George Monbiot to receive Gerrard Winstanley Spade Award for 2021

Controversial Guardian columnist and environmental activist George Monbiot is to receive this year’s Diggers’ Festival “Gerrard Winstanley Spade” award for his ‘outstanding contribution’ to the cause of making the Earth a common treasury for all, in the spirit of the 17th Century Wiganer in whose memory the award is named. 

The award has previously been presented to the late veteran Labour MP Tony Benn, Film Director Ken Loach, Writer Jimmy McGovern and local actor-activist Maxine Peake. 

Our first Gerrard Winstanley Spade in 2013 was awarded to Tony Benn. In addition to everything else he did, he helped to populise Winstanley’s writings in his later life and described the 17th Century Diggers as England’s “first true socialists”. As Tony was too ill to travel to our festival to receive the award in person, and sadly died before we were able to formally present it to him, the Spade was later received by Tony’s son Hilary Benn (shown below) on behalf of Tony’s family.
Hilary Benn, Ken Loach, Maxine Peake & Jimmy McGovern

Homeless campaigner Pauline Town and ‘We Shall Overcome’ musician, activist and campaigner Joe Solo are two more recent recipients.

This year’s award is also presented in recognition of George Monbiot’s ongoing fight, as his own website states: against “environmental destruction, undemocratic power, corruption, deception of the public, injustice, inequality and the misallocation of resources, waste, denial, the libertarianism which grants freedom to the powerful at the expense of the powerless….” and more recently his powerful advocacy of the need to overthrow Capitalism to stop the impending climate catastrophe. (See clips below)

On 1 April 1999, on the 350th anniversary of Gerrard Winstanley and the Diggers’ occupation, George Monbiot was famously involved in the organisation of  a rally and occupation of land at St. Georges Hill, near Weybridge, Surrey. (See Clip below)

George is absolutely delighted to be receiving the award, and had intended to be with us on Saturday to accept it in person. However, as he is now sadly unable to come to this year’s Festival, the Festival Committee will be organising a special event in Wigan later in the year to which George has agreed he will come to receive the award and additionally give us a talk on a subject yet to be decided. He has also agreed he will provide us with a short video for our social media platforms. Watch this space

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