Glastonbury has been in the news this week following a series of anti-lockdown protests based around the divisive figure of Piers Corbyn and coinciding with the Green Party controlled Town Council opposing the Roll Out of 5G. Labour Party activists are frustrated because they have been at the heart of the Glastonbury Coronavirus Support Network and now find these irresponsible actions undermining their hard work and the safety of the community.
On 14th March 2020, Glastonbury Coronavirus Support Network was set up by local people including 2019 Labour Parliamentary candidate Kama McKenzie and other members . The aim of the group was to help vulnerable members of the community in order to provide them with needs such as shopping and prescription deliveries. Kama says “As such, we were one of the first support networks to be established and have been working really hard to help people to stay safe at home, save lives and protect the NHS. In Glastonbury, whilst we have been careful to be apolitical, it is a fact that it is the local Labour Party who have stepped up to care for the community and organised a team of volunteers so to do. However, in recent weeks, it has become especially difficult to do this effectively as a group of people in town have begun to stage so-called ‘anti-lockdown protests’ ”
Market Cross Protests
The first of these protests took place on 24th April at the Market Cross and was presented as being in aid of “mental health”. Organised by Free Rob Cannabis of the Hemp Shop and inviting Piers Corbyn to attend, this protest was ostensibly to be a day of action against 5G. Labour activist Emma King says “The Police attended, but did very little and so local people became angry that people like Piers Corbyn can come up from London and Jason Disbury from Paignton and be proud of the fact that they are not practicing social distancing in the middle of our town. Far from contributing to mental health, many of the people living in the middle of town were caused great anxiety by this event!”
Another gathering occurred on 1st May, involving the same group of people, with again only a few people receiving warnings or fines and no actual action seemed to take place.
On 3rd May, Free Rob Cannabis advertised widely that there was to be another gathering, and claiming that he had received permission to hold it. Emma continues “Overnight on 2nd May, somebody put expanding foam in the lock of his shop door, so that when he turned up, he was unable to get in to retrieve his speakers and loudhailer. This shows that people had become angry enough to take things into their own hands. This time the Police had a strong presence right from the start and within 15 minutes, Free Rob Cannabis had been arrested. “
Police Presence….or lack of it
The Police presence continued, with around 18 officers present, including 4 mounted officers. Emma adds “Piers Corbyn received a fine, while Jason Disbury was allowed to leave with no consequence. So whilst residents were somewhat appeased by the obvious dispersal of this gathering, many people still feel that insufficient action was taken, especially as Piers Corbyn again walked away, as did others who travelled from outside of town to potentially bring the virus into our community. Whilst we understand that people have the right to protest, very few residents support these actions, which have led to many of us feeling unsafe in our own town. Several residents have also been subjected to verbal abuse for wearing masks in town.”
Green Council and their 5G Intervention doesn’t help matters
Glastonbury Town Council, who have had an ongoing committee investigation into 5G for the last 6 months, conceived of by the controlling Green Party group of councillors, have now released the findings of the working group which has angered Labour Party members who believe has now added fuel to the flames. The Green Council’s proposal includes ‘-writing to MPs asking them to establish an inquiry into the safety of 5G, calling for the UK Government and Public Health England to undertake an independent scientific study into:a)The non-thermal effects of 5G, and b) Electromagnetic Hypersensitivity; and lobbying the International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP) to take into account the non-thermal effects of radiofrequency EMFs in their Guidelines on Limiting Exposure to Electromagnetic Fields. In addition to the recommendations, Glastonbury Town Council resolved unanimously to continue their adoption of the Precautionary Principle; opposing the roll-out of 5G until further information is made available on the safety or otherwise of the technology.’
Labour Anger at Mixed Green Messages
Emma King for the Labour Party said “We are particularly angered that this report was published right in the middle of the issues we are having with these anti-lockdown protests (on 29th April) and, as 5G campaigners are the main participants in these gatherings, it is sending mixed messages to the public that the Town Council actually supports these gatherings, even though the official stance is that it does not. This has caused many of us in the town to question the motivations of the Town Council and whether or not it really has our best interests at heart, or is actually representing the population of the town in any valid way.”
Labour Party members are also perturbed by the presence of Piers Corbyn, brother to the former Labour Leader and some have Speculated about him having ‘some immunity due to his family name’, however, the Labour Party has said that they wish to make it abundantly clear that they do not support these actions. Emma King added “Whilst Piers may be the brother of Jeremy Corbyn, he does not have anything to do with the Labour Party and does not reflect any of the views of any of the local members. We are all fully in support of the lockdown and saving lives. Furthermore, I have sent an open letter with 62 signatures on it to Sue Mountstevens, the Police and Crime Commissioner for Avon and Somerset. I have also sent the same letter to Tory MP James Heappey so that he can be aware of the intensity of feeling about these events locally. I also pointed out that police cuts are a contributory factor to this situation.”