Insulate Britain M25 protester says fellow prisoners supported him and he’d do it all over again

·3-min read

An Insulate Britain protestor who was jailed for blocking the M25 said fellow prisoners supported him and that he would be willing to demonstrate again.

Louis McKechnie, a 21-year-old mechanical engineering student, served three months at HMP Thameside Prison for breaching a court injunction and was released on January 1 2022.

Mr McKechnie told LBC Radio that while he was “terrified” of going to prison, he found fellow prisoners were “empathetic” and “understanding” of his protesting and reasons for being there.

Mr McKechnie was one of nine Insulate Britain protestors who were given prison sentences for breaching an injunction by blockading the M25 during protests in October 2021. He was one of two given an immediate sentence.

He told LBC: “My experience of prison has emboldened me to take any future action regardless of whether prison is a consequence.

On whether he would risk imprisonment to protest again, he said: “If we’re able to save these 8,000 to 30,000 lives every year that are lost to fuel poverty, I would spend the rest in prison for that.”

Insulate Britain carried out a series of protests last year - including blockading popular roads and motorways across the UK such as the M25 - in order for the government to insulate all British homes by 2023 and better tackle the climate crisis.

In response, the government ordered a number of court injunctions banning the group’s demonstrations on busy roads.

On the disturbance that protests caused to the general public, Mr McKechnie said: “When we take this action, we accept whatever comes our way because of it. I accept that those people, we did mess up their days and they have a right to be angry at us. I don’t appreciate their responses but I can’t criticise them for them.”

He added: “I apologise to everybody that we’ve inconvenienced during this campaign. We don’t like inconveniencing the public - that’s the biggest turn off that we have of going this. We don’t like messing around normal, working-class people that are just trying to get on with their lives, but it doing so can save thousands of lives a year, we’ll keep doing it.”

The government have proposed further, legal crackdowns on protestors through the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill which aims to make provisions on how police can deal with protests.

On the Bill, Mr McKechnie said: “I feel the government has betrayed its people by this. Civil resistance ... is a cornerstone of democracy and time and time again, its worked for social change.

“By the government putting these new laws in,” he added, “they are threatening the very thing that keeps our democracy moving forward.”

Mr McKechnie urged the government to meet its targets regarding the climate crisis and said Insulate Britain’s protests can and will escalate if the government fails to meet its demands.

On his own future, Mr McKechnie said: “The climate crisis is going to make the future very, very difficult for my generation. People will die, there’ll be food shortages, there’s be floods, there’ll be tornadoes, there’ll be absolute catastrophes all over the world. We’re talking a billion refugees by 2050.

“I don’t want to see my generation have to go through that, and if acting now and losing myself the possibility of a stable future in the next decade or so, then I’m alright giving that up if it will protect the future of my generation over a longer time period.”

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