Open letter to Good Morning Britain

Dear Daniel, Susanna, Richard, Ben and Charlotte,

I was booked by your producer, Patrick, to appear in the Studio this morning for your discussion on whether Just Stop Oil should be made to pay for its own policing.

After making a series of plans for my kids to be looked after in my absence overnight, and on the verge of getting on a train to London, I was cancelled. It turned out you had scored Dale Vince, who whilst being a brilliant man and a valued and vocal supporter of Just Stop Oil, is not a spokesperson for our group.  So you proceeded this morning with a story about us, without us.

The editorial bias of your programme, evident now for many months, is a disgrace to you as journalists and a betrayal of your viewers.  As public broadcasters, you are responsible for shaping how the public think about key issues.  And you’ve certainly shaped this one.  Of course 80% of GMB viewers agree with you that Just Stop Oil should be made to pay for the policing of their protests: every single time we’ve been mentioned on your programme you’ve othered us, smeared us, mocked and belittled us.  The occasional violence that protesters experience on the roads is legitimised and perhaps even encouraged by the unbalanced and contemptuous attacks on Just Stop Oil supporters which are repeated by you and your guests, like Peter Bleksley who I was on with two weeks ago.

This circular conversation about Just Stop Oil’s tactics has to stop.  We need to be talking about WHY we’re protesting, not HOW.  Why is it that a group of ordinary people – doctors, teachers, social workers, plumbers, electricians, mums, grandparents and more – who have previously been upstanding and law-abiding citizens are putting themselves and their reputations on the line?  Do you really believe it’s because they like annoying people and spending time in prison cells?  Or do you think it might be something else?  

I don’t believe that any one of you has read the IPCC’s 6th Report.  If you had, we’d be having a more grown-up conversation.  We’ve read it.  And we’ve listened when Antonio Guterres, Secretary General of the UN, says that we’re on ‘a highway to climate hell with our foot on the accelerator’.  When he says this is ‘Code Red for Humanity’. When he calls the report ‘an atlas of human suffering’.  When he says that whilst climate activists are often depicted as dangerous extremists, the real extremists are the governments and multi-nationals who are expanding fossil fuel extraction when we know that it is killing us.

So, you could read the most important report that has ever been published in the history of humanity, and you could start framing the debate around that.  Or you could look out of the window.  Canada is on fire: the smoke drifting south is suffocating New York.  Farmers in places as disparate as Spain and India are walking away from their crops this year: there is either no moisture in the ground for them to grow, or they are inundated with flood water.  Flash flooding is destroying homes in this country this week.  And this year will be the hottest on record: 60 UK families saw their homes go up in smoke last year – how many this year?

You have chosen to present us as the enemies of ordinary people – yet it is ordinary people who are suffering first and worst from this crisis, here in the UK and around the world.  It is ordinary people who will not be able to afford food when crops fail and shortages bite.  Ordinary people who can’t pay their energy bills while CEOs like Darren Woods of Exxon pocket $24m every year (plus bonuses).  We are the ones whose homes and livelihoods are at immediate risk.  

And we are the ones who will suffer when law and order breaks down – as it will, because the climate crisis is the biggest threat to our civilisation that has ever been faced.  What happens when it’s not loo roll we’re fighting over in the supermarket aisles, but food?  And what will happen when ordinary people realise the extent to which they have been betrayed by their governments and by the journalists and editors who have chosen to waffle on about tactics and the cost of policing whilst ignoring the nightmare which is steaming down the tracks towards us? How safe do you think you will be in your homes then?

Our government needs calling to account.  If you won’t do it, we will.  You challenged Dale Vince on the money that he has donated over several years to Labour, and he made it very clear that he is not expecting to influence any policy in return for those funds.  Why aren’t you challenging the Government on the £3.5m they received from fossil fuel lobbyists just last year, and asking them whether that has anything to do with the 100 new fossil fuel licenses that they are seeking to issue?  Where is the balance?  Where is the editorial justification for ignoring massive problems while focusing on tiny details somewhere else?  Where is the truth?  

And why are you continuing to illustrate stories about Just Stop Oil with images of us on the streets, frequently selecting those clips which show us being assaulted by police officers and members of the public?  Why aren’t you showing the support we’re receiving?  And, more importantly, why aren’t you showing images of the environmental and humanitarian degradation which is resulting from the fossil fuel use that we are standing up against?  

You need to do better.  You need to facilitate balanced, reasoned, calm-headed discussion around these issues.  Stop putting us up against ex-coppers who have nothing new to say.  Start putting us on with climate scientists who will express their gratitude for the work that we are doing to amplify their evidence and data.  Put us on with people who are on the frontline of this crisis and are suffering now. Give us more than 5 minutes to discuss this in a way that respects the intelligence of your audience – it is no less than they deserve.

The parties to the Paris Agreement in 2015, which includes the UK Government, not only agreed to use their best endeavours to limit annual average global heating to 1.5 degrees above the pre-Industrial average, they committed to communicating with their citizens about the facts of the climate crisis and the extent to which we are all at risk.  Our Government has not kept its promises towards the former, and is not even trying to do the latter.  Our unelected Prime Minister cannot even make the climate crisis one of his top five priorities, despite it driving almost all of the problems he is seeking to address and being the biggest threat to his precious economy.  Until the Government steps up, and until you journalists hold their feet to the fire, our presence is essential, and we will not give up.

Do better.  For your kids, for my kids, for all of us.  

Chloe Naldrett

Fully-employed working mother of two sons and volunteer Just Stop Oil spokesperson, Bristol