A 15-foot puppet joined thousands of anti-fracking protesters outside the Labour Conference in Manchester opposing the party’s leadership of being ‘bought in to the shale industry’s misguided vision’.
The two thousand-strong People’s Climate Rally, which assembled at Piccadilly Gardens on Sunday morning, marched through the centre of the city before protesting outside the Labour Party Conference at Manchester Central.
Puppeteered by three activists from Manchester’s Friends of the Earth, including Tony Bosworth, a vocal climate change campaigner with the group, the satirical ‘Mr Frackhead’ figure ‘loomed over the marchers, berating them for their misguided concern’.
The tongue-in-cheek mascot told protestors that ‘fracking was the way forward for the UK’ and that ‘he was looking forward to fracking the desolate North’.
The metal construction was designed and created by political cartoonist and prop-builder Polyp, who regularly draws for organisations including The Big Issue, Liberty and Christian Aid.
Accompanied by a Twitter account, Mr Frackhead, who poses as a frightening pro-fracking emblem, often directly tweets politicians and fracking companies including Cuadrilla, IGas and Dart.
In a blog post written for Friends of the Earth by Mr Bosworth, he highlighted the Labour Party’s lack of unity on the issue of fracking, demonstrated by an impassioned rally held on Sunday evening called ‘Fracking is Not the Future’.
“A packed room heard from MPs, councillors, parliamentary candidates, union leaders and local party members explaining why they were fighting fracking,” commented Mr Bosworth.
“The voices were passionate, well-informed and powerful.”
Campaign group Left Unity Wigan, who were present during Sunday’s protests, slated Angela Eagle, Labour MP for the Merseyside constituency of Wallasey, for her recent comments in support of fracking with ‘greater safeguards’.
The group called her backing for the party line ‘pathetic’.
They highlighted the growing division within the Labour Party on the issue, championing Barbara Keeley, the Labour MP for Worsley and Eccles South, who reconfirmed her opposition to fracking at Sunday evening’s rally.
MP Keeley argued that exploratory drilling in her constituency had brought harm to local businesses, had negatively impacted the environment and added to an already significant pollution problem.
Mr Bosworth added: “Some of the loudest applause was for the Labour stalwart Michael Meacher MP who said that fracking was no Eldorado and that fossil fuels have to be left in the ground if we are to tackle climate change.”
The fierce debate continues in advance of the Fracking North Conference; a £350 per-head event taking place at The Lowry this Friday.
This will feature speakers including the pro-fracking COO of IGas, John Blaymires, and Tony Bosworth, representing the anti-fracking Friends of the Earth campaign group.
Image courtesy of Friends of Earth, with thanks