Just Stop Oil activists block A22
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The Labour Party and its leader Sir Keir Starmer have accepted donations from the company Ecotricity which was founded by Dale Vince, a wealthy climate change activist. Mr Vince has also funded Just Stop Oil, an environmental group, and has also given cash to Greenpeace and Extinction Rebellion.
Since the last election, Ecotricity has donated £360,000 to Labour, £20,000 to Sir Keir while he was running for leadership in 2020 and gave £10,000 to Labour deputy leader Angela Rayner.
Vince is also the owner of the League One football team Forest Green Rovers and has confirmed that he has provided Just Stop Oil with “tens of thousands” of pounds after their funding ran out last November.
Speaking to Sky News, Mr Vince has said he donated to Labour to “help them win, to help them into Government so they have the chance to deliver their agenda, which is my agenda, social justice and a green economy”.
When asked why Sir Keir took the donation, Jon Ashworth, the Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary, said to Sky News: “I think that shows you that people cannot buy our policies, because you’ve got Keir Starmer disagreeing with somebody’s position who has donated.”
A spokesman for Labour commenting on the donation said: “We’re proud that donors old and new are backing Keir’s positive plans for change.”
Mr Vince has said he thinks it is important to give money to direct action groups but has disagreed with the organisation’s tactics in the past.
Speaking about Just Stop Oil, Mr Vince said: “I understand why they do what they do. It’s what they have in their power to do.
“Whereas big business has different powers to pursue its agenda, and we have no real answer to that except sometimes to take to the streets.”
Mr Vince also added: “I have disagreements with them from time to time, when they were smashing bank windows I did say publicly I didn’t think it was the right thing to do.”
The football team owner said that although people have mixed feelings about the description Just Stop Oil has participated in, he thinks that “we’ve reached a point where taking to the streets is the only power we’ve got”.
Just Stop Oil received international coverage in October after its members threw tomato soup at Van Gogh’s Sunflower painting.
Police arrested two people for criminal damage and aggravated trespass over the incident.
The organisation is also known for blocking off areas in London, and the Government has said they will toughen up powers to prevent the group from disrupting people’s lives.
Sir Keir has previously condemned Just Stop Oil protestors and called them “wrong” and “arrogant”.
Steve Reed, the Shadow Justice Secretary, branded the group “eco-zealots” and called for a “clamp down on their disruptive nonsense”.
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Conservative MP Kevin Foster has urged Labour to return the donations.
He said to the Sun: “The Labour leadership must hand back the money on behalf of those who haven’t been able to get to work or hospital appointments as a result of their actions.”
In October, it was reported that a fire engine and ambulance were blocked during a Just Stop Oil protest in which they stopped traffic.
Just Stop Oil responded to the claim by saying: “Just Stop Oil policy, is and always has been, to let blue light emergency services through.
“It was reported this morning that emergency services were blocked in Knightsbridge. In reality one of our supporters directed an ambulance away from the roadblock and our supporters left the road to allow the fire engine to pass.”
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