Belsize campaigner protests on suffragette anniversary

A Belsize climate change campaigner, currently facing jail for taking her protest to the rooftop of parliament, has organised a huge public demonstration against the government s lack of environmental action. Tamsin Omond, a 23-year-old Cambridge graduate

A Belsize climate change campaigner, currently facing jail for taking her protest to the rooftop of parliament, has organised a huge public demonstration against the government's lack of environmental action.

Tamsin Omond, a 23-year-old Cambridge graduate, has single-handedly organised the event for Parliament Square on October 13 to coincide with the 100th anniversary of the Suffragettes' rush on the Palace of Westminster.

Despite being denied the option of handing a petition to parliament on the day because of her current legal battle, she is hopeful she can help make a crucial difference.

"Women a 100 years ago did this fantastic thing - 60,000 of them joined together," she said. "People living in that society didn't see anything wrong, but the Suffragettes showed them what was wrong.

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"They refused to let people sit back comfortably, and this is the way direct action works. It is tough and stubborn and won't shut up.

"This could be a defining moment for us and this is actually a much bigger issue - it is about the future of everyone on this earth.

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"I am proud of the Suffragettes, what they achieved and how they achieved it. This was an issue the government and society wasn't ready to change. It is the most vulnerable who are the first to suffer from climate change and they are already suffering."

Local speakers will form the crux of the central London event on Monday night, with South End Green's human rights activist Sam Roddick and Bloomsbury-based Green Party leader Caroline Lucas taking to the podium. They will be joined by author Rosie Boycott and head of the Women's Institute, Joy Greasley.

The plan is an ambitious one for any campaigner but is especially unusual from a woman who doesn't easily fit into the mould of environmental firebrand.

Until recently, the devout Christian worked at the Parish Church of St Mary the Virgin in Primrose Hill as an administrator.

In March, she and four colleagues from campaign group Plane Stupid took to the roof of parliament to oppose the proposed third runway for Heathrow airport, an action for which they are facing jail in a trial fixed for next month.

Although she admits many people are not "comfortable with her tactics", she thinks majority opinion is turning because people believe they need to act to force social change.

"There is a big frustration at the moment. No-one knows why they feel so dissatisfied," she said. "People are ready for a change and feel bloated by society and are starting to think their lives are lacking a moral dimension.

"What is needed is people standing up and saying, 'I am sick of being left out of the political decision making'. Depending on how successful it is I'll know if this action is worth it. If it's a failure it's only a month I've spent organising it and if it's a success it will be, 'wow, it only took a month'."

In preparation, Ms Omond took to Parliament Square last Thursday handing out sashes to back the campaign, hanging them on Nelson Mandela's statue.

She is urging people to attend and make their voices heard at the event, which starts at 5.30pm and will hopefully attract an eclectic crowd from both sexes, hoping to follow in the Suffragettes' footsteps.

"To follow the Suffragettes this has to be a mass movement, rather than an event for people already in the climate change movement," Ms Omond said.

"We have a group of mums from Chiswick taking part, people I've met through feminist networking, LBGT networking, church networking and different faith groups, and even mother and toddler clubs."

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o As well as an update on the protest, the Ham&High is publishing a special feature marking the 100th anniversary of the Suffragettes next week. If you have a story to tell, contact us on 020-7433 6217.

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