Mayor of Lewisham Compares Climate Change Protesters to Football Hooligans

I was hoping that Lewisham Mayor Steve Bullock’s climate change comments (as reported by 853blog ) were an accidental one off… He wrote:

Climate change huge concern to me but do not believe irresponsible approach of the CC campers will win public support and make change happen

But it seems is at it again:

There may seem to be little connection between the thugs who wreaked havoc at the West Ham/Millwall game on Tuesday and the Climate Change protestors who occupied Blackheath last evening. One group are only interested in satisfying their own selfish need for violence whilst the other are doing something positive to help save our endangered planet….

The problem with the Campers is that no matter how well intentioned and nice they are what they are doing is counter-productive. It will be seen as self indulgent by lots of people who are struggling through the recession and could even make it harder to win support for some of the difficult measures that will have to be taken in the future. And who do you think is going to have to pay to take the rubbish away, provide water and repair the Heath when they’ve gone? That’s right you and me – the taxpayers of Lewisham who were never asked and never agreed to the camp being here.

I’m afraid that I’m a Blackheath taxpayer, and I have to disagree with you, Steve. Firstly, I don’t understand why our local councils insist upon pronouncing on issues that have no consequence to residents, such as Millwall fans, when there are so many other issues that need looking at first. Secondly, I think it is absolutely essential that people make their voices heard on a local, national and international level. Unfortunately for you, it’s on your patch… Nevermind, the heath is a mess every sunny Saturday with people simply boozing, so it won’t make much difference.

So, you can either use this to your advantage, embrace it, and listen to their requests, or you can sit in your council offices, chastising these young people for having the gall to make a stand about something. Don’t be misled – just because they’ve got the time and money to be able to come and make a political statement doesn’t mean that they are just rich kids who can be ignored. Climate change is going to affect all of us.

Please don’t make dubious comparisons with football hooligans. Improve our air quality, reduce the flights coming overhead, make sure that our waste isn’t being incinerated, but gets fully recycled, turn our public transport into low emissions vehicles, and stop the crazy rail price hikes! Then you can talk to us about Millwall fans.


Filed under blackheath, green, politics

33 responses to “Mayor of Lewisham Compares Climate Change Protesters to Football Hooligans

  1. Anonymous

    Julian Crispin, walking his terrier, Percy, past rows of newly erected tents, said: “It’s all rather exciting, isn’t it?,” he said. “I don’t mind at all, just as long as they clean up afterwards. We’re used to this sort of thing here, with Wat Tyler and everything. That all ended in bloodshed, but I’m hoping that won’t happen this time.”

    Yeah, I remember Wat. Nice chap. Drank in the H&B, didn’t he?

  2. Peter Collins

    I went and helped with Climate Camp yesterday and feel that the comparison with football hooligans to be utterly ridiculous as I didn’t meet one person who was at all threatening or potentially violent.

    Climate Camp has always been a peaceful protest, with very good organisation and from the get-go everyone has joined in to create the camp (my job was to help put up perimeter fencing to keep people safe) and I’m positive that at the end of the camp there will not be one piece of litter left by the camp members.

    I’d encourage local residents to go in and chat to people in the camp. We’re not a bunch of extremists or hooligans; we’re just people from different backgrounds who are deeply concerned about the future we face.

  3. Not cool, Mayor Steve.

    I do see the Mayor’s point about the unforeseen policing and clean-up bills, but as Bugle correctly points out, there’s a considerable clear-up operation on Blackheath after a bank holiday weekend anyway.

    I’m not sure antagonising the protest with hastily-assembled, ill-advised football hooliganism comparisons is entirely helpful. Nip up there with an open mind and have a cup of tea, Steve.

    Elsewhere, The Guardian is liveblogging events on Blackheath and elsewhere at

    • I know it all has to be paid for, and I can see his concerns, but it just seems like a really daft thing to say from a position of power!

    • Rosie

      Couldn’t agree more; trouble is, Sir Steve does not have an open mind. Seems to me that the camp was a peaceful and, given the news coverage, really effective way of highlighting this incredibly important issue. Of course Sir Steve disagrees with it – because it wasn’t his idea :-)

  4. Ian

    Personally I’m a fairly local resident (well, Brockley) and I think it’s fab.

    I suspect the cleanup will be minimal and I would have hoped Lewisham would have welcomed this very peaceful ecological event.

  5. I understand that when the Climate Campers met up with the Police last week, even they said “oh we know you’ll leave it tidier than when you arrived, we just want to know where it’ll be”, so i doubt there will be much of a clean up bill…

  6. Problem is, a minority hooligan element exists within the Climate Camp, and these are the people who will do damage to the heath and frankly not care.

    As seen on the Guardian blog, chants of “Harry Roberts”, shouting “murderers” at the local police and general anarchist behaviour is just a glimmer of what could happen. The Mayor has a responsibility towards taxpayers in Lewisham, by definition he does have to take a NIMBYist position, because it our heath that he is responsible for. If trouble breaks out on the heath, ultimately, he’ll pay the political price.

    And I think he’s right – I think this sort of action is counter-productive. Why not engage people on Lewisham High Street about the issues? But no, that’s not as glamorous as a Camp is it?

    • George


      Climate Camp has gone to lengths to engage local residents. I suggest you get down there yourself and you’ll see how peaceful it is.

      And since when is camping “glamorous”?

  7. Jane

    I was there yesterday chatting with some of the campers. They are very interested in locals and their support and they explain whatever you ask about.. As some of them put it “commons are for all of us.”

    Mike, I suggest you go there and ask them yourself…

    • Anonymous

      If commons are for all of us, why have they put up fences and insist they can decide who goes in ? Hypocrisy rools OK.

    • Ed Coster

      I had no problem getting in…

      The fencing and a degree of security is unfortunately required to ensure the safety of the protesters and visitors to the camp.

      As a local resident I give my support to the well intentioned peaceful protesters.

  8. Another well-written blog. But never mind the mayor, there are plenty of good folk in Blackheath who understand the underlying issues of climate change (plus some ex-residents like ourselves) and who will whole-heartedly support the camp.

  9. The campers already have plans in hand to clear up after themselves when the event is over. This Lewisham taxpayer also supports the camp and will be going to pay a visit.

  10. tomf

    If they are so nice, and so peaceful, why bother with the secretive stuff? Why not just hire out a hall somewhere in the countryside and do all their planning etc somewhere?

    It’s because it is all political. Unable and unwilling to engage with democratic politics, they fence off a bit of the heath instead and make as much of a fuss of themselves as possible. Well, er, cheers guys. Hope you’re not here long.

    • Ed Coster

      Don’t forget one of the virtues of a democratic society is the freedom to hold public demonstrations, which are a recognised way of engaging in democratic politics.

      Also, I think their website does make fairly clear the reasons why they choose to be secretive about the location of their camp.

  11. Kate

    How kind of them, to invite local residents to ‘visit’ their own common land.

  12. George

    I wonder if there football hooligans out there a bit offended at being compared to a bunch of campers?

  13. Talbot

    I am live very near the Heath, and whilst I cannot say the camp has disturbed me so far, the campers must be breaking some law? What gives you them the right to camp there? If I was to set up a tent with my friends on the heath we would be booted off in no time. I can’t help but feel you are holding the police to ransom over the G20 protests – ‘don’t move us on as you know you will have to use force and you will look bad’.
    Equally, no matter how peaceful you are, how environmentally friendly your credentials, you are costing people money. There IS a policing bill, there WILL be a cost incurred at the council, locals WILL ultimately pay for this. Surely there are better things 3000 (?) people can do with their time to be green than sit on a heath? How about the clever ones enter the labs and machine shops and come up with alternative energy sources, and those less gifted work on local green community projects? 3000 people would make a REAL impact. Instead, I fear that come the 3 September, you will pack up, go home and everyone will forget the camp was ever there and the world keeps on spinning.

  14. @talbot
    One of the aims of this event is to raise awareness to try and boost the number of people getting involved or contributing to the effort, so that the 3000 (or however many) becomes twice, three times, a hundred times as many. A lot of the people at the camp are already skilled at producing energy from renewable sources using recycled materials, or have creative ways of disposing of waste so it does not harm the environment and coming up with ideas for recycling what cannot be disposed of. They are also extensively involved in local community projects – you only have to visit and talk to them to find this out.

    • Talbot

      ..but for the this period these 3000 people are effectively sitting on their arse on the Heath. Even if people can visit does it take this many to invite them? They could be doing better things. 3000 people working on one project would have a massive impact in 1 week. Look how many cars are produced by factories with less employees that time (for an ‘ungreen’ example).

  15. Mike Russell

    Look what those hooligans have done now!

  16. Jim

    There is quite of bit of fly tipping on my road. Wonder how I can contact them to clean it up.

  17. Peter Tingey

    Steve Bullock is the latest in a long line of labour politicians who think that they can gain favour with the electorate by ingratiating themselves with those who neither like, trust or generally agree with them. You won’t get the Tories neglecting their core constituency.
    The Mayor has a lot to learn from the campers about mutual support in a community.

  18. Paul Quarry

    Missed most of the climate camp mularkey as we were off camping ourselves this last weekend. What’s the fuss about? True, they didn’t ask me if they could camp on the common, but then no-one asks me about the Bank Holiday fair, the Chinese State circus, the bloody donkeys, the plastic pint glasses outside the Princess of Wales, the Kite Surfers, the closing of Greenwich Park to all of us by the Olympic Commitee … on balance, I’ll take the Climate Campers. At least they mean well. Something that can’t be said of Steve Bullock.

  19. Paul, just for the record most of those you mention do actually ask for permission before they use the heath. Your local councillors (along with the amenity societies) get a chance to represent your views on each an every one of the events that are legitimately held on the heath and if you want to influence what they think you should go and talk to them.

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