Keir Starmer’s aide arranges secret meeting with Just Stop Oil: Eco-zealots talk to Labour while practising how to deal with furious public outraged by their roadblocking stunts
- MAIL ON SUNDAY EXCLUSIVE: Labour aide Jess Morden tried to meet eco-mob
- Comes after Sir Keir described disruption methods as ‘arrogant’ and wrong’
- JSO has been holding training sessions in Westminster on conducting protests
The Labour leader today stands accused of having double standards on climate protests after one of his closest advisers arranged a secret meeting with Just Stop Oil eco-zealots.
Sir Keir Starmer has publicly responded to anger over the group’s disruption to motorways and sports events by describing them as ‘arrogant’ and ‘wrong’.
But, according to internal correspondence between members of JSO and Extinction Rebellion, Jess Morden – Sir Keir’s parliamentary private secretary – offered them an opportunity to ‘come in and chat’.
The activists said Ms Morden was ‘trying to sell us on how Labour is still driven by’ environmental issues ‘despite Starmer backtracking’.
Labour has accepted £1.5million over several years from JSO funder Dale Vince but denies he has any influence on policy. Last month, Sir Keir caused a rift with his climate change spokesman Ed Miliband by ditching a flagship pledge to invest £28billion a year in a green energy transition.
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer (pictured) today stands accused of having double standards on climate protests
According to internal correspondence between members of JSO and Extinction Rebellion, Jess Morden (pictured) – Sir Keir’s parliamentary private secretary – offered them an opportunity to ‘come in and chat’
The activists said Ms Morden was ‘trying to sell us on how Labour is still driven by’ environmental issues ‘despite Starmer backtracking’. Pictured: Sir Keir and Ms Morden together
Shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves said the decision was taken due to the deteriorating economic situation, with the party deciding to prioritise ‘financial prudence’ in the run-up to the next general election.
It comes as the Mail on Sunday can reveal that JSO has been holding training sessions in Westminster on how to conduct their protests, which have included blocking motorways – in some cases delaying ambulances and other emergency vehicles.
READ MORE: Just Stop Oil plan their most annoying action yet: Eco-zealots say they will ‘paralyze London’ with slow-marching columns 10 times bigger than anything they have done before
At one session, held at a Quaker Meeting House in Westminster on Wednesday, one of the organisers – who admitted being on police bail following a previous arrest – suggested role-playing ‘a woman whose child is dying or something’.
The aim was to train the protesters in ‘civil resistance’, including how to ‘de-escalate’ situations involving ‘angry motorists’.
One of the organisers is understood to have been Molly Berry, a retired lip-reading tutor from Hertfordshire on bail from HMP Bronzefield for closing the M25 in November last year.
Ms Berry was one of 15 supporters who climbed the overhead gantries at rush hour in a dangerous protest stunt.
She said at the time: ‘The climate crisis is not left wing or right wing. It’s not an opinion or a point of view or a cause. It’s real, and it’s happening now, and it is getting very close to destroying absolutely everything we love.’
According to a recording obtained by this newspaper, the group of 17 activists were told: ‘We’re going to do some role-play. You need to get into threes. There are three roles and we each get a turn at each one. One is the angry person or distressed person. One is you as an activist and one is watching… you don’t have to be angry all the time. You could be a woman you know whose child is dying or something.
It comes as the Mail on Sunday can reveal that JSO (pictured on march today) has been holding training sessions in Westminster on how to conduct their protests
Labour has accepted £1.5million over several years from JSO funder Dale Vince (pictured) but denies he has any influence on policy
On Friday, JSO protesters were booed off the stage as they targeted the opening night of the Proms
‘Do try and put welly into it because it’s so important. This is real for people and if you practise and make yourself act as real as you possibly can, it’s good for you and it’s good for the future.’
A second organiser says: ‘You could be a parent going to a hospital, you could be missing an important interview, you could be late to work, noisy kids in the back and it’s driving you nuts, you’re a key worker, they are all sorts of different roles. So please put your all into it when you’re being the angry person.’
On Friday, JSO protesters were booed off the stage as they targeted the opening night of the Proms.
Jeers erupted from the audience as staff escorted away two protesters who had forced their way in front of the orchestra holding a bright orange banner just after the BBC Symphony Orchestra had played Sibelius’s Finlandia.
The pair tried to address the crowd as audience members shouted ‘off, off, off’ and ‘throw them off the stage’, before they were ‘forcibly removed’.
At Wimbledon last week, Just Stop Oil threw orange confetti and jigsaw pieces on to the court, while at the Ashes, England cricketer Jonny Bairstow carried off a protester during a pitch invasion.
Protesters also disrupted a performance at Glyndebourne in June by letting off a confetti bomb and blowing an air horn – but were then widely mocked for failing to do their research. The East Sussex venue is the most environmentally sustainable opera house in the world, boasting a 67-metre wind turbine that provides more than 90 per cent of its electricity needs.
Just Stop Oil activist William Ward, 66, was among the trio that stormed The Last Leg on Channel 4 last night – giving presenter Adam Hills a hug
Last week Ward was charged with aggravated trespass and released on bail after he invaded a game at Wimbledon between Katie Boulter and her opponent Daria Saville
Last week, it was revealed that Labour was considering introducing new laws to limit police powers to deal with eco-protesters if elected.
According to a dossier, leaked to website LabourList, Labour believes in the removal of measures such as ‘suspicion-less stop and search’ at protests.
The Public Order Act 2023 allows police to search for and seize items ‘made, adapted or intended to be used in connection with protest related offences’ such as lock-on devices, without need for suspicion.
An amendment to Labour’s draft policy platform says it believes the measures ‘should be removed by the Government now’.
A Labour spokesman did not deny that Ms Morden had planned a meeting with the protesters, but said: ‘Our position in public and private is exactly the same. We don’t support the disruptive tactics of XR and JSO.
‘They are just plain wrong. We are committed to ensuring we deliver lower bills, more jobs and energy security through greater use of renewables.’
England star Jonny Bairstow carried a Just Stop Oil protester off during the second Ashes Test at Lord’s
Dozens of activists from Just Stop Oil were pictured protesting in Oxford Street’s John Lewis store in London today
Just Stop Oil first hit headlines in February 2022 when an undercover investigation by the Mail on Sunday exposed the group’s plans to block oil refineries, motorways and petrol stations across Britain.
The group was formed by Roger Hallam, the controversial co-founder of Extinction Rebellion and Insulate Britain, who led a recruitment drive at UK universities.
Hallam has compared JSO activists to Martin Luther King and Gandhi, but Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has condemned them as a ‘splinter group’ of ‘eco-zealots’.
JSO were contacted for comment.
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