to do with the right to protest.

Yea the need for people to take responsibility for their actions is very important. Unless you are a corporate thug.

” In the case of Baker v. Exxon, an Anchorage jury awarded $287 million for actual damages and $5 billion for punitive damages. The punitive damages amount was equal to a single year’s profit by Exxon at that time. [citation needed] To protect itself in case the judgment was affirmed, Exxon obtained a $4.8 billion credit line from J.P. Morgan & Co. J.P. Morgan created the first modern credit default swap in 1994, so that Morgan’s would not have to hold as much money in reserve (8% of the loan under Basel I) against the risk of Exxon’s default. [30]

Meanwhile, Exxon appealed the ruling, and the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ordered the original judge, Russel Holland, to reduce the punitive damages. On December 6, 2002, the judge announced that he had reduced the damages to $4 billion, which he concluded was justified by the facts of the case and was not grossly excessive. Exxon appealed again and the case returned to court to be considered in light of a recent Supreme Court ruling in a similar case, which caused Judge Holland to increase the punitive damages to $4.5 billion, plus interest.

After more appeals, and oral arguments heard by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals on January 27, 2006, the damages award was cut to $2.5 billion on December 22, 2006. The court cited recent Supreme Court rulings relative to limits on punitive damages.

Exxon appealed again. On May 23, 2007, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals denied ExxonMobil’s request for a third hearing and let stand its ruling that Exxon owes $2.5 billion in punitive damages. Exxon then appealed to the Supreme Court, which agreed to hear the case. [31] On February 27, 2008, the Supreme Court heard oral arguments for 90 minutes. Justice Samuel Alito, who at the time, owned between $100,000 and $250,000 in Exxon stock, recused himself from the case. [32] In a decision issued June 25, 2008, Justice David Souter issued the judgment of the court, vacating the $2.5 billion award and remanding the case back to a lower court, finding that the damages were excessive with respect to maritime common law. Exxon’s actions were deemed “worse than negligent but less than malicious.” [33] The judgment limits punitive damages to the compensatory damages, which for this case were calculated as $507.5 million. [34] The basis for limiting punitive damages to no more than twice [clarification needed] the actual damages has no precedent to support it. [citation needed] Some lawmakers, such as Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick J. Leahy, have decried the ruling as “another in a line of cases where this Supreme Court has misconstrued congressional intent to benefit large corporations.” [35]

Exxon’s official position is that punitive damages greater than $25 million are not justified because the spill resulted from an accident, and because Exxon spent an estimated $2 billion cleaning up the spill and a further $1 billion to settle related civil and criminal charges. Attorneys for the plaintiffs contended that Exxon bore responsibility for the accident because the company “put a drunk in charge of a tanker in Prince William Sound.”

Corporate thugs love to use and abuse the legal system. But then when the judges are put on the bench by their political puppets, there is no justice.

what ought the limits be on the costs protesters can inflict on firms they don’t like?

suppose people who dislike wind turbines start destroying them, for instance? Or temporarily shut them down somehow.

but whilst I think these questions are awkward, I don’t think protesters ought to be liable for all costs they impose on others whilst protesting. There has to be some scope to disrupt commercial activities (strikes, consumer boycotts etc.) I just can’t imagine what legislation defining allowable disruption could look like.

“There has to be some scope to disrupt commercial activities (strikes, consumer boycotts etc.) I just can’t imagine what legislation defining allowable disruption could look like.”

I can. For example, unions have an exemption from legal liability for losses caused by properly voted on and thus legal strikes. They do not have such an exemption for wildcat strikes which the unions organises/supports.

Conmsumer boycotts: there is no legal presumption that you must spend your money in a certain manner. Therefore not doing so cannot be damages.

And as to the basic point: yes, if you cause someone else a loss you should be liable for that loss. If you punch someone so that they cannot work you are indeed liable for their lost wages. If you blockade someone so they cannot work you are similarly responsible for their lost wages. As it should be.

Employers aren’t obliged to pay strikers – those particular protesters do face a loss for that form of protest.

I don’t see why protesters should be free to inflict material loss on a company with impunity. Inclined to agree with John @2. Of course from a PR point of viw EDF might like to reconsider.

I don’t see why police are involved at all in a civil action.

The situation with E.ON is far worse in my mind: the lobbying of Government ministers to interfere with the criminal justice system.

@ Sally

You clearly don’t understand do you. I know it’s hard for you but do try and follow how the legal argument works.

In the case above, an Exxon tanker had a spill and damage was caused.

You will, I hope note:

“Exxon spent an estimated $2 billion cleaning up the spill and a further $1 billion to settle related civil and criminal charges.”

So Exxon had made injured parties whole. The basis for the further claim was as a fine/punitive damages. Having repaired or compensated for the damage they caused Exxon were perfectly withing their rights to argue the 5bn for punitive damages was out of proportion. Indeed they did, through the normal processes of the law.

You will also notice that the judge who *did* have a financial interest in the case recused himself, and a judge with no financial interest passed judgement. That some Senators decided that judge got it wrong doesn’t by themselves make it right.

Now, what this Exxon case has to do with the article above I don’t know. You don’t seem to understand the point of the article, or where it goes wrong though.

So let’s explain in terms you understand.

Let’s say you set up the Sally Socialist party, and you buy some office space to run it from. Your Marxist policies of hate and envy disgust me, so I then with a few like-minded people decide to protest outside your office.

We make a few placards and a website, and set up outside your office, making sure not to obstruct members of the public or personally harrass your staff. In all senses a peaceful protest and employing our right to freedom of speach.

Then, a loose cannon amongst our group decides to take matters too far, barricades your office door shut and throws a brick through the window of your office.

Firstly, you will have suffered material damages – the cost to fix your window. You will also have suffered material loss because barricading the door shut has prevented you from going about the normal course of your business. Your staff might also feel threatened and intimidated.

This is the loss EDF has suffered, and are claiming for.

What you seem unable to grasp is that freedom of speech and the right to protest doesn’t extend to the right to damage property or business, or to intimidate people.

Tim

As it should be.

it depends whether you think consumer choice, democracy and legislation are satisfactory mechanisms for change. If you think that in addition to those mechanisms, we want to allow protesters some scope for apply pressure to firms to get them to change their ways, then we might want to allow some sort of scope for protesters to impose costs on firms without liability. It’s not obvious that the best thing for society would be to shut down such form of protest.

You are often sceptical about the machinations of politics and bureaucracies, I think that scepticism ought to extend to corporations and lawyers, and you should be a little less Panglossian about “legitimate business” and open to the possibility that consumer choice, democracy and legislation are sometimes weak mechanisms for change with too much scope for firms to do “bad things” protected by the state and legal system, and you may want to allow some other avenues of citizen pressure (i.e. protests that impose costs on firms)

The police have been quietly trying for years to transfer the costs of policing protests onto the protesters.
Won’t be long now till your rights are good up until the point you choose to exercise them.

The case is reminiscent of the record-breaking ‘McLibel’ case, when the fast food chain McDonalds sued two activists from North London from 1990-1997. That case turned into a huge public relations disaster for McDonalds.

The McLibel case was about leafleting – not occupation. That was a clearcut case of freedom of expression.

“What you seem unable to grasp is that freedom of speech and the right to protest doesn’t extend to the right to damage property or business, or to intimidate people.”

This. Precisely this.

Oh, and not only are these idiots damaging EDF’s business, if they had their way our energy bills would be even higher than they are already going to be.

But you won’t find me blocking their front doors – though, under their own rules of engagement I assume they would be perfectly fine with that?

Oh I understand alright . The rich and corporate thugs buy the justice they want. No matter how long it takes, no matter how much it costs. They just keep appealing and appealing until they get what they want. There is no such thing as independent judiciary, as there is no such thing as free market. It’s all lies.

You are the one who doesn’t understand. But then as a corporate butler troll your only purpose is to serve your corporate masters.

When are we going to see bankers languishing in jail for the damage they have done? You know criminal responsibility that you are so ken on? The answer of course is never, because laws are not for the rich.

This lawsuit is a perfectly well-founded damages claim. Intentionally causing material damage to someone else is not “peaceful protest”.

As to why the police was involved, the “activists … were convicted this week of aggravated trespass at Mansfield Magistrates Court” should give you a hint.

Let’s respect the definition of peaceful protesting and freedom of expression – and not allow thuggery to creep in.

Gallbladder,

As to why the police was involved, the “activists … were convicted this week of aggravated trespass at Mansfield Magistrates Court” should give you a hint.

That’s not the civil action under discussion – that was a criminal prosecution.

16. the a&e charge nurse

[14] ‘Let’s respect the definition of peaceful protesting and freedom of expression – and not allow thuggery to creep in’ – dream on, we all know dubious legislation is used more often to criminalise pensioners, rather than terrorists – and often the worse thugs are those enforcing the, err law.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bUsNQkV6o04

“When are we going to see bankers languishing in jail for the damage they have done? You know criminal responsibility that you are so ken on? The answer of course is never, because laws are not for the rich.”

Quite. The serial liar Tyler seems less worried about this for some reason.

This lawsuit is a perfectly well-founded damages claim. Intentionally causing material damage to someone else is not “peaceful protest”.

This is a silly argument and misunderstands the point.

They didn’t cause any material damage – it was a peaceful protest. EDF are also charging them for ‘policing’ the event.

Clearly some of you didn’t bother reading the story or watching the video before commenting.

This means a protest like UKuncut’s – where no damage was done – could still lead to people getting sued. The likes of Fathers4Justice could get sued; Countryside Alliance could get sued for any sort of disruption.

I don’t have to explain what sort of impact this would have on any peaceful direct action. But I suspect those of you defending this action don’t do any activism yourself.

@12

Physical damage is covered by both civil and criminal law. But you seem to be arguing that companies have a right to sue in cases where protests cause a loss of profits. Does that mean that you agree that it should be possible to take legal action against a person or organization who calls for a boycott of a particular company?

Corporations are now the biggest threat to freedom we face. They are run, by right wing neo fascists, who have psychotic tendencies, and a sense of greed that is insatiable. Shutting down freedom and democracy are now part of their policy. And they will spend whatever it takes.

21. Luis Enrique

Sunny if you shut down a construction site of a week are you causing material damage. I don’t think the way to approach this problem is to pretend the protests didn’t cost EDF money.

Sunny,

They didn’t cause any material damage – it was a peaceful protest. EDF are also charging them for ‘policing’ the event.

Clearly some of you didn’t bother reading the story or watching the video before commenting.

I think Tyler has confused people by using “material damage” instead of “material losses”. The article says there was “a week-long shut-down and occupation”. It is difficult to see how EDF didn’t suffer a material loss – they couldn’t conduct their business.

don’t have to explain what sort of impact this would have on any peaceful direct action. But I suspect those of you defending this action don’t do any activism yourself.

We’re trying to discuss whether protesters should be free to interfere with other people’s businesses with impunity. What do you say? If I obstructed you from your business somehow – because I don’t like your politics or whatever – you would be fine with that because I am exercising my freedom to protest?

Halloway,

Physical damage is covered by both civil and criminal law. But you seem to be arguing that companies have a right to sue in cases where protests cause a loss of profits. Does that mean that you agree that it should be possible to take legal action against a person or organization who calls for a boycott of a particular company?

I’m sure cjcc can answer for himself but that doesn’t follow. As Tim W said, there is no obligation to spend money with a particular company, so they can’t pursue you from any losses they claim to have suffered from a boycott. On the other hand if I occupied my local supermarket and prevented them from doing business for a week, why shouldn’t they sue me for a week’s worth of business?

@15: “That’s not the civil action under discussion – that was a criminal prosecution.”

Are you saying that police should not help victims of crime in the ways they do – for instance, by telling them who to sue for damages, and by serving papers to criminals after arrest?

24. the a&e charge nurse

[22] ‘We’re trying to discuss whether protesters should be free to interfere with other people’s businesses with impunity. What do you say?’ – yes, is the short answer if the moral argument is strong enough – we cannot rely on the law alone.

Bad laws have always existed and this question (degree of interference) needs to be considered on a case by case basis – in this particular instance I do not know enough about the protestors concerns to judge if they have got the balance right – I do know that the law generally favours the rich when certain arguments are put before a court.

yes is the short answer if I happen to agree with them

otherwise no

This is a silly argument and misunderstands the point.

They didn’t cause any material damage – it was a peaceful protest.

Terrific, a LibCon legal thread.

Trespass is a tort (a non-contractual ‘wrong’). No Dash for Gas have been convicted of aggravated trespass. Damages in tort are designed to put the injured party where he would have been if the tort had not been committed. In this case, the tort caused the shut-down of the plant for a week, costing EDF all the revenue that would otherwise have been earned (less the reduction in operating cost, hence ‘profit’).

EDF are also charging them for ‘policing’ the event.

Well duh. No Dash for Gas’s illegal act caused further loss to EDF in additional security. NDG are clearly liable for these losses.

I’m sure that a judge will reduce the total damages payable, but unless there’s more to come out, this looks pretty straightforward. Maybe people looking to damage companies they don’t like should have a think about the likely consequences of their actions?

Protests which do not disrupt are ineffective. End of story. Strikes only work in so far as they disrupt; absent disruption, there is no leverage.

Protests only work in so far as they disrupt. Which is why the vast amount of anti-capitalist protesting over the last 20 years has achieved precisely fuck all. The Climate Campers, and then the Occupy movement, were crushed as violently and comprehensively as they were precisely because they looked like they might be able to disrupt the status quo if given long enough; can’t have that. The law has been used to define any disruptive, i.e. any effective/em>, protest as illegal, unacceptable or, now, extortionately expensive. And this is by no means the first time financial pressure has been used to silence dissent.

Ultimately the question isn’t about whether protests are legitimate or whether companies (and governments!) whose policies incur protests against them should be protected; the question is whether we think protests are an arena bloodsport, like the X-Factor and Jerry Springer, or a representative political tool like strike action.

If the former, then the argument that EDF are allowed to sue for damages is entirely reasonable. The protesters overstepped the mark from entertaining to effective. Bread and circuses only works if the lions routinely win.

If, however, you think protests should be a political tool then this presents a bit of a problem; protests are only effective if they disrupt. If they don’t, why should anyone give a fuck, let alone substantively change corporate or government policy in response? Cf. the anti-Iraq protest movement and their total failure to do anything other than entertain.

My view is that in any polity, protests are inevitable. Somewhere on the spectrum from the We Like Killing Foxes kind of protest to the French Revolution kind of protest, passing through Gandhi and company on the way, people who don’t like what you’re doing are going to want to shout at you. If they really don’t like it they might throw stuff. Always have, always will; and if it goes on long enough, the best you can hope for is that they don’t set your city on fire.

So the argument isn’t about whether protests will happen; it’s about whether they’re going to be a game or a weapon.

(NB: while I’m here, I’d like to wave to Sunny, Shatterface and UKLibetry, who may remember me from a few years back under the psudonym John Q. Publican)

Physical damage is covered by both civil and criminal law. But you seem to be arguing that companies have a right to sue in cases where protests cause a loss of profits.

Would depend on whether the protests were legal or not. A consumer boycott is unarguably legal, so there’s no ‘wrong’ to sue under. Smashing up premises is unarguably illegal, so the damages would entail both the costs of repairs and the lost profit.

But this is all a well-established area of law. In Barclays Bank v Jones, the defendant refused to vacate a room in a flat belonging to the claimant. This meant that the claimant couldn’t rent out the flat. Damages were assessed on the lost rental income.

To improve the shining hour, this sort of case tends to lead to a right to aggravated damages – ie: higher than usual – because the damage stems from “culpable and unattractive conduct of the defendant”.

TimJ: I think the lefty argument here isn’t about the current law so much as the implications of such law for democracy. If you can’t disrupt someone’s business, private or government, then you have zero leverage and might as well go home; it’s easy for a cynical lefty to portray that as the point.

At what point does disruptive protest become damaging and dangerous? There’s lots of arguments around this point, so I’m just going to state an opinion; at the point of human violence.

Break a window? Protest. Occupy a power station or a public park? Protest. Egg John Prescott? Protest. Climb the Cenotaph, disrupting traffic? Protest.

Hit a newspaper vendor from behind with a long baton? Set an inhabited building on fire? Kidnap someone’s kid? Firebomb an abortion clinic or a synagogue? Shoot a bunch of Sikhs because you’re too dumb to tell the difference between them and Muslims? Human violence. Dangerous and damaging.

I understand why the Scotch Cattle and Ludd’s Lads enforced early unionisation with violence; when the bosses came for them back then, they came with cavalry sabres and horses. Protest has grown past human violence, but the idea that protest should be banned from disrupting is simply spin on the idea that protest should be ignored.

@ Shatterface

I might be wrong, but the McDonalds case was not only leafletting – it also involved on-premises protest and intimidation of customers.

@ UKliberty

You are correct – I did conflate material damage and material losses, though both are very similar in the face of the law. In this case, EDF suffered no physical *damage* to their business infrastructure, but by being prevented from conducting their usual business operations they suffered *losses*.

Also, the burden of proof for civil and criminal cases are different. My dear lawyer girlfriend, who specialises in civil litigation, informs me that for criminal all you really have to prove is the crime was committed, but for civil you have to prove the actual extent of loss or damage suffered. Technical point, but it does matter in legal terms, which is why I assume many of these cases proceed down the civil path.

@ Sunny

“peaceful direct action”

This sounds suspiciously like an oxymoron. Direct action suggests interjecting in a business with the intention of disrupting it. That, by definition, is not “peaceful” in the eyes of the law. The EDF example holds well here – the protesters by their action caused loss to EDFs business. it’s not legal to do that – and nor should it be.

Peaceful action would involve action not directly affecting the target, instead trying to affect them indirectly. For example, protests, information campaigns etc which allow the 3rd party/consumer to change their course of action.

What I think Sunny means by “peaceful direct action” is not actually hitting someone or trashing their offices etc.

Let me ask you a question Sunny: If I got a hacker to bring down the LC website, would that be “peaceful direct action?”

“They didn’t cause any material damage”

Yes they did. They caused the business to shut down and lose money.

“This means a protest like UKuncut’s – where no damage was done – could still lead to people getting sued. The likes of Fathers4Justice could get sued; Countryside Alliance could get sued for any sort of disruption.”

Yes they could, but in civil cases the claimant would have to prove the extent of the losses incurred. Often it’s not worth the hassle or the legal fees, but in the EDF case it’s pretty easy to calculate how much loss the disruption caused them.

@ Sally

Where do i start?

“Oh I understand alright”

Clearly you don’t.

“When are we going to see bankers languishing in jail for the damage they have done?”

A few are, but getting it wrong and losing money is not a crime. By the same extent, and your logic, Gordon Brown should also be in jail.

“They are run, by right wing neo fascists, who have psychotic tendencies, and a sense of greed that is insatiable. Shutting down freedom and democracy are now part of their policy.”

Last time I checked, capitlalism was very much a democratic state of affairs. It was communism and socialism which are famous for lack of democracy and freedom.

Please keep taking your anti-pschotics. I don’t want anyone to be held responsible when you deicde the whole world is some corporate conspiracy, pick up a knife and get a bit stabby with it.

cjcj @25: That’s quite possibly the most direct and honest answer this thread will see at any point ;)

At what point does disruptive protest become damaging and dangerous? There’s lots of arguments around this point, so I’m just going to state an opinion; at the point of human violence.

No a false distinction, violence is an obvious wrong but damage can be just as grievous, if it destroys someone’s livelihood or peace of mind it can even be worse than some kinds of violence. That’s why we have the law, to decide the degree of damage and the necessary punishment and/or compensation, the principle is really very simple and no amount of obfuscation and special pleading should be allowed to obscure it.
If you feel strongly enough about something to break the law or cause loss of income to someone in protest then have the courage to face the consequences, another simple concept, there’s no exemption for moral righteousness.

Break a window? Protest. Occupy a power station or a public park? Protest. Egg John Prescott? Protest. Climb the Cenotaph, disrupting traffic? Protest.

That’s a bit too arbitrary for my taste. Where a protest (or an act in general) is illegal, the perpetrators have a responsibility to pay for the costs they have caused. Where it isn’t illegal, they don’t.

“If you punch someone so that they cannot work you are indeed liable for their lost wages”

But in this case all you have to do is hire atos to defend you and you’ll get away with it.

35. christhegoth

They shut down a powerstation. Of course that endangers life. You can’t just dive in and do this kind of thing.

The station will support things like hospitals and old people in their homes. Even with the National Grid that action/ occupation could have caused power shortages. And that can mean death for the little old dear linked up to the life saving equipment in her home. It really is this serious.

I’m all for peaceful protest, but this lot are stupid & irresponsible. They deserve this. Seriously.

In fact they’re lucky it’s not a criminal action and should stop bleating.

@christhegoth

36. the a&e charge nurse

I for one will not sleep soundly until the energy corporation get their money back, because this is definitely about money, and not about setting an expensive legal precedent to deter would be protestors.

Chris Nadan @31 – you are being far too modest – your post @27 encapsulates the wider issues very succinctly.

Why oh why can’t the energy protestors stand outside a fence with a placard like other pointless demos, unless the police decide they are infringing one Tony’s terrorist laws of course (oh, the irony).

*waves @ Chris Naden* yeah of course I remember, good to see you commenting.

Gallbladder @23, forgive me, fair point, I didn’t put two and two together.


@people against the company for using: no-one here for ‘their right to sue’ has suggested they should automatically win and/or get all the money they are claiming.

using^W suing

You call this a peaceful protest, but a protest that involves trespass is not peaceful – it is a protest designed to sabotage economic activity.

The activists are confusing civil disobedience, lawful protest and sabotage.

Civil disobedience is where you openly disobey a law you believe to be unjust, and take the consequences, civil or criminal, of doing so. E.g. Martin Luther King and Gandhi were willing to go to jail.

Lawful protest is where you deploy lawful means such as letter writing, leafletting, approved demonstrations, to show your opposition to a law or activity.

Sabotage is where you use unlawful means to interfere with the activities of people you oppose.

These activists are trying to colour sabotage as civil disobedience and, worse, saying that it is also lawful protest so they shouldn’t be liable for the consequences.

Well, you are liable for the consequences – that’s the very point of civil disobedience. And if you sabotage and get caught, then you can hardly complain about being made to pay. The exception is lawful protest – but this was not a lawful protest.

Of course, the corrolary is that if you are part of a wider movement, then that movement should step in and help you pay any costs. E.g. like when that old guy shot the burglars who were breaking into his shed and was ordered to pay them damages, and newspapers ran a campaign to cover the legal costs and damages.

@27 “Protests only work in so far as they disrupt.”

They work perfectly well in cases where they actually enjoy the support of people, once the protest has made things public. If a company behaves atrociously, a protest will make it known and soon economic and political pressure will mount up and things will change.

But forcing companies to do things by physically preventing them from operating, or by intimidating their customers or contractors or whatever – that is not fair, and should not be allowed.

Why? Because it works both ways. Otherwise you’ll face similar tactics used against your own favourites. For instance, should I decide to oppose immoral and inefficient organic farming, I could stop shipments of organic crops to a market and destroy all your organic turnips. Or smear customers of your organic market. If I were then nicked, I’d be screaming how my “right to peaceful protest” is violated.

That is broken logic. Not a good way. Let there be rule of law and democracy.

Let’s consider the converse: a gang of anti-wind farm activists occupy a load of turbines, stopping the community owned wind turbine company from making any profits for a week. This puts the company, operating on a very tight budget, into financial jeopardy.

Are you saying that the activists should be immune from the consequences of their actions?

Or are you just moaning about this one because you support the objectives of Dash for Gas. Cos, like it or not, the law is there to protect everybody.

I’m willing to bet the likes of cjcjc and Tim J would also be condemning anti-apartheid protestors for their actions when they were ‘damaging’ other companies and countries too.

Sunny, should anti-abortionists be free to occupy abortion clinics, preventing the clinics from doing their work?

I might be wrong, but the McDonalds case was not only leafletting – it also involved on-premises protest and intimidation of customers.

It also involved protestors who weren’t just willing to face the consequences of their actions but wanted their day in court – which proved far more effective than the leafleting campaign.

TimJ @33: yes, the list of exemplars I gave was arbitrary. The distinction I’m describing is as well, to some extent, though I’d use the word ‘subjective’ rather than arbitrary. I can see considerable rational grounds for disagreeing legitimately about how one should define what is and isn’t acceptable in political protest, so I just gave my answer: which is that if you’re hurting people, you probably shouldn’t do that, but if you’re only hurting profits, then you might be winning. If you’re not affecting profits, then you may as well go home: you have no leverage and no-one will give a shit. The Stop the War guys provide a nice case study; huge national popular movement, lots of very visible protests, lots of press, fuck all happens. No protest will ever be successful if it cannot achieve a disruption of the status quo.

Your response, however, is to something different; should there be a valid distinction between legal and illegal protest actions, and should unlawful ones be prosecuted? I agree with you, as it happens, that legal protests should be protected and illegal ones should not. Protest by arson and murder are not legal, and I’m all for that.

However, I also think that sit-ins and occupations, which were legendarily used by M. Gandhi and co. against the batons and guns of the British occupying forces, count as legitimate protest actions. These tactics worked, and they only worked, because they were massively disruptive and lost the British authorities a great deal of money. Should the protesters have been sued by the Crown for loss of revenues from the salt monopoly after the March to the Sea?

I’m arguing that current British law is effectively a political stitch-up; the system is rigged such that only protests which will not, nay cannot, actually work are legal. I’m not arguing that ignoring the law should be consequence-free.

” A few are, but getting it wrong and losing money is not a crime. ”

Too stupid to even reply to. The bankijg industry was carrying out full blown fraud and theft on a grand scale. Nothing new there. Drug money laundering (which they have always done) In fact without illegal drug money and crime money laundering the city of London would have gone bust years ago.

Miss selling of pensions, miss selling of endowment policies, rigging libor rates. Rigging commodity prices. The city of London is stuffed with real crooks. But they never go to jail. Cos they own the politicians.

When the right wing protest the police go out of their way to assist them. Like the fuel blockades, with those poor starving farmers blocking the motorways with their half a million pound mega tractors.

Police did jack shit.

Business/police/ politicians/ hand picked judges all in it together. It’s called fascism. Nothing new.

UKLiberty: It’s nice being back :) Got a new blog up under my own name now, linked from my comment ident; as of about yesterday, that is, anyway.

There is a definite theme developing above from several commenters which strives to define ‘peaceful’ (i.e. acceptable) protest as, explicitly, useless protest.

Any protest capable of affecting outcomes is going to adversely affect the target; and if adversely affecting your target is enough to classify your protest as sabotage and therefore ‘violent’ (cf. Tyler @30), then by definition, any effective protest is banned.

A cynic might suggest that was the point of constructing the definitions in that way.

As a side-note, given I’ve been away for a while: I don’t actually think these particular protesters have much ground to stand on. Picketing the power station is a dumbass target choice, no decisions are made at the power station and news coverage got bored with hippies outside power stations five or ten years ago. There’s no win here, and considerable opportunities to piss people off to no avail. Doesn’t matter whether you agree with their objectives, this was badly executed activism.

I just don’t think these guys being poor tacticians undermines the idea that for a healthy polity, there needs to be a mechanism for popular protest to affect outcomes directly.

UKLiberty: it’s good to be back :) Blogging again (link in my attribution up there), though I started that *ahem* quite recently.

I am sure Tim is accurate in his interpretation of the relevant law. However, lawyers being lawyers can get a bit anal with the law in ways that judges do not. The law is about justice and courts should dispense justice in the context of what a reasonable person would consider just.

Blocking the doorway to a shop preventing customers entering is inflicting unreasonable losses on a shop. Discouraging potential customers from entering the shop because of X reasons, is reasonable. Both protests cause losses for the shop but a reasonable person would consider damages being awarded for the latter unjust.

Causing a company to lose sales by saying their beer is crap is fair comment. A reasonable person would consider them entitled to compensation for losses from someone saying that their beer causes testicular cancer. So company losses suffered is not the key factor.

I disagree with the idea that a company should be able to claim from protestors the cost of their private security. It is the role of the police to prevent criminal offences. Protestors are not asking the company to employ private security guards. That is the company choosing to do that and the protestors should not be liable for such a cost.

Causing people to lose their home and bankrupting them for the rest of their lives is disproportionate to the actual losses suffered. Therefore, the law when it comes to losses claimed from protest should consider equity. For example, there is a huge difference between the power and resources of an multinational energy company and a bunch of hippies. To the company £5 million is a trivial sum, but to the protestors it is a huge sum. Therefore, a reasonable person would not consider justice was served by ordering the protestors to restore the losses of the injured party. Equity would demand that a just settlement should be proportionate to the difference between the resources of the respective parties.

We can’t pick and choose which protestors we like. There is always going to be an asymmetric resource difference between dissenting protestors and those they are protest against. It would be completely wrong to allow companies to use the relative difference in their financial strength to shut people up. No matter how wrong we think protestors may be in any particular protest, they should not be bankrupted for being nuts.

@50

Nail on the head. Thanks for the clarity.

If Sally likes people to go around shutting down power stations and causing my power to go out I will be well with my rights to take action that causes her power to go out too. Well it must be possible for me to do so because both sides are using their form of protest. She is protesting about EDF’s generators causing the world to burn up in climate change, whilst I’m protesting that the taxes I pay are being wasted on windmills. So if she wants an EDF generator shut down, I’ll take similar action to chop down a windmill.

One form of protest is not above the other – unless you are a left wing nutter and so blinded by hate of anything and everything and spouting such utter gibberish that you brain must be total pink mush. You are so blinded that you think the the fuel protesters were right wing – they were not. They were left wing, right wing, non-wing, anyone who didn’t like having to pay excessive amounts for their fuel. But then facts and research don’t come anywhere near that brain of yours which is all full of the emotion at the level of a crying baby. I bet you believe that giving 100% of your income to the state is a good thing.

RW @50

So the logic of what you’re saying means that I can disrupt any company’s activities to whatever effect,and because I have little resources then I can only be responsible for what I can afford?

Also, the company involved is not trying to ‘shut them up’ (they are entirely free to say what they want) but to stop them disrupting their business.

@ 53. Max

The law already takes account of respective resources when dispensing penalties, so it is not a controversial opinion. A court would impose a larger fine on BP for dumping chemicals in a river compared to a private citizen doing the exact same thing. Therefore, in practice they recognise that BP has more resources.

I doubt any protestors could close down a power generation plant without committing criminal offences to achieve that goal. Therefore, the criminal law is how people should be punished. The civil law should not be used as a blunt instrument to cover up inadequacies in criminal law.

“The civil law should not be used as a blunt instrument to cover up inadequacies in criminal law.”

What? Someone libels me that’s a civil law matter, not a criminal one. Someone breaks a contract with me that’s a civil law matter, not a criminal one.

Crimes is an offence against the Queen’s peace. Civil law is about arguments between the citizenry. You have noticed that it’s Regina v. in one and Worstall v. in the other?

The entire point of civil law is to deal with the things that criminal doesn’t.

Hell, we actually abolished the criminal offence of adultery and moved the whole divorce thing over to civil law. Rightly, too.

Here, the criminal offence, that trespass whatever, has been dealt with. Now there’s the dealing with hte civil offences: the things that are not breaches of the Queen’s Peace but are indeed the settling of rights and arguments among the citizenry.

What the hell is civil law if it isn’t to deal with the things that are not dealt with by the criminal?

52 Bollocks

The fuel protesters were mostly tories. Greedy millionaire farmers. (Who always want something for nothing) And haulage companies. Neither group is known for its liberal views.

They wanted to pay the same price for fuel as they did in Eurooe. Except they did not want to pay the top rate of tax as in Europe. Or the corporat tax rates in Europe. Hypocrites.

Richard made the excellent point about proportionate response. But the corporations don’t do proportion. They want to destroy all dissent.

Sally

Haulage companies are right wing, who knew ? Does that mean train companies are too and were they left wing in BR days but have now grown old and reactionary. What about buses are they wooly liberals perhaps ? You really do say some wonderfully mad things, keep it up it’s most entertaining.

@50, – of course, the law already has a built in mechanism for when a person of little means causes massive damage which they can’t afford to repay: bankruptcy.

It is right and proper that activists engaged in sabotage should consider the consequences of their actions and their effect on other people:
If I trespass in such a manner as to shut down a power plant for a week, I will stop a climate crime, but I will likely go to jail for a short period and (if I can’t persuade the wider movement to help me pay the bills) have my assets seized and face personal bankruptcy.

Is that a price worth paying?

It is very easy for activists to feel full of self-righteousness, but their targets are people too, and they suffer too. Those poor scientists at Huntingdon Life Sciences have suffered greatly for their work. Maybe HLS employees should have taken out civil actions against those campaigners for the distress caused by their harassment.

@ 55. Tim Worstall

Yes, but what you speak of is not really in dispute. The criminal law should be adequate to deal with such protests. Moreover, there is nothing to stop the criminal courts in ordering the offenders to pay a compensation. Whether that is a token sum or not is neither here nor there. The point is the criminal law is adequate for punishment. It appears as if EDF Energy wants to impose an additional punishment beyond what the criminal law ruled was appropriate. Their intention is not a genuine desire to restore their losses, the intention is to stop protests.

“Their intention is not a genuine desire to restore their losses, the intention is to stop protests.”

Fascinating. So that would be why they’re making a claim for their losses rather than seeking an injunction banning further protests then?

59 Exactly. This is dealt with in the criminal court.

But that is not enough for the 1 % This is about crushing protests and sending a message to others. Big corporates are really starting to throw their weight about now.

Can we see some bankers hanging from lamposts as sending a message to them please?

Hi Chris, can’t have been that shit a protest – you’ve just spent half your evening talking about it!

63. Chaise Guevara

People Who Do Damage Illegally Asked To Pay For It Shocker!

Sorry, I’m obviously late to the party. But regardless of my instinctive desire to side with protesters over a major utilities firm, you appear to be confusing the bullies and the bullied in this case.

Also, “peaceful” means more than “not hitting anyone”. This amounts to a non-violent attack, similar to someone stealing your house keys and refusing to give them back until you quit your job and get another one they approve of.

This kind of disproportionate action by a large corporation against an individual or small group of people of modest means nearly always backfires.
Reminds me of when the music industry in the US through the Riaa would demand $250,000 from a single mum on welfare for three mp3s.
Something they no longer do and thankfully would never have been allowed to over here.
PR disaster waiting to happen, just the sort of David and Goliath battle the press will love, not to mention the people over on 4chan.

I feel a mass boycott of EDF coming on.

That could cost them a lot more than £5 million.

67. Duncan Smith

Can’t imagine what legalised disruption would look like – its the FRANCE model surely? Farmers and lorry drivers there regularly bring the country to its knees :)

“rather than seeking an injunction banning further protests then?”

Because an injunction would not deter a different set of protestors. Bankrupting indviduals and ruining their finances for life will.

As Richard said, criminal law allows for compensation to be paid, and this is the appropiate mechanism.

EDF lost a week’s income from the power station, so the proportionate fine the protestors should face is losing a week’s income.

Here’s another case – fuel protests in 2000 led to lots of people not going to work, who had to use holiday entitlements and so on. More directly consider the example of a taxi firm who couldn’t get fuel for a few days and so had to leave it’s fleet of cars in the garage. There will be numerous examples of this up and down the country, with each firm losing a few grand. All adds up. So would you suggest fuel protestors be liable for these damages?

Of course you wouldn’t – because you support the aim of the fuel protests. Everyone’s view on this comes down to the cause motivating the protest – if you agree with it then the law should stay away, if you disagree with it then you support ruining their lives.

Equity would demand that a just settlement should be proportionate to the difference between the resources of the respective parties.

“He who comes into equity must come with clean hands” or in other words equity doesn’t aid a party at fault. That’s the case here – the entire situation is the result of the defendants’ deliberate criminal and tortious acts.

I doubt any protestors could close down a power generation plant without committing criminal offences to achieve that goal. Therefore, the criminal law is how people should be punished.

No – the protestors have committed offences both against the Crown (i.e. a criminal offence) and against the company. What you’re suggesting is that EDF should have no recourse whatsoever for actions that caused them losses running into millions of pounds.

As I said, I’d be surprised if the courts awarded EDF its damages in full, but this really ought to be a straightforward damages case – and there’s precedent by the bucket-load for how those go.

However, I also think that sit-ins and occupations, which were legendarily used by M. Gandhi and co. against the batons and guns of the British occupying forces, count as legitimate protest actions.

I see where you’re coming from on this (although this is partly about the right to break the laws of an unjust society, and I don’t think we’re there yet!) but ultimately, I don’t think that people should have the protected right to damage or destroy the livelihoods of people they disapprove of.

I support the right (though I dislike it) of anti-abortion protestors to stand opposite abortion clinics waving banners. I would very much oppose them having the right to occupy abortion clinics and prevent them from working. I don’t see that there’s much difference between that and what No Dash for Gas did.

Privatisation promised low fuel costs and more improvement in the infrastructure of the energy system. Just a quick buck for the greedy.
Neither has been achieved.
Quick profits given to foreign investors when that money should have been invested in the nuclear power stations in this country.
Who will bail out these companies, who will still have high profits, the consumer (US!)
State run industries were inefficient but maybe if the companies were non profit like building societies, Where the money can be invested back into either improving the infrastructure or paying dividends back to the consumer.

EDF lost a week’s income from the power station, so the proportionate fine the protestors should face is losing a week’s income.

They’re not being fined. This is a civil action.

So would you suggest fuel protestors be liable for these damages?

I’m reasonably sure that the fuel protests were legal – certainly one of the oil companies were told that it would be more or less impossible to get an injunction, because there was no evidence of illegal activity. No illegality, no liability, no damages.

“Here’s another case – fuel protests in 2000 led to lots of people not going to work, who had to use holiday entitlements and so on. More directly consider the example of a taxi firm who couldn’t get fuel for a few days and so had to leave it’s fleet of cars in the garage. There will be numerous examples of this up and down the country, with each firm losing a few grand. All adds up. So would you suggest fuel protestors be liable for these damages?

Of course you wouldn’t – because you support the aim of the fuel protests. Everyone’s view on this comes down to the cause motivating the protest – if you agree with it then the law should stay away, if you disagree with it then you support ruining their lives.”
Great point.
Tim J , now I really hate lawyers. You love these cases because more money for you greasy parasites

TimJ @70:

Which is at least as reasonable a position as mine :) Thank you.

@ P Diddy

“Privatisation promised low fuel costs and more improvement in the infrastructure of the energy system. Just a quick buck for the greedy.”

That would be the government then. The vast bulk of fuel costs are government taxation, which has been increasing for decades.

“I’m reasonably sure that the fuel protests were legal – certainly one of the oil companies were told that it would be more or less impossible to get an injunction, because there was no evidence of illegal activity. No illegality, no liability, no damages”
They blocked public roads. That is not illegal ?
Right wing lawyers, don’t you love them.
Also the oil companies didn’t mind the protests, it was helping reduce taxes on their product. Why should they prosecute ?
The Transport and General Workers Union said that there had been incidents of intimidation against drivers of the fuel tankers.
Hetherington, Peter; Charlotte Denny (13 September 2000). “Oil giants accused of collusion”. The Guardian (Guardian News and Media). Retrieved 12 January 2008.

The possibility of court injunctions against the protesters was explored by TotalElfFina who received legal advice that it would be difficult to obtain and enforce one as there was not a named individual on which to serve the injunction. The company also stated that even if roads were clear, delivering fuel might change the mood of the protesters which had been “amicable” and that “Getting fuel to the pumps would only solve the short-term problem and not deal with the original concerns of protesters.” The TGWU subsequently called for a public inquiry into reports of collusion between the demonstrators and the oil companies, saying that they had evidence of protestors being allowed access to the oil companies’ sites without security checks and that drivers who had been willing http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/930719.stmto deliver fuel being told not to.

You love these cases because more money for you greasy parasites

I hardly ever do tort cases, and I never do crime. All my cases are one bunch of corporates claiming that another bunch of corporates owes them money.

“I’m reasonably sure that the fuel protests were legal ”

It stopped the oil getting out – so either there were blockades that prevented oil from getting out – a similar action to the one we are discussing – or the oil companies just decided they had too much money and it was worth halting the supply of oil for a week.

78 – as I remember there were blockades/pickets outside the refineries. No trespass on oil company land. No Dash for Gas went onto EDF land (climbed the chimney). Different factual situation.

Hence criminal action taken against NDG and not protestors. I don’t think there’s much doubt that if police/Govt could have taken legal action to stop fuel protests they would have done – that was the Government where the Home Secretary advocated machine-gunning rioting prisoners.

They blocked public roads. That is not illegal ?

It’s a long time ago, and I may therefore be wrong. But I thought that the fuel protestors picketed refineries without actually blockading roads. I’d be surprised if the protests were obviously illegal, given that no attempts were made by the police at the time to make arrests, or by the CPS later to prosecute.

If people protesting about the price of fuel broke the law (say, by smashing up a petrol station) then I think they should be liable in civil damages to the station owner. Happy? I don’t care about the motivations of the protestors.

“criminal law allows for compensation to be paid”

I’m pretty sure the Magistrate can’t order 5 million in comp.

82. Robin Levett

@Planeshift #68:

Here’s another case – fuel protests in 2000 led to lots of people not going to work, who had to use holiday entitlements and so on. More directly consider the example of a taxi firm who couldn’t get fuel for a few days and so had to leave it’s fleet of cars in the garage. There will be numerous examples of this up and down the country, with each firm losing a few grand. All adds up. So would you suggest fuel protestors be liable for these damages?

If they were acting unlawfully – I see no reason why not. Just as I see no reason why the “No Dash for Gas” group, however much I agree with their broad objective, should not bear the costs of the damage caused by their unlawful actions to EDF.

As for this:

As Richard said, criminal law allows for compensation to be paid, and this is the appropiate mechanism.

Firstly, what difference does it make whether No Dash for Gas is ordered to pay EDF £5m by the civil courts on a claim for damages brought by the company at its own expense and risk, or in part by the Crown Court on the application of the CPS on behalf of EDF and in part by the civil courts on a claim by the company?

More generally; are you really suggesting that the fact that the protestors used criminal means to damage EDF, rather than remaining within the criminal law, means that they should be required to pay less, rather than more compensation?

“then I think they should be liable in civil damages to the station owner. Happy?”

Except the point I made was that the economic damage of the fuel protests was far higher – the taxi firm analogy and so on.

I took 2 days off during the protests. At the wages I was earning at the time that amounts to £120 after tax. With 13 years interest to add to that, could be a nice night out for me there. Who do I send the invoice to?

So here’s another way of looking at it.

The entirety of the protest against fossil fuels is that people ought to take responsibility for their actions. Emitting CO2 causes damage to other people for example. Thus the protest is really about insisting that people must take responsibility for the effects of their actions.

Fine, great, I agree.

It does amuse though when those very smae protestors insist that they shouldn’t have to take responsibility for the effect of their own actions…..

I took 2 days off during the protests. At the wages I was earning at the time that amounts to £120 after tax. With 13 years interest to add to that, could be a nice night out for me there. Who do I send the invoice to?

Oy. Look up Hadley v Baxendale on foreseeability, Wagon Mound (no 1) on remoteness and, probably, Caparo v Dickman on proximate relationship.

Short answer is almost certainly not, because making you take two days off work as a result of a petrol station being smashed is almost certainly too remote to be recoverable.

Parallel here would be if the reduced electricity output caused by the No Dash for Gas people had caused my refrigerator unit to fail and spoil my property. I reckon that’s too remote for me to bring an action.

Tim J
Just Google images fuel protests 2000. If they are not blocking the highway, 4 abreast on a motorway. Look at them blocking Ellesmere port with tractors. No civil actions because the oil companies were in with protesters.
Also no prosecutions because a weak government didn’t want to inflame the situation.
Also taking money off rich companies only makes the price of commodities more expensive for the rest of us. They just add your expenses to the price of the materials they sell.
You are still a greasy parasite, like the rest of your appalling profession.
The law is corrupt, if you’re rich company it will always be in your favour.

You are still a greasy parasite, like the rest of your appalling profession.

And you’re an ignorant, obnoxious arsehole. But hey, there’s room for all of us in this wonderful world of ours.

“And you’re an ignorant, obnoxious arsehole. But hey, there’s room for all of us in this wonderful world of ours”
Sussed me out. Obviously all that training at the bar.
Although this wonderful world would a lot better with fewer lawyers and agents.
In fact no lawyers.
Profession for the corrupt.

89. Chaise Guevara

@ 68 Planeshift

“EDF lost a week’s income from the power station, so the proportionate fine the protestors should face is losing a week’s income. ”

I dunno, it’s a compensation case, not a biblical trial. The point of compensation isn’t to give an eye for an eye, it’s to stop the victim losing out due to the other party’s actions.

Obviously the court should take ability to pay into account, but it’s not a case of “hurt X as much as X hurt Y”.

@ Robin

I see no reason why the “No Dash for Gas” group, however much I agree with their broad objective, should not bear the costs of the damage caused by their unlawful actions to EDF.

Ha ha.

I’m glad to see your respect for the rule of law seems to have just trumped your climate change paranoia. And this was presumably because a breakdown of the legal system might hurt your pocket?

But maybe there’s hope for you yet.

91. Just Visiting

Richard W

> No matter how wrong we think protestors may be in any particular protest, they should not be bankrupted for being nuts.

So it’s one law for protesters, another law for the rest of us, eh?

Don’t think so!

92. Just Visiting

Come on Sunny – it’s a question worthy of your attention:

> Let me ask you a question Sunny: If I got a hacker to bring down the LC website, would that be “peaceful direct action?”

PS
Why is LC so often slow.

Is there a plan to speed it up?

In the absence of a magic money tree, surely the real choice is whether the cost of the disruption should be borne by the hippies or by the general public, through their electricity bills?

“In the absence of a magic money tree, surely the real choice is whether the cost of the disruption should be borne by the hippies or by the general public, through their electricity bills?”
Or a cut in the massive profits of energy companies.
But what is a little greed in a society of Jimmys and Tims.

Since it’s in the news I’d like to point out that the BBC did nothing wrong over Jimmy Savile (never found guilty of anything, by the way) and my opinion of the Corporation has only improved as a result of this whole “scandal”. Long live the BBC, to hell with all its critics.

According to the news wires, Brtain has just lost its triple-A credit rating with the likely consequence that government borrowing costs will rise – which matters since government borrowing over the last year has been going up, not down as George Osborn said he had intended.

So will Osborne be suing all those that have been saying his budgetary policies are screwed up for drawing attention to his incompetence?

@ #90 pagar
That could be because closing down a gas-fired power station would only result in the increase in coal burned since the “renewables” output is totally independent of demand and the carbon-free nuclear output is used as a baseload.
So what idiots did was to increase CO2 output and sulphuric acid pollution by preventing an efficient, low CO2, non-polluting power station from operating. I usually argue with Robin Levett, but he is right this time.
Is there no one else who actually thinks stuff through on this thread? For those who believe that CO2 is the, or a, main driver of climate change, EDF are the “good guys” and you should be lobbying for the closure of coal-fired stations (also banning four-wheel drive cars on public roads except between fields, banning mums from driving kids to schools in towns, turning down central heating …)

@ 96 Bob B
No, because you do not actually understand how this stuff works. UK borrowing costs will not necessarily change because one out of three credit agencies has downgraded the UK. It still has a triple-AAA credit rating from S&P, which is more influential than Moody’s, so (i) your assumption is wrong and (ii) your premise that everyone will treat this as a watershed is also wrong.
What you obviously fail to grasp since you have been blinded by journalists is that most lenders have to make their own decision about the rate to charge. Firstly, gilt-edged are still “risk-free” to UK investors (no more risk than banknotes or coins), secondly bonds from companies with market capitalisation of less than £1 billion are almost automatically rated as “junk”, but decent mid-sized companies can raise capital from bonds at a reasonable margin over gilt-edged. One FTSE-250 company decided this month that a S&P rating wasn’t worth the hassle and simultaneously cancelled it and offered to buy back, at par, all the rated bonds that would become unrated: only one-quarter of the bond-holders chose to do so.
Thirdly, if you try reading everything on the newswires rather than just the selection from Ed Millionaireband’s stooges, you will see that UK government ran a useful surplus in January so borrowing is actually falling; also that the UK economy has performed noticeably better than the Eurozone, which has been a major drag on UK performance since the largest share of our exports go to the EU.

I agree with Tyler and co rather than Sunny. There’s been a discussion of whether we pick the side which suits our politics in these cases. Two examples struck me recently about related issues where I felt freedoms were beng threatened even though I didn’t like the politics of those threatened. One was the same cyber attack point which has been raised in relation to LC – Jihad Watch has faced a cyber attack which seems to have been very sophisticated and disruptive. Robert Spencer has horrible views but his blog is legal. Similarly – an MEP has been saying the EDL shouldn’t be allowed to protest in Cambridge because it’s too expensive.
http://www.cambridge-news.co.uk/News/EDL-protests-come-at-too-high-a-price-says-Howitt-22022013.htm
I reacted against that – even though I wish the EDL would stay away.
Although I don’t think people should be able to disrupt legal businesses in the way I gather these protestors did, I think strike action is different and so is attempting to *influence* people in a way which will indirectly disrupt the business. So – although I’m antiboycott I didn’t think people having a stall outside Ahava (Israeli owned store) should be illegal as long as there was no attempt to intimidate customers or staff.

What about the Islamists marching in Cambridge on the same day as the EDL.
Doesn’t surprise me that Harrys place is again on the side of the right and big companies.
David Toube disturbed a meeting of Islamists, its on you tube, with direct action.
Also Sarah what about the fuel protesters. They blocked motorways, with lorries 4 abreast. That is illegal, I didn’t hear Harry place complain then.

“Thirdly, if you try reading everything on the newswires rather than just the selection from Ed Millionaireband’s stooges, you will see that UK government ran a useful surplus in January so borrowing is actually falling; also that the UK economy has performed noticeably better than the Eurozone, which has been a major drag on UK performance since the largest share of our exports go to the EU.”

Good points but the evidence, a link please or is it just verbose ?

@P.Diddy – “Also Sarah what about the fuel protesters. They blocked motorways, with lorries 4 abreast. That is illegal, I didn’t hear Harry place complain then.”

I don’t think I was involved with HP then and I don’t remember. HP has had nothing to say about this issue either – I just commented here.

I don’t understand your point about Islamists marching in Cambridge. I’m aware of no such march – they should be able to do so though, as long as they don’t break any laws.

“economy has performed noticeably better than the Eurozone, which has been a major drag on UK performance since the largest share of our exports go to the EU.”
So the German economy, one of our major exporters, are not doing well ?.

“HP has had nothing to say about this issue either – I just commented here.”
Now there is the rub

“I don’t understand your point about Islamists marching in Cambridge. I’m aware of no such march – they should be able to do so though, as long as they don’t break any laws.”
Fair enough.

Sorry
“is not doing well”

Our freedoms and rights are necessarily and rightly circumscribed by the freedoms and rights of others. A person or organisation has a right to carry out its lawful business. The right to protest is qualified, it is not absolute (and in fact there isn’t an explicit right to protest in English law). When there is a dispute we employ a neutral and competent decisionmaker (i.e. a court) to hear both sides of the argument, look at the law and arrive at a just decision. I see nothing wrong in principle with someone seeking to recover from protesters material losses directly suffered from a protest. Why should protesters be free with impunity to interfere with the freedoms of others? Just because they think their cause righteous?

This doesn’t mean the claimant should automatically win and if he wins it doesn’t mean he ought to recover everything he claims. That is for the court in the particular case to decide – again after hearing the arguments and interpreting the law. Maybe EDF will lose. Maybe the costs in PR terms outweigh what they can possibly claim. Who knows?

But how else can it or should it work? Should anyone be free to do anything under the banner of protest?

107. the a&e charge nurse

[106] ‘Should anyone be free to do anything under the banner of protest?’ – in this case you might need a retrospectoscope to give an answer.

If some believe strongly enough that our current fuel policy is an environmental car crash in slow motion then this might prove to a more important question than a squabble over money

This is incredibly straightforward.

If a group of people took a dislike to me, broke into my home, and barricaded me in so I couldn’t go to work; I would absolutely expect to be able to claim my lost earnings from them. I think you all probably would too.

UKLiberty: “I see nothing wrong in principle with someone seeking to recover from protesters material losses directly suffered from a protest.”

Point, well made! I think it’s quite easy for liberals to see ‘Company sues person’ and jump straight to ‘Company wins'; this might be cynicism, you might argue. Not sure I’d disagree, but I’m also not sure it’s 100% unwarranted ;)

@ P Diddy 101 and 103
There are dozens of reports that the German economy declined, so many that I did not think it necessary to provide a link
http://www.dw.de/german-economy-contracts-in-last-quarter-of-2012/a-16597786
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-21455423
It was hardly news that the government ran a surplus in January: if you follow economics, you should expect it; the good news was that the surplus was nearly twice as much as economic commentators expected
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-21528984
So, do you read newswires or do you, too, just swallow what sent out the two Eds’ spinners?

111. the a&e charge nurse

[108] I think you can rest assured that protestors will not be breaking into your house unless you develop a fuel policy that may have disastrous environmental consequences.

They might do it, I suppose, if you are a fat cat who profited from such a policy?

#110; so whether you get legal protection should depend on the cause of those who harm you? Are we planning some kind of Committee to determine the level of righteousness of any given cause, or what?

“If some believe strongly enough that our current fuel policy is an environmental car crash in slow motion then this might prove to a more important question than a squabble over money.”

Perhaps it is.
But I might believe that shutting down coal fired power stations and risking unnecessary cuts/price increases is an economic car crash, increasing unemployment and poverty.

Should I therefore be able to impede the lawful business of these protesters with impunity?

It’s easy to excuse the behaviour of those with whom we agree, isn’t it?

114. the a&e charge nurse

[111] the law remains inherently problematic in so far it has always favoured those with deep pockets, neither is it an arbiter of moral decision making – in some cases quite the opposite, in fact – even a cursory glance through the history books tells you that the law (at different times) has been used to persecute great swathes of the population.

The protestors in this case have not been found wanting morally, not least because there is no personal, or financial gain for them arising from their actions – the law will no doubt be used to prosecute them but it doesn’t mean everybody has to be happy about it.
It just might take a bit more time before more people realise why their message may be more important than a corporation recouping a bit of pocket money.

As I say, I’m sure your home is quite safe from these 5 dangerous women.

“No, because you do not actually understand how this stuff works.”

“UK government ran a useful surplus in January”

When the self employed money comes in?

Oh dear.

@the a&e charge nurse – but there are people who probably sincerely think their message is true and important whose disruptive/illegal actions might involve attacking, say, mosques or abortion clinics.

117. Gallbladder

@96: “So will Osborne be suing all those that have been saying his budgetary policies are screwed up for drawing attention to his incompetence?”

Definitely not, because whether really true or not, saying so is exercising your lawful right to freedom of expression. Not libel, not inciting violence. So lawful to say so, no one can be sued.

But if you use violence, or unlawful blockade of traffic, etc, to stop people to go to work for the government, the central bank, and cause damage to government – then you could be eligible to pay for the damage you caused by your unlawful action.

cjcj, it wasn’t a coal plant, it was gas.

Chris,

Point, well made! I think it’s quite easy for liberals to see ‘Company sues person’ and jump straight to ‘Company wins’; this might be cynicism, you might argue. Not sure I’d disagree, but I’m also not sure it’s 100% unwarranted

If EDF proceeds and wins £312k from each of the 16 protesters, I will be very, very surprised.

Damages in these cases aren’t split up like that. Each protester would be liable for the entire sum.

@115 Jimmy
As I pointed out more than three hours before you posted…
Bob’s post remains an example of the outpourings of those who fail to read the actual news and rely of the titbits fed to them by spinmeisters (whether of right or left). That neither he nor P Diddy seemed aware of that before I pointed it out is worrying, albeit not nearly as worrying as idiots to try to close gas power stations to reduce CO2 emissions.

121. the a&e charge nurse

[115] I do not agree with ‘attacks’ on abortion clinics or mosques (which seems to imply violence?) – I do think people should be free to protest against whatever they like, though.

Mind you, even if an over zealous abortion clinic or mosque protestor did break the law I doubt they would face the prospect of life long financial ruin as these 5 dangerous women do.

In fact since I heard about this story I have suffered sleepless nights fretting about the hole it might have inflicted on corporate profits.
I am only comforted by the fact that if EDF can’t recoup losses through the court they can still pass the burden on to the poor old customer – oh, hang on, it looks like they might already have done so, preemptively?
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-20093259

[115] I do not agree with ‘attacks’ on abortion clinics or mosques (which seems to imply violence?) – I do think people should be free to protest against whatever they like, though.

Occupy abortion clinics or mosques then. For say a week and more. People should be free to do that with impunity? Just leave the protesters alone in the abortion clinic while they make their point. Women wanting to use the clinic can go elsewhere. Unless those clinics are occupied too. Well they’ll just have to wait. Don’t know how long though.

Damages in these cases aren’t split up like that. Each protester would be liable for the entire sum.

Looks like I’m safe then doesn’t it?

124. the a&e charge nurse

[122] Stunts like occupying a tower might become necessary once standard forms of protest become all too easily be marginalised.

After all, we didn’t get very far with protests against the Iraq war or privatisation of the NHS did we?
No, of course not, not least because those particular power mongers are not actually listening in the first place.

Perhaps the demonstrators should have sent EDF a strongly worded letter …… in green ink.
If, after a year or so, they got no reply they could have progressed to a few angrily worded placards – that usually has the corporate giants shaking in their boots?

a&e, no-one’s disputing the question of effectiveness. You’re arguing at cross-purposes. The question is about how free the protester should be to promote his cause. You seem to be saying he should be absolutely free, and I’m saying “OK, but watch out because causes you support can likewise be freely disrupted”.

“Just leave the protesters alone in the abortion clinic while they make their point.”

Surely the (let’s call it) argument is that they should be allowed to stay there until parliament gives in and bans abortion.

For those who think that edf’s lawsuit is wrong, and that any kind of disruptive and damaging protest must be allowed consider the implications you are saying… You are saying that any group should be able to shut down or harm any business if that group claims a political motive.

Let’s try some scenarios…

Political group x, decides to shut a company (say using trespass and criminal damage) because they disagree with company’s policies on climate change. Okay maybe you’re okay with, because you agree with political group x’s goals.

But consider what if political group y wants to use trespass and criminal damage to shut down another company, because they disagree with the company’s position on gay rights, or racial equality, or taxing the rich more. Maybe you are okay with that if you also disagree with the company. But what if the company’s position is one you agree with (say in favour of racial equality etc) , and political group y is a group you disagree with, say nazi mouth breathers. Hopefully in such cases you would recognise that political group y is simply engaged in thuggery to promote their political views. And once you have recognised that, it really should be obvious that so are group x.

I posted 127 (under the name Suny). I just thought I should point out that I am a different Sunny from the author of this article.

Sunny,
you might have missed the proportionality bit.

eg

http://about.jstor.org/statement-swartz

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fgh2dFngFsg

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aaron_Swartz

respectfully
littleox

@129 proportionality has nothing to do with it, nor does the Aaron Schwartz case, which was about CRIMINAL liability, not civil.
If the court agrees that you caused massive financial loss then it will award damages for the full amount. If you can’t afford to pay then either appeal to your movement for contributions or declare bankruptcy.

If you don’t want to be declared bankrupt, don’t commit acts of sabotage for which you are unable to compensate your victim

Sandman; I think part of the cognitive dissonance in this thread is that significant numbers of ordinary people, in so far as one observes such on the Internet, find it extremely difficult to countenance the idea of a company such as EDF described as a ‘victim’.

People described as ‘victims’ are usually, well … people. Not corporations. They are also, typically, the less privileged party in a conflict; the PRC are not ‘victims’ of Tibetan buddhists. Think ‘murder victim’, ‘victim of phone hacking’, ‘rape victim’.

More generally, try these; ‘victim of Israeli aggression’, ‘a homophobic attack which left the victim severely injured’, ‘victim of the Holocaust’… One does not typically refer to a suicide bomber as a ‘victim’ of the bomb; one doesn’t refer to John Paulson and his ilk as ‘victims’ of the 2008 financial crisis, and no-one who didn’t work for them seriously described Microsoft as a ‘victim’ during their anti-trust phase.

EDF may be a justified plaintiff here; afaict under current law they probably are. But it stretches the language well beyond shrieking-point to call them ‘victims’ of anything at all.

So, we’re all agreed.

It’s OK to damage the financial interests of people we don’t like.

Excellent.

134. the a&e charge nurse

[133] “It’s OK to damage the financial interests of people we don’t like” – well, on the scale of harms being done to the population by ‘corporate fascism’, as opposed to the harm inflicted on the corporations by tower climbers I would estimate the fat cats are still ahead by 99.999999% (rough guess of course).
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hTbvoiTJKIs

As I say, I have been hardly able to sleep worrying about the dire harm caused to EDF.

135. Robin Levett

@pagar #90:

I’m glad to see your respect for the rule of law seems to have just trumped your climate change paranoia. And this was presumably because a breakdown of the legal system might hurt your pocket?

Just as a point of information, pagar: You can be a contemptible little shit sometimes. It is true that your own entire political and moral philosophy is appears to be predicated upon your economic self-interest; but that isn’t necessarily true of everyone else.

What on earth is corporate “fascism”?

I mean how very dare EDF wish to supply us with their evil electricity generated by their totalitarian gas.

cjcj @133:

assuming that was aimed at me? It’s not what I said. I mentioned that EDF may be, and in fact probably are, legally correct. I also said that many will find it hard seeing a bully as a victim, even if in this case the bully has a point. I didn’t say that EDF are not, technically, victims here; that’s for the judge to determine at this point.

And @136:

That once clearly isn’t aimed at me, but I can answer your substantive question. Corporate fascism == fascism; all fascism, so far, has been corporatist and has thrived by strategic alliance with plutocratic interests. It’s one of the core differences between fascist and communist totalitarianism; communists do away with the corporations and institutions which might limit or compete with the Party, and fascists either grow from, or co-opt, the corporations which capture the institutions.

And just before someone pedantic finds an example of a ruling fascist polity which banned corporations or something, I maybe should have said ‘typical’ rather than ‘all’ there :)

139. the a&e charge nurse

[136] ‘What on earth is corporate “fascism”?’ – see 7 minutes in from link @134 – the film discusses the US but similar principles apply here.

Take the NHS? – politicos didn’t ask the public if they preferred clinical services being provided by corporations, yet when mass objections did arise the little people were simply ignored, much as they did when millions protested about iraq.

An important public institution privatised to suit the financial interests of a small group of money makers – still, you fret about the harm being done to EDF’s profits by the tower-women if it makes you happy?

@ #139 a&e charge nurse
Stafford was not privatised. Eoin Clark has had to make fulsome apologies for repeatedly lying about Circle Health which has dramatically improved health outcomes at Hinchingbrooke while making increased financial losses – to be borne by its shareholders. So far the tiny nibble at privatisation has been in the interest of patients and at cost of the interest of those whom you misleadingly call “money makers”
FYI My family took a decision on a point of principle to use and support the NHS in 1948, to which I adhere despite being repeatedly appalled by the management attitude to patients. I still support the concept of healthcare being freely available to all according to need rather than income but I do want to see some improvements in how it is run. Blair threw £billions at the NHS (as well as education) and got declining standards in return (in both cases). Under New Labour NICE – which has little, if anything, to do with Clinical Excellence, decided healthcare should only be available to NHS patients if it met a cost/benefit ratio in terms of healthy life expectancy (I’m sure you can tell me the correct jargon) that was a small fraction of the value given to victims of accidents in court. The Coalition has decided a better way of keeping the cost of the NHS below 10% of GDP is to get it to be more efficient by allowing private sector companies to offer some services in competition with bits of the NHS. The main savings will be when other NHS Trusts observe the benefits of any changes that the private may make for the better (and the shareholders lose on the ones that they make for the worse). You seem think that allowing Circle Health to run Hinchingbrooke is worse than denying cancer treatment to OAPs: well I don’t.

141. the a&e charge nurse

[140] there may be an argument to be had about how health services should be delivered – I don’t have a problem with such a debate, providing it is driven by evidence rather than ideology.

But that’s not the point I am actually making, but rather the fact a huge upheaval is taking place despite Cameron lying about no more health reforms, then ignoring the tsunami of protests when his crappy bill was finally realised.

In other words D-Cam is not really bothered what we think because he is taking his cues from the lobbyists and corporations, not the electorate – I see the amendments are already coming thick and fast.
http://abetternhs.wordpress.com/2013/02/23/urgent/

142. the a&e charge nurse

“Without public protest, democracy is dead. Every successful challenge to excessive power begins outside the political chamber. When protest stops, politics sclerotises: it becomes a conversation between different factions of the elite” – nicely put George.
http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2013/feb/25/edf-west-burton-streisand-effect

Vaguely surprised some of the LC regulars cannot see the bigger political picture.

“Every successful challenge to excessive power begins outside the political chamber.”

In what sense is the power generated by EDF excessive?

Moonbat of course may wish to consider the extra parliamentary activity is rarely essential for the continuance of liberal democracy but is invariably required to snuff it out.

a&e,

Vaguely surprised some of the LC regulars cannot see the bigger political picture.

I’m sure everyone here understands that companies (and governments) don’t like protest.

145. the a&e charge nurse

[144] ‘I’m sure everyone here understands that companies (and governments) don’t like protest’ – yet they remain unperturbed so long as demonstrators follow anodyne, and essentially token forms of protest.

Ask yourself this are the likes of EDF going to change tack on the basis of a few letters written in green ink – no, of course not, the little people can only hope to bring about change if they can hurt the likes of EDF financially, for example be diminishing the company’s already tarnished reputation.

A few corporations have got a stranglehold on so much of our public life – the banks, utilities, and now health and increasingly education. Yet people here are fretting about EDF’s profit margins – there is something masochistic about endorsing such a supine position.

Monbiot says, “protest is of no democratic value unless it is effective. It must disturb and challenge those at whom it is aimed. It must arouse and motivate those who watch. The climate change campaigners trying to prevent a new dash for gas wrote to their MPs, emailed the power companies, marched and lobbied. They were ignored” – see, ignored.

So do you carry on being ignored, or risk the might of the law knowing full well it has a tradition of being used to suppress dissent
http://trove.nla.gov.au/work/17081726?versionId=42994793

a&e,

No-one here is disputing the effectiveness (or otherwise) of direct action.

No-one here is disputing the effectiveness (or otherwise) of marches and letters.

No-one here is “fretting about EDF’s profit margins”. All anyone has said about their money is that they are entitled to seek recovery of material losses via the courts. I would rather they didn’t but I don’t see why they shouldn’t. Do you see the distinction?

I’m not sure anyone here is saying the protesters should not have done what they did.

The dispute is about the extent to which protesters should be free to disrupt other people’s lawful activity and any consequences the protesters should face for doing so.

Ask yourself this are the likes of EDF going to change tack on the basis of a few letters written in green ink – no, of course not, the little people can only hope to bring about change if they can hurt the likes of EDF financially, for example be diminishing the company’s already tarnished reputation.

Then this threat of civil action seems to be working in favour of the protesters, doesn’t it?

147. the a&e charge nurse

[146] ‘I’m not sure anyone here is saying the protesters should not have done what they did’ – maybe not, UKL, but some seem sanguine that the penalty for such action has two main effects;
[1] lifelong financial ruin (potentially) for the protestors;
[2] an implicit warning that mixing it with the big boys, unless in an anodyne, or ineffectual form is not without serious risk.

To repeat “The climate change campaigners trying to prevent a new dash for gas wrote to their MPs, emailed the power companies, marched and lobbied. They were ignored”.

The stronger the corporations become, aided of course by their expensive lawyers, the harder it will be ordinary people to voice objections to what they do – be it starting illegal wars or privatising the NHS.

Can’t you see this broader trend (toward disproportionate corporate power) goes way beyond abortion clinics or mosques – or even Jason W’s fear of his house being barricaded (@108)

Interfering with the powerful has never been without risk. Martin Luther King Jr, Nelson Mandela, Mahatma Ghandi all went to jail.

Change takes time and sacrifice. In the UK, it took about ninety years from the first leaflet advocating votes for women to women being enfranchised – ninety years. Meanwhile, many women were imprisoned and some force-fed.

To repeat “The climate change campaigners trying to prevent a new dash for gas wrote to their MPs, emailed the power companies, marched and lobbied. They were ignored”.

What did Monbiot expect to happen? How many people are opposed to gas vs. how many people continue to pay for EDF’s services and in general how many use electricity generated from fossil fuels? I dare say the former are vastly outnumbered. Did Monbiot really think EDF would or should say, “OK fair enough, we’ve received a few letters and emails, seen the marches, we will stop building this facility”? I doubt Monbiot did think that – in which case the “ignoring” point is irrelevant. It is not EDF from which you seek change in that sense, it is their customers and the general public. That is the purpose of protest – to get sufficient ‘buy-in’ to the ideals espoused that EDF (or whatever) has to change. The difficulty for the protesters is that a large number of people in this country would like electricity to continue to be generated.

On the Iraq war, what did people expect to happen when a million marched against it? For better or worse we live in a representative democracy. Representatives are not constitutionally, legally, morally or ethically obliged to comply with the demands of protesters. None of which is to suggest protesters shouldn’t bother – quite the contrary – just that some perhaps need to ‘manage their expectations’. It is not about being “sanguine” but about being realistic.

March and take direct action and all the rest of it but don’t expect things to happen your way and with immediacy and don’t expect to not have to make sacrifices.

149. the a&e charge nurse

[148] ‘Representatives are not constitutionally, legally, morally or ethically obliged to comply with the demands of protesters’ – of course they’re not – their task is to meet the demands of the most powerful lobbyists and corporations.

Perhaps some people need to appreciate the difference between rhetoric and reality – we do not live in a democracy in any meaningful sense of the word
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7InS1EQ9RfU

Suppose the majority of voters are content to have their electricity generated by gas (and other fossil fuels) while alternatives are developed, and would be very put out if they suffered brownouts because of insufficient power plants. Should the majority wishes be ignored because 16 protesters hold strong beliefs that it is wrong to build the new plant? Should companies have no rights?

What is a just or appropriate mechanism or means by which representatives or companies should comply with the demand of protesters? To stop a war, or a gas power plant being built, for example? How many protesters out of some 40m voters should it take? A hundred? A thousand? A hundred thousand? A million? More?

In a direct democracy, what are the checks and balances on the whims of the demos? Should we have any checks and balances? I am against capital punishment but it seems the majority support it. So whose opinion / belief should win out? We could say there should be some lines that must not be crossed (and how do we make such decisions?) – e.g. habeas corpus, fair trials, short detentions without charge, no capital punishment and no torture – but what about the myriad other things that I support that the majority do not, that I strongly believe of benefit to the vast majority of people, or things I believe should be in place to protect minorities from the tyranny of the majority? And do we poll people one time or multiple times to get a ‘good average’ in favour or against? And how does one float a proposition to be decided upon in the first place? And what if one month their belief about something is in direct opposition to what they believed last month?

@ #141 a&e
But the evidence can only be garnered if we run some tests on the effect of competition. What “abetternhs” is demanding is that we all conclude that private sector provision is worse quality than purely public sector NHS without examining any evidence other than the willingness of rich people to pay for private sector healthcare – presumably on the basis that all rich people are irretrievably stupid.

152. the a&e charge nurse

[151] rich people are not stupid, obviously – but a system based on status, which is an inevitable consequence of markets, will lead to greater inequality (in time).

In short, the rich, or a growing number of middle class, will be able to afford better services as they already do in education (either via private schools or better state schools in posh areas).

The founding principles of the NHS are worth preserving in my opinion, comprehensive, universal and free at the point of delivery. Such principles are odds with markets which are invariably driven by the needs of share holder; an unpalatable fact, perhaps, and one that often requires a fair amount of rhetoric to pretend it is otherwise.

Think about it – do you think giant health corporations will configure services purely on clinical need, or will they be after the money.
Perhaps you think we should trust the lobbyists – I don’t.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zrb3rJoLu9g&list=PL81AF9E189C11FF26

John77
Does the BBC article really describe rosy news or the situation over public debt is that good. The reasons for the windfall seem seasonal.
As for the German economy, the prospects look good, better than ours according the link you gave.

Tim Worstall is still an extreme UKIP nutter/cunt along with that tory cunt SadBadWhateverhisworthlessfuckingnameis commenting on here

Sarah AB – Still a right-wing cunt/thug

The term thug should only apply to thick right-wingers like Tyler.

This has got to be one of the siller comments I’ve seen, even here on LC:

“but a system based on status, which is an inevitable consequence of markets,”

A system based upon status is an inevitable part of a system having humans in it. Absolutely nothing at all to do with markets.

For humans, along with a lot of other mammals, are status seeking beings. There has never been a human society that is not based upon status and there never will be.

And as to market based societies: they’re less status based than many of the other types we’ve tried. Indeed, that’s one of the joys of them. If you’ve got the cash you can have whatever it is: something that isn’t true in societies based upon other organisational principles. Like status at birth, membership of the right church or political party, dictatorships of various kinds (not that these various groups are entirely mutually exclusive).

“The founding principles of the NHS are worth preserving in my opinion, comprehensive, universal and free at the point of delivery.”

Quite possibly. But which of these are being broken by having suppliers compete among themselves for access to the government money that pays for it all?

Everything still gets treated, everyone still gets treated and it’s still free at the point of use.

157. the a&e charge nurse

[156] a&e said – “The founding principles of the NHS are worth preserving in my opinion, comprehensive, universal and free at the point of delivery.”
tim w replied – ‘Quite possibly. But which of these are being broken by having suppliers compete among themselves for access to the government money that pays for it all?
Everything still gets treated, everyone still gets treated and it’s still free at the point of use”.

Seems like you have either not been following the undercurrents that go hand in hand with lansley’s shitty bill, or are unaware of them?

Turn your mind back to Tony the neocon when he introduced tuition fees in ’98 – nobody said then that they might cost some students up to £100,000 just 15 years later, of course they didn’t – this turning of the financial screw must be done incrementally and by stealth.
http://www.independent.co.uk/news/education/education-news/revealed-how-the-cost-of-a-degree-is-now-100000-8395989.html

If you think our health system will continue to be driven by clinical need rather than status as it was pre-1948, this will represent a complete turn around and culture change for the likes of the ‘H5 alliance’ – General Healthcare Group, HCA International, Nuffield Health, Ramsay Health Care UK, and Spire Healthcare.

Can you say with a straight face that it is not just a matter of time before these corporations;
[a] determine certain services are no longer universally available, and;
[b] introduce a system of direct payment, via insurance, or an upfront nominal charge for some services?

The whole thing is so utterly predictable, and well you know it.
Your semantic points about markets won’t wash either, in the context of health it is about substituting clinical drivers for those geared toward profit and the share holder – why haven’t the tories got the integrity to be honest about it, eh?

158. the a&e charge nurse

@ #151 a&e
You seem to have forgotten what we are talking about – not the abolition of the NHS but allowing private sector companies to offer some services as sub-contractors to NHS Trusts who will select public or private sector providers on the basis of service quality first and cost second. Currently there is a much larger private healthcare sector outside the NHS than at any time in my memory which suggests to me less than universal satisfaction with the quality of care provided by the public sector. Incidentally, although this is not relevant to the main discussion, the shareholders have frequently lost out – those in Southern Cross lost 100% of their investment but no patients/residents suffered.
It is not up to the corporations to decide what care shall be provided, so your suggestion that they will behave like NICE is wrong – they won’t have the choice.

@ #153 P Diddy
You seem incapable of reading anything that doesn’t suit you. I said that we were doing better than the Eurozone so you try to twist by saying Germany (not the Eurozone) is doing better – I pointed out that Germany’s GDP declined by 0.6% in Q4, twice as much as the overstatement of the fall in UK GDP in Q4 (Q3 GDP was overstated and Q2 understated by treating all Olympic ticket sales as occurring in July) then you falsely claim that the article says Germany’s prospects are better than ours. There is nothing in that article that says Germany’s prospects are better than ours.

161. Chaise Guevara

@ 150 UKliberty

For that matter, what if we vote to eliminate secret ballots, then vote that whoever didn’t vote for the winning party last time should never be allowed to vote again?

162. the a&e charge nurse

Monbiot on fire again – “Scarcely a human freedom has been obtained without the help of public protest. Scarcely an inch of social progress has been achieved without the same. Scarcely any effective movement in pursuit of this progress has remained within the bounds of the law. Avoiding unlawful actions, especially under the current draconian restrictions, which allow the police to shut down any protest they please, means committing yourself to failure”.

And – “The peaceful people who occupied the power station were fully aware that they were likely to be prosecuted and possibly imprisoned. This was a sacrifice they were prepared to make for others. But for EDF, prosecution and imprisonment are not enough. It also wants to ruin its opponents: to deprive them of their homes, their incomes, their savings, their pensions, their future earnings”.
http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/georgemonbiot/2013/feb/28/edf-climate-change

@ #162 a&e
Monbiot is a spoilt brat who is not prepared to accept that other people have a right to disagree with him. He is also wrong.
Disraeli’s great Reform Bill was in no way a response to protests: he enacted it to “dish the Whigs”; the abolition of slavery in the UK pre-dates the sort of easy communication that could facilitate public protest: it was a decision by a christian (saxon) king who concluded that slavery was wrong; the most recent equivalent: the abolition of the closed shop was in the face of protests organised by union officials who wanted to oppress workers; Wilberforce’s great campaign to abolish the slave trade acted always within the law; female suffrage was won more in despite of than because of the Pankhursts and their ilk (they, and particularly Emily Davison decreased support for granting the franchise to women – I had this confirmed by one of the women who would have been granted the vote while poor men were not): it was viewed as a reward to the Land Army, without which argument it would never have passed a Commons vote; education for the masses was introduced by the churches in the face of apathy, not protest (and independently by the Jewish community); old age pensions for the poor were introduced by Friendly Societies in the nineteenth century, long before Lloyd George, let alone Attlee; sheltered housing for the frail elderly by the City Livery companies and scores of charitable gentlemen from mediaeval times; medical care for the poor by the churches and, again, charitable rich gentlemen.
How long do I need to go on? If Monbiot can provide some examples to support his claim I can produce more (although I have already refuted it nine times over.

It took about ninety years from the first leaflet advocating votes for women to women’s enfranchisement. How much kudos for the change can be attributed to the suffragettes’ violent actions spanning about 12 years vs. other things in those 90 years? Or attributed to the violent actions vs. all their other actions in the 17 years prior to the war that the organisation had existed? Or attributed to them vs. the First World War? Or attributed to the political expediency of the Conservatives?

Yes, it may well be the case that direct action helps the cause (although many people didn’t like arson attacks on churches etc). But there is a lot more going on than direct action.

It seems to me that Mr. Monbiot is inciting criminal behaviour. I hereby offer a reward of 50p to anyone performing a citizen’s arrest on this man.


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