Over the previous weekend, when the tactics of Insulate Britain were being discussed at government level, one minister when referring to an action by them a few weeks ago at Junction 30 where the M25 meets the A13, said that junction was of strategic importance. As is Junction 31 further down the road towards the Dartford River Crossing. If you look at the satellite view of the area on either Bing or Google Maps, you’ll see a massive array of warehouses and fuel storage depots in the vicinity. Block access to this lot for a few hours and an already stretched supply chain will be under even more pressure. The other sites of strategic importance in Thurrock are Tilbury Docks and the London Gateway superport which is near where we live in the east of the borough.
The demand of Insulate Britain for a massive programme of insulating social housing across the country is one many people would support, not least because it would really help to keep domestic fuel bills down at a time when costs of energy are rising. Anything that would help to eliminate fuel poverty is more than welcome. However good the demands are, consideration needs to be given to the strategy and tactics developed and deployed to achieve them. Insulate Britain state that their tactics are an escalating campaign of disruption until the government send a clear signal they’re seriously working on plans to massively expand the home insulation programme.
We’ve already seen an Insulate Britain action in Thurrock at Junction 30 back in September. This is what we had to say about that action: A bit of a disconnect between protest aims and tactics… – September 14, 2021. Insulate Britain came back to Thurrock again today (Wednesday 13.10) to block two locations – Junction 31 on the M25 and very close by, Stonehouse Lane in Purfleet. Stonehouse Lane provides access to and from a large number of warehouses, including a massive Tesco storage and delivery facility. So if your Tesco delivery was very late or didn’t even turn up today, you now know why! This is how the protest, the disruption and the reaction of pissed off drivers and locals was reported: Eco mob blocks road near Dartford Crossing as activists clash with furious drivers.
A few people we know have expressed concern at the level of anger shown by frustrated drivers towards the protesters blocking the roads. They were pretty upset at footage showing drivers getting out of their vehicles to drag protesters off the road. Let’s take a step back here… Ever since March 2020 when the first of a number of coronavirus lockdowns were imposed, the lives of many people have been disrupted to a greater or lesser degree. We’re still living in a climate of uncertainty with another winter lockdown looking like a distinct possibility. Also, it should be born in mind that the truck and van drivers held up by the Insulate Britain protesters have had to work right throughout the lockdowns – you can’t do logistics and delivery from your laptop at home! On top of this, there’s the fuel shortage, the looming possibility of food shortages because of a lack of HGV drivers, and the threat of soaring energy costs.
All of this means it’s difficult, if not impossible for anyone to make meaningful plans for the future because they don’t know what the fuck they’ll have to deal with. A lot of people are pretty stressed at the moment. We’re pretty stressed at the moment. It doesn’t take a lot to make a stressed person snap and lose their rag – as you can see from the footage on the LBC report we linked to above. If you’re stressed as a result of what’s happened since March 2020 and the clusterfuck we’re now entering, pretty much the last thing you want is someone blocking the road in front of you. If any Insulate Britain activists or their supporters by some fluke happen to be reading this, please don’t be surprised when already stressed people get out of their vehicles to have a go at you because your actions have made an already stressful day a heck of a lot worse for them.
According to this report – Insulate Britain ‘to unleash hell if Boris doesn’t meet demands in 10 days’ – there’s worse disruption to come. As mentioned earlier, we live in the east of Thurrock not far from the access road leading to and from the London Gateway superport. Obviously we’re worried that’s on Insulate Britain’s ‘hit list’ and are dreading the consequences which will see traffic backing up into residential areas of Stanford-le-Hope and Corringham. Trust us when we say that will not go down well with local residents. If Insulate Britain thought they got a rough reception today (Wednesday 13.10), that will be nothing compared to what they could be facing if they bring Stanford-le-Hope and Corringham to a grinding halt.
For people in Thurrock, this is starting to get a bit ‘personal’. It feels like an attack on working class people trying to get on with their lives in already difficult circumstances. Everyone’s talking about the disruption and the effect on people’s lives. No one’s talking about getting on with a much needed programme of home insulation. The optics for Insulate Britain out here are looking pretty terrible and if they don’t have a change of strategy and tactics, they’ll only get worse. To put it bluntly, it’s a massive public relations own goal that will end up backfiring on them.
We’ve been activists for more decades than we care to remember. We’ve done our fair share of blocking but…it’s always been with a clear target. At times, turning up at the target wasn’t just being there to make a point – it was to shut the fucking place down! This is why we support the activists targetting the arms fairs at Excel in East London and the one currently underway in Liverpool. It’s also why we support the activists doing what they can with camps and occupations to stop HS2. In these and many other instances, there’s a target that needs targetting and shutting down / stopping. When we heard about the first Insulate Britain action in Thurrock, our initial reaction was what the fuck has this got to do with insulation? Also, why don’t they blockade or even occupy the relevant government department/s rather than come out here to piss off working class people? A change of strategy and tactics is needed as a matter of urgency because all Insulate Britain are doing is creating a lot of enemies for themselves.