Students target Exxon Mobil

A group of students in Manchester take direct action, shutting down a petrol station

How 30 Manchester University students closed down an Esso garage for two
hours on 9th February

Five students used D-locks to attach themselves to bollards and bicycles that were positioned across the entrance and exit of the petrol station in South Manchester. Others held banners and distributed flyers to slow moving rush hour traffic, about the role Exxon Mobil (Esso) has played in denying climate change over the last two decades.

In 2005, Exxon Mobil donated $2.9 million to 39 groups that - according to the Royal Society, Britain's top scientific academy, "have misrepresented the science of climate change, by outright denial of the evidence".

In May 2006, the Competitive Enterprise Institute, one of the groups previously funded by Esso, produced a television advert with the finish line, 'Carbon dioxide- they call it pollution, we call it life.' The advert aired in 14 US cities.

"It's not just a case of targeting one corporate bad boy," said Andy Bowman, a third year Social Anthropology student. "Esso represent something much wider in our culture. They are the world's worst emitter of carbon dioxide, actively promoting fossil fuel consumption, yet also earned £20bn in profit, the largest of any company last year."

Manchester University has seen a flurry of green campaigning recently. 'Climate Change Week' was organised to lead up to the report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change on Friday 2nd February. The week
included a screening of Al Gore's documentary 'An Inconvenient Truth', workshops, and distributing spoof parking tickets to Urban 4x4s. Stencil activists also painted small green feet leading up to the entrances of flight retail shops and a Humvee garage. The large red feet painted leading away from them aimed to warn passers-by as to where they can significantly increase their carbon footprint.

Other People and Planet activists are petitioning the University into employing an Environmental Manager and adopting more sustainable measures in faculty buildings.

The protest at Esso ended when blockaders voluntarily reopened the garage.
No arrests were made.

Robbie Gillett became politically active in 2001 attending the Mayday protests. Since then he’s been involved in anti-war demos, the DSEI arms fair protests and a blockade at Faslane. He is also involved with Plane Stupid.
Photo: Getty
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Mark Sampson's exit leaves the FA still trying to convince itself of its own infallibility

Football's governing body won't be able to repair the damage to its reputation in silence.

By the end, it appeared as if Mark Sampson was weathering the storm.

Despite personal reflections that the uproar and scandal that has surrounded his recent tenure as England women's football manger was taking a toll, he seemed, as of Tuesday night, firmly ensconced in the post he had held since 2013.

Player Eniola Aluko’s claims of bullying and racism against the coach – given little backing from teammates and, on balance, disregarded by consecutive enquiries – remained a persistent story, yet talk of a fresh investigation were trumped in importance by Sampson’s continued presence at training and in the dugout.

The BBC’s occasionally rabid attachment to proceedings gave the saga prolonged oxygen, but when Sampson seemed to retain the FA’s support – taking charge of the Lionesses’ 6-0 win over Russia on Tuesday night – the worst appeared to be over.

With hindsight, the vultures were simply sharpening their talons.

Sampson’s sacking – less than 24 hours after that Russia game – came after a report was unearthed detailing a historic complaint against him from his time coaching Bristol Academy – a job he left to take up the England post.

In what has long become customary, the FA received these claims nearly four years ago yet failed to act definitively – initially concluding that their new coach was “not a safeguarding risk”. However as the recent crisis depended, the full details of these initial accusations were allegedly not revealed to senior leadership.

Confirming Sampson's departure on Wednesday, FA chief executive Martin Glenn carried a pained expression reminiscent of former incumbent Mark Palios, who, in another entry in the annals of great FA crises, resigned in 2004 as a result of an affair with FA secretary Faria Alam.

Glenn will hope that his own head is not sought in the weeks ahead as his conduct throughout the Sampson saga is probed.

It also marks yet another turbulent 12 months for the beleaguered governing body, who almost exactly a year ago to the day, parted company with England men’s coach Sam Allardyce after just a single game in charge – the former Bolton and Sunderland coach getting the bullet as a result of transfer advice offered to undercover journalists.

The Allardyce departure was handled with uncharacteristic efficiency – a symptom, perhaps, of the initial scepticism behind his appointment rather than any particular reflection on his crimes.

With clear-eyed judgement, it is difficult not to have a portion of sympathy for Sampson – who, cleared by those investigations, maintained the very visible backing of his squad – right up until Wednesday’s bitter denouement.

That he’s been paid in full for the three-year contract signed last summer speaks for how soft a line the FA took on the events that forced the sacking – hoping, perhaps, for as quiet an ending as possible for both parties.

Regrettably, for the FA at least, considerable damage to their reputation will not be something they can repair in silence – not in an era where women’s football enjoys such a high profile in the national consciousness and the body continues to mark itself an easy target for criticism. 

The exact contents of those 2014 allegations and that report are sure to be known down the line – non-disclosure agreements willing – but are as of now only conjecture and innuendo.

Without details, it’s difficult to know how hard to judge Sampson. The facts of his performance on the pitch mark him out as having been an accomplished coach. That is no longer the exclusive measure of success.

Detractors will murmur darkly about there being no smoke without fire, while his supporters will point to the unique nature of the job and the often confrontational elements of its duties.

Sampson, at 34, is still a relatively young man and may be able to coach again once the rancour has subsided – although with a reputation severely bloodied, will look on the two-year salary windfall with some gratitude.

Despite Glenn’s insistence that his former manager is “clear to work” in the sport, it’s hard to envisage his career ever resuming in the women’s game.

The FA itself is again left rudderless as it tries to convince itself of its own infallibility. Flabby management structures and the perception of being an antiquated country club – valid or not – will be revisited with relish.

Perhaps positively, it could herald a more honest conversation behind what success looks like for the national game as a whole. Inclusiveness and development of a robust culture are often the first words to disappear from the vocabulary once on field results start to falter.  

For once, the identity of the next coach is not the urgent dilemma facing the FA.

You can follow Cameron on Twitter here.