What have environmentalists got against commuters? Not for the first time a group of bedraggled climate nuts have taken their argument for ‘radical’ action on global warming not to Downing Street or to Parliament Square, but to ordinary people just trying to go about their business.
Junctions have been blocked along the M25 near Kings Langley, Heathrow, Swanley, Godstone and Lakeside. This is the work of Insulate Britain, a single-issue Extinction Rebellion offshoot demanding action on home insulation. So far 42 have been arrested.
The protesters tweeted that they were ‘disrupting the M25’ to ‘demand the government insulate Britain’. And yet so far their primary achievement has been to infuriate people trying to get to work and potentially blocking emergency vehicles. Some drivers tried to drag protesters away as tempers flared.
One of the protesters this morning held up a placard bearing the words ‘Sorry To Stop You’. But they’re not, are they? Otherwise they wouldn’t be doing all this again. Indeed, obstructing ordinary people trying to get to work or do their jobs now appears to be an indispensable part of the eco-protester playbook.
Remember when Extinction Rebellion glued themselves to the DLR? Remember the Battle of Canning Town, where two XR types were ripped down from the top of a Jubilee Line train by enraged commuters? Or the occupation of Smithfield Market? These are actions targeted at workers rather than the powerful.
Insulate Britain, which wants all homes ‘decarbonised’ by 2030, says today is ‘just the start’ of its campaign. It says it is blocking the M25 to send a message to Boris Johnson and the government. One protester told LBC that they wouldn’t move until Boris gave them a pledge ‘that we can trust and is meaningful’.
During XR’s most recent amdram revolt across London, journalists would often ask protesters some version of the same question: aren’t these tactics going to alienate people, aren’t you going to lose the argument with the public? What is now crystal clear is that groups like this really couldn’t give a monkeys.
And why would they? The green policies these middle class deodorant-dodgers want to usher in would make working people’s lives harder and more expensive, while leaving their own businesses entirely untouched. How can you convince ordinary people of the wisdom of making their lives worse?
Housing insulation isn’t the half of it. Extinction Rebellion wants net zero carbon emissions by 2025, an even crazier deadline than the government’s own one of 2050. Given we still lack viable, cheap alternatives to fossil fuels, the costs of such policies will be enormous and paid disproportionately by the working class.
What we have here is a section of the upper middle classes trying to shame the political classes into ushering in eco-austerity faster than the current timetable. These groups aren’t trying to convince ordinary people – ordinary people are just collateral damage in their pressure campaign against an already pretty green government.
Ruining someone’s journey to work is the least of these protesters' worries. Theirs is a class war, masquerading as a climate war. The sooner we acknowledge that, the better.