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The Fracked Future CanivalStuart Griffiths

Vivienne Westwood leads the London Fracked Future march

The grande dame of protest fashion took to the streets against the controversial drilling process

Dame Vivienne Westwood led hundreds of protesters on an anti-fracking march through London yesterday, culminating in a protest outside the Shale Gas Forum, a business conference held by exponents of the controversial gas extraction process.

"We’ve got a war to stop climate change," Westwood told Dazed, "and the first battle is to stop the government from forcing fracking on people."

Over her decades-long career in fashion Westwood has emerged as queen of anti-establishment: she’s as happy jumping in the shower for PETA as she is inventing punk. Most recently, she’s thrown her support behind the anti-fracking cause as part and parcel of her Climate Revolution campaign against environmental destruction, visiting the Balcombe anti-fracking protest camp and calling David Cameron out on his "outrageous" support of fracking. 

"The only thing that can save us is public opinion," Westwood told the gathered crowds of protesters in a speech. "The public have been misinformed: fracking pumps millions of gallons of water deep into the earth and in that water is poison and chemicals which split the rock and release the gas."

"One of the many poisons is sulfuric acid,” she explained. "If anyone drank a teaspoon of sulfuric acid, they would die. This is what the government is prepared to do – not only poison the water, but poison the whole ground. Can fracking be clean? It’s a total lie."

Described as a "fracked future" carnival, protesters waved banners as a double-decker bus hired by Westwood herself blared tracks like “The Man From C&A” by The Specials. Many were dressed as zombies: “the zombie is the shell where inside it’s decaying,” one costumed girl explained. “It represents the system where the lobbyists have power over the government.” 

The demo ended peacefully, with no arrests. Despite the non-violent nature of most anti-fracking protests, the government has come down hard on the movement, with multiple arrests at previous marches and camps, including the arrest of Green MP Caroline Lucas in Balcombe and accusations of police brutality in Barton Moss, a protest camp outside a drill site in Salford, Manchester. 

Watch Vivienne Westwood talk about her double life of fashion and protest in our documentary: