Freedom News

Prison Column: From an environmental prisoner

Freedom introduces a new regular prison column starting with Jan Goodey who is currently serving a six-month sentence for blocking the M25 with Just Stop Oil.

News from the Financial Times had an impact on me. It reported that 9 million homes in the UK have poor or very poor leaky walls, in other words lack of effective insulation. It would cost an average of £8000 to right a three-bedroom semi with solid wall insulation. The government is offering a £1500 grant max to the worst hit homes so that’s woefully inadequate. On top of this, new builds are still skimping on insulation.

As an environmental activist I took part in Insulate Britain roadblocks on central London, including in Parliament Square on November 4 2021, where I glued onto the road in an act of resistance against the state. Although Insulate Britain tactics have been vindicated, this is nowhere near enough. Words of hope and encouragement are ineffective and irrelevant; it is action, resistance, and solidarity that work.

Greenpeace is bringing a legal case against the government’s plan to award over 100 new licences to explore for oil and gas in the North Sea. The government argues that exploiting our North Sea resources increases our energy independence and lessens Russian influence. Permits for gas discoveries that are yet to be exploited and could be brought into production in as little as 12 to 18 months. This is woefully short-sighted and logically flawed; as an island nation we have tidal and wind energy on tap. Onshore wind is nine times cheaper than new oil and gas fields yet the subsidies offered by government are thirty times less than oil and gas subsidies.

Having spent 35 years as an environmental activist the message is the same now as it was in Wanstead and Leytonstone in 1990-91 on the M11 linkroads. Common sense solutions to urban industrialisation and rapacious capitalism are abundant; planting trees to obviate flooding; installing solar panels; solar farms; geothermal heating systems; wind turbines and divesting from fossil fuels.

As I have a relatively short spell in prison, a month in Belmarsh and the same in Wandsworth – AA Cat and B Cat respectively, I’d like to talk briefly about the system here. I’ve had seven cellmates between the two prisons and my sole negative experience with any of them was when I landed in HMP Wandsworth, smelly and dishevelled, after 2 days in police court custody and upset my first cell mate here who was fairly annoyed by my socks. I have been helped and guided through the system and shown kindness and decency. Even some prison officers have been helpful and decent.

However, prisons are symptomatic of a broken capitalist state system. Iraqi and Algerian men have been banged up for trying to escape authoritarian governments (a legacy of colonialism) and working-class men hammered by state social services. Until next time …

Jan Goodey

Images: Guy Smallman

Discover more from Freedom News

Subscribe now to keep reading and get access to the full archive.

Continue reading