Daniel Blake and Jim Ratcliffe are tied together - the Film and the Fracker.
On Saturday evening 180 people brought contributions to a food bank to watch the film “I Daniel Blake” in Eckington. The same afternoon 400 people marched from Mosbrough and Eckington to protest against the fracking proposal by INEOS at Marsh Lane.
The two events have a more direct connection than many people realize. Kate Rutter, one of the Daniel Blake actors, spoke to us about how the iniquitous cuts to Welfare and to health, go hand in hand with tax bonuses to millionaires.
The founder and owner of INEOS is one-time Mancunian Jim Ratcliffe. He moved INEOS to Switzerland to evade [‘save’] £100 million a year in UK tax. George Osborne wanted him back and in a private meeting in 2013 they discussed the need to curb union rights, reduce worker pensions – and did a deal to enable INEOS to introduce fracking for gas on a vast scale. Marsh Lane is the company’s first fracking test site. It will spearhead their aim to spread a pox of gas wells in scores of blocks throughout the former coal mining areas of the north. Each licensed square block is 6 by 6 miles and could have over 100 wells each. You do the maths! If they succeed in North Derbyshire, there will be nothing to stop their ambition to monopolise gas extraction in most of England and Scotland.
The pieces of Government policy fit together – and Ratcliffe is at the heart of them: reducing tax for the extremely rich paid for by harsher cuts on all social services for the rest of us; restricting workers’ rights. Add wiping out funding for renewable energy in order to clear the way for ruthless exploitation of fossil fuels by fracking.
He is personally worth more than £3bn to become “Britain’s most successful post-war industrialist” (Financial Times), has a private yacht costing £100 million, a luxury hotel chain, a new vast estate in Iceland, etc. etc.. He intends to make further billions from fracking, with very little benefit to our local communities affected by it.
Theresa May says she wants to “restore fairness”, and “responsible capitalism” and that only the Tories would "stand up for the weak... up to the powerful". What’s the betting that she won’t be standing up to Jim Ratcliffe, even though a number of other nations have either banned fracking altogether or imposed a moratorium.