Party News – Glasgow COP26

All the lockdowns of the past couple of years certainly put a dampener on Party activity and turned us all into real armchair socialists for a while, but it didn’t stop us making plans, and one of these, for COP26, took shape over several months from June onwards. We knew we couldn’t be there for the whole two weeks and we had to make an early decision about what dates to pick, so that we could secure cheap accommodation before all the prices skyrocketed. We thought it better to be there ‘en masse’ as opposed to in dribs and drabs, so we made bookings for Sunday 7 to Wednesday 11 November.

We also applied for an official pitch via Glasgow council so we could have a proper stall, then designed some leaflets, each with a QR code that people could scan with their smartphone camera to go to a special SPGB landing page on climate change, and liaised over a special issue of the Standard.

Then a national Day of Action was announced for Saturday 6 November, the day before we were due to arrive. Cue further organisation, this time of regional leafleting by other members in London, Manchester, Sheffield, Cardiff, Oxford, Bournemouth, Portsmouth and Frome.

As it turned out, torrential rain in Glasgow on the Day of Action made it nearly impossible for Glasgow members to do much leafleting, and bad weather affected operations in other cities too, but even so, well over 5,000 leaflets were distributed overall.

Heavy rain in Glasgow on Monday 8th effectively wrote off most of that day’s leafleting, but the weather improved and we fared better on the following two days, distributing around 1,500 leaflets. There were a few desultory marches and rallies, with Extinction Rebellion out in force with their Masque-of-the-Red-Death dancers bringing a creepy Vincent Price vibe to the proceedings. Local businesses cashed in for all they were worth, of course, like the Co-op which rebranded itself with marvellous effrontery as ‘Co-op 26’.

So what were the positives? We had a good stall in Royal Exchange Square, courtesy of the council which had only got round to replying days before we were due to go. This was right next to a statue of Wellington on a horse, both of them long-time wearers of traffic cone hats which the council had apparently decided were fine examples of ‘Glasgow humour’ and which, believe it or not, now feature in official city guide books. We had some well-designed tall banners which made us stand out, so we probably ought to get some more of those. Around ten members were present, and enjoyed a great sense of comradeship that you can only really get by participating in practical activities like this, which is a very good reason for more members to get involved. That pint in the pub afterwards tastes even better when you feel like you’ve done something to deserve it.

Result-wise, we found that the leaflet called ‘Climate on Collision Course’ was popular with COP delegates at the bus stops waiting for the special conference buses. Less predictably, the leaflet entitled simply ‘End Capitalism’ was well received elsewhere, an indication perhaps of how climate change is affecting people’s views of the current social system.

We collected stats to see how many people who had received a leaflet had bothered to scan the QR code to go to our special landing pages on climate change, and found it was around 200, which for a total UK leaflet distribution of around 5,000 was a ratio of one in 25. This was a better result than we expected and one which suggests that the combination of a QR code plus special landing page is the approach we should take with future leafleting events. In fact, given that leafleting is something most members can do without much difficulty, there’s a case for making leafleting a bigger part of our general campaigning, perhaps by targeting individual cities one at a time.


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