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Starmer’s sympathy for climate change civil disobedience

MP says politicians must listen to the message behind Extinction Rebellion's disruption of life in London

03 May, 2019 — By Richard Osley

Keir Starmer listens to council environment chief Adam Harrison at the summit

HOLBORN and St Pancras MP Sir Keir Starmer said politicians had to listen to environmental protesters who disrupted life in London.

He said Extinction Rebellion’s civil disobedience, which included blockading bridges, shutting down traffic in Oxford Circus and protests on the tube and at airports, came with an “important message”. Hundreds of demonstrators were arrested over the course of two weeks.

Mr Starmer said: “I don’t think anybody would not sympathise with the police and others who have had to deal with this, but there is a place for protest in a democratic society and the message is really important – and I’m glad that we are talking about climate change.”

He was speaking to the New Journal on Friday after helping to launch Camden Council’s plans to meet World Health Organisation guidelines on air quality by 2030. A summit saw experts and campaign groups from across Camden gather at Friends Meeting House to discuss the best strategies.

Mr Starmer said: “I think when you get any protest or civil disobed­ience – but particularly protests like this – the first thing you have to ask yourself is what’s the message? This is a really important message.”

Asked what personal action he took in his own life, the MP added: “I genuinely try to walk more, and obviously use public transport. I think everybody can do that, but it depends on good public transport. We’ve got good public transport in London but not everywhere across the country.”

Extinction Rebellion say voting, lobbying, petitions and conventional protests have failed to get politicians and govern­ments to declare a climate emergency and make it their number one priority.

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