Cllr Richard Morgan challenges his Labour Party suspension over taking action with Just Stop Oil

A Town Councillor from Bridgwater, suspended by the Labour Party after this was called for by Tory Energy Secretary Grant Shapps, has today spoken out in defence of his actions with Just Stop Oil. [1]

Just Stop Oil supporter Richard Morgan was suspended by the Labour Party on the 17th of June 2023 after the Conservative Energy Secretary Grant Shapps published an op-ed in the Daily Mail the day before, calling for his suspension and ridiculing his scruples for taking action on the climate crisis. The protest in question took place in September 2022, more than six months ago, with no qualms from the Labour Party until this recent Tory challenge. [2]

Shapps’ article made fatuous statements about Just Stop Oil’s influence on Labour policy, but this latest development begs the question: why is Labour under the influence of Grant Shapps? [3]

Councillor Richard Morgan, a renewable energy engineer has made the following statement:

“I can confirm I have been administratively suspended by Labour and I will be challenging that suspension. The Labour Party was built on protest and should be supporting our democratic rights not helping get rid of them.

“I have joined the protests because I am at the end of my tether and sick of the suffering being caused by the continued unnecessary use of oil, gas and coal for energy. I am afraid for my loved ones and for all life on Earth. The government is continuing to issue new licences despite all the major expert bodies saying this is the wrong thing to do, and people are dying and will continue to die as result. And not just people, we are talking about total ecosystem collapse.

“I stand by my actions and will continue until the government takes real action and calls an end to new oil, gas and coal licences.

I call on all ordinary people like me to join us before it’s too late.”

Elected in May 2022 as a Labour councillor for Fairfax East on the Bridgwater Town Council in Somerset, Richard Morgan unseated Tory incumbent Cllr Diogo Rodrigues. In September of that year, he took action with Just Stop Oil as part of our ongoing civil resistance campaign to demand the UK Government halt all new fossil fuel licences. He was arrested for sitting in the road outside the Kingsbury Oil Terminal, along with 50 other protestors. He was remanded to HMP Pentonville before being sentenced to 23 days’ imprisonment, suspended for a two-year period. [4]

Cllr Morgan was applauded by his peers in Somerset Labour, for taking action with Just Stop Oil whilst being excoriated by his rival, Cllr Rodrigues – a local operator who switched party allegiances twice in 2019.

The Councillor’s Code of Conduct stipulates a “custodial or suspended sentence of three months” minimum to be eligible for removal as a councillor. Morgan has not breached this, so he currently remains seated as an Independent. [5]

In the last few days Labour leader Keir Starmer has pledged to “not grant licences to explore new fields in the North Sea” while at the same time coming under fire for insisting that Labour would honour any licences in existence at the time of the next election and for rowing back on Labour’s pledge to invest £28bn a year in green industries. [6]

A spokesperson from Just Stop Oil remarked:

“The only real opposition in Britain is Just Stop Oil because only we are speaking the truth. The truth is this: putting more carbon into the atmosphere in 2023 will end civilisation because it will destroy our ability to grow food and end global trade. Governments will run out of money and water, health services will collapse, pensions and savings will have no meaning. Law and order will be a memory.

Richard Morgan shouldn’t be penalised for taking the side of ordinary people against a fossil fuel industry that is driving an irreversible climate crisis for their own profit. 

Keir Starmer and Rishi Sunak must understand that new oil and gas equals climate catastrophe in our own country. No new oil and gas is not just a matter of policy; it’s a question of whether to secure or destroy the United Kingdom. Any nation that digs for fossil fuels is perpetrating a genocide against countless millions now, and every future generation thereafter.

The next five years are the most important in all of human history. Everyone must pick a side.”


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Notes to Editor:

[1] Just Stop Oil is a coalition of groups working together to demand that the government immediately halt all future licensing and consents for the exploration, development and production of fossil fuels in the UK. Just Stop Oil is a member of the A22 Network of civil resistance projects. Climate Emergency Fund is Just Stop Oil’s primary funder for recruitment, training, and capacity building.