PR Companies Are Pushing Your Buttons

Backing Fracking and the other industry astroturf  groups are clearly struggling to engage the 50% or so of the population who are undecided in fracking, so of late they’ve been doing a bit of button pushing.

In the Conservative Fylde this has mostly taken the form of demonising protesters as professional work-shy unwashed activists whose main aim in life is to cause disruption to people travelling down Preston New Road. Of course, anyone who has actually been there for any length of time will know that a lot of the traffic disruption is in fact a direct result of the Police closing the road to allow vehicles to go in and out at speeds greatly in excess of the speed limit imposed by LCC.

Equally, anyone who has witnessed the declining relationship between locals on the front line and their Police force cannot fail to be aware that it is often the aggressive and provocative behaviour of the police, which is clearly a tactic imposed from above,  which is ramping up tensions.

This is a fact – I have witnessed it myself. I have also been pushed out of the way (a straight arm fend off which would be a sending off offence in a game of rugby)  by a policeman running at speed simply because I was standing in his path. My complaint to Chief Inspector Ogle resulted in no action being taken.

So let’s get this straight shall we? The vast majority of the protesters have had little or no relationship with or problem with the police prior to the start of work at PNR. The vast majority of the protesters would still expect the police to turn out if required for a burglary or other reason and would be immensely grateful to and appreciative of the officers concerned. That does not mean that we have lost our critical faculties and cannot see what is actually happening on the ground at the site entrance.

Yes, sometimes bad language is used, probably not too dissimilar to Blackpool on a Friday night, or probably even Henry St in Lytham at chucking out time most nights.  Strangely not a word for condemnation has been heard, from those having fits of the vapours about the use of the F word on live streams, of the Britain First supporting Cuadrilla contractor who advocates burning down Muslim shops,  and paints obscenities on the side of his wagons. But then he does do a lot of work for chariddee, so that’s OK then.

It has to be admitted that it is not ALL one sided  – I have witnessed somebody wearing a pig mask standing next to a PCSO and I disapproved enough to go to stand between them and told the person wearing the mask to get lost. However, the comments from people on the Backing Fracking page, some of whom comment authoritatively on the protestors’ behaviour, without ever having been within miles of the site itself, are simply fatuous, ill-informed and inanely provocative.

What is abundantly clear though is that physical confrontation has, almost without exception, been a feature of the police approach and not that of protesters. The consistent failure of many of the TAU police to engage, when politely asked questions about what they are doing, is frustrating to say the least. It is hard to respect somebody who gives a stone face to a sensible and polite question.  The physical threats presented by the police are exceeded by the physical attacks that have been witnessed from Cuadrilla’s own security guards. They are also matched by the provocative verbal confrontations which occur without any justification whatsoever.

Here is what one local resident reported this week after their first visit to the site.

The Police themselves know that this aggressive and provocative model of policing which requires 100 officers a day to facilitate Cuadrilla’s operations on just one site is completely unsustainable should this industry expand to even just 10 sites a year.

So, against this background, somebody called Brent Crossley has published an letter and is asking for signatories. The letter repeats the unsupportable calumnies about protesters, but “cleverly” starts off as general praise for our boys in blue. Whichever of Cuadrilla’s 7 PR companies actually drafted it is on a real roll.

Join me in writing to the new Chief Constable of Lancashire Police to show your support for the work our brave officers do across the county, all year round, but especially outside the shale gas site on the A583 Preston New Road where, since the start of the year, they have behaved admirably and impeccably in their attempts to facilitate protest whilst maintaining public order often in the face of extreme provocation and unnecessary abuse. This is not about being pro-fracking, it is simply about paying tribute to local police officers who deserve our respect and support.Brent Crossley

But what’s this? “This is not about being pro-fracking”. Oops Brent. It was all going so well, but you forgot that we can all see that you belong to the “secret” inner circle (12 members it seems)  of the industry front group Backing Fracking.

How stupid do you think people are? And how much do you think they enjoy being taken for fools by you and your PR company friends. For those who are not aware, Brent and his friends are engaged in a relentless PR onslaught to mould public opinion.

Actually the answer must be that they think we are very stupid as “Rob Peters” who admins the group above posted this tripe in a local group this morning.

As was pointed out by another member “It’s weird that Rob Peters added him to the Backing Fracking group but claimed he wasn’t associated with them? I suppose you can’t remember all 8 of your members’ names.

Give it a rest Brent and Rob. You are fooling nobody but yourselves.

The vast majority of protestors are not anti-Police. We are though against provocative and intimidatory policing and the facilitation of Cuadrilla whilst not allowing legitimate protest. So don’t sign Brent’s ludicrous letter – you’ll only end up on a PR company’s mailing list.

Instead,  if you need convincing go down to the site yourself and talk to people. Go down to Maple Farm on a Saturday and meet the unwashed, jobless, “professional protesters”  and be surprised to find that many of us are professional or retired people from all walks of life who would respect the Police at the site if only the Police’s behaviour warranted or allowed it.

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