What would Wat Tyler have done?

The Climate Camp, which has been the focus of much overblown angst amongst the police this week, has finally revealed its secret location: Blackheath. The site has apparently been chosen for its historical connections, as the place where Wat Tyler rallied his army during the Peasants' Revolt in 1381. But is Wat an appropriate figurehead for what the Climate Campers want, or is he being hijacked wrongly?


Ironically, the two issues over which the Peasants revolted in 1381 were:

    • Excessive taxation of the poor.

    • Centralised state control of prices - in the aftermath of the Black Death, the number of farm labourers was reduced, so the price for their labour rose. The state sought to set prices artificially through legislation, and the peasants opposed this.

What is it that the climate campers want? Well, let's see:

    • Higher taxes on: petrol, air travel, production of goods, electricity and gas.

    • Centralised state control of prices.

Hmm. I get the impression that if Wat and the Campers were on Blackheath together rather than 628 years apart, they wouldn't all be signing Kumbayah together and making each other friendship bracelets, there would be an almighty scrap probably involving pitchforks.


The Climate Camp movement is part of the really extremist end of the environmentalist movement, who would happily impose vast increases in the cost of living for some of the poorest in our society. Already, as a result of green policies the average domestic energy bill is 14% higher than it would otherwise be. Millions of people who need to drive to work pay huge bills, far in excess of the social cost of their carbon emissions, of which the vast majority is taxation. (If you want to find out your own green tax bill, our Green Tax Calculator is here.)


Is this a new Peasants' Revolt? No, it is a small movement of political extremes and wealthy individuals who given half a chance would do the real poor immense harm. If they were in charge, then the real Peasants would be on the march.


PS: It's also been pointed out to me that the first action of the campers when they arrived on the Heath, which has been common land for a thousand years, was to erm fence it off.

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