John McDonnell slams ‘appalling’ jailing of Just Stop Oil disruptors

John McDonnell
Charlie Peters

By Charlie Peters

Published: 06/06/2023

- 06:00

The Labour Party veteran slammed the imprisonment of some of the protestors

Former Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell MP told Left-wing allies that Extinction Rebellion and Just Stop Oil protestors have been “harshly treated within the courts.”

The Labour Party veteran slammed the imprisonment of some of the protestors, telling the Arise Festival that the “two-to-three year sentences are appalling.”

He added that the sentences “demonstrate the extent to which the judicial systems can be used to repress actions that are simply trying to ensure that we have a future for our children.”

McDonnell made his comments at the opening event for the Arise Festival, a “festival of Left ideas,” which is running throughout June with contributions from several key allies of former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn.

Earlier in the opening of the festival, McDonnell and other Labour MPs and peers heard a message from a climate activist from prison.

Chair of the event, Labour Baroness Christine Blower, read out a message from “Morgan, who’s a climate activist with Just Stop Oil.”

The activist’s message said: “As the government’s legitimacy crumbles, it can only rule through fear, thus we now see ambiguous new laws which make everything potentially illegal, even bringing placards to a coronation.”

In February, Morgan Trowland, 40, was sentenced to three years in jail for scaling a bridge on the Dartford Crossing last October, blocking traffic for 40 hours. Trowland had six previous protest-related convictions.

McDonnell referred to Trowland’s situation when he made his remarks about the ‘harsh’ sentencing.

McDonnell’s comments come after Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer was accused of kowtowing to eco disruptors by pledging to ban all new oil and gas developments.

Energy Security Minister Grant Shapps said the proposal was an “ideological vendetta against British energy independence.”

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak described the plans as “economically illiterate.”

Just Stop Oil reacted positively to Starmer’s commitment, but urged the Labour leader to oppose the laws used to jail activists such as Trowland.

On May 30, the group tweeted: “While the Labour Party and Keir Starmer have at least pledged to stop new oil and gas, they’re still supportive of new, dictator-friendly anti-protest laws.

“We have no confidence in this government or their counterparts in the Labour Party.”

The Labour Party has been contacted for comment.

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