Extinction rebellion

Who put the toddlers in charge?

Regrettably, we must conclude that our culture is being dictated by two-year-olds. I do not literally mean children of two years of age, some of whom are among my favourite conversationalists. I mean people with the mental age of a two-year-old. That is, people who have never been told ‘no’ and have gone through their adult lives behaving as such. These are people who have never been told ‘no’ and have gone through their adult lives behaving as such The rot began with the green lunatics. I’m all for saving the environment. Most people are. But the moment vandalism became an acceptable way to persuade people of your cause was

A split within the radical green movement was inevitable

Ever since Monty Python created their internecine, bickering and ridiculous groups of freedom fighters – the People’s Front of Judea and the Judean People’s Front – for their 1979 film The Life of Brian, it’s always been easy and tempting to mock and deride the fissiparous nature of ideologues and tin-pot revolutionaries. Those who believe in the purity of a cause tend to have a semi-religious mindset – and consequently one semi-divorced from reality – which brooks no heresy from orthodoxy. Thus extreme, quasi-cult movements are always prone to split into factions. And so it goes with the radical green movement, which at its worst excesses does resemble a bizarre cult: witness

Kill the Bill!

The more you study what is going on with the Just Stop Oil protests and the Public Order Bill, the more weird and inconsistent our national attitude to protesters seems. Britain, according to those opposed to the Bill, is a police state. If you look at their response to the Just Stop Oil protests, however, we look like pushovers. It would be easy to come to the conclusion, watching protesters block roads and the police often just stand and watch, that Britain is in desperate need of more laws to deal with this kind of thing: to make it clear that yes, everyone has the right to protest but no,

How to stop Just Stop Oil

The National Gallery is home to Van Gogh’s still life Sunflowers. It’s an oil on canvas that, according to the Times, has been valued at £75 million. It is a cherished work of modern European art and one of the most important to come from the post-impressionist movement. This morning, two activists from Just Stop Oil went into Room 43 of the National Gallery and drenched Sunflowers in Heinz cream of tomato soup, before glueing themselves to the wall. One of the young women said:  Is art worth more than life? More than food? More than justice? The cost of living crisis is driven by fossil fuels. Everyday life has become

It’s time to clamp down on militant protesters

The right to protest against the policies of the government of the day, the system in general or even just to ‘stick it to the man’, as 1960s radicals used to put it, is fundamental to a free society. But when the freedom to protest is deliberately used by activists to take away the freedom of others to go about their normal lives then we reach an ethical crunch point. One man’s freedom has then become, as it were, another’s suppression and the law must adjudicate between the competing claims. So it is with the campaign tactics of various climate alarmist groups that have sprung up such as Extinction Rebellion,

The Colston verdict is the triumph of values, not law

The verdict is in on the case of the Colston statue in Bristol. Not guilty. Every one of the accused is innocent. And I mean that: everyone is innocent until proven guilty. If found not guilty, they must — at all times — have retained their innocence. But something feels wrong. Eminent lawyers have described the verdict as both absurd and perverse. In the UK we ‘relate’ to law. We aren’t taught it in schools. Our parents, teachers, instead introduce it to us by osmosis. We have a feel for it, a grasp of it. We might have felt we knew what criminal damage was, and we might have felt that

The snobbery of Extinction Rebellion’s Amazon blockade

Every week brings fresh proof of what a bunch of bourgeois snobs Extinction Rebellion are. The latest exhibit is their blockading of Amazon’s main distribution centres. The eco-loons and their apologists are dressing this up as a principled stand against venal capitalism. Pull the other one. This is just a noisy middle-class moan about the greedy masses and all the ‘crap’ we’re planning to buy on Black Friday. Yes, not content with irritating deliverymen, builders and other productive members of the working classes by plonking themselves on the M25 and other major roads a few weeks ago, now XR is trying to stop us from getting the things we’ve ordered

Insulate Britain are not martyrs

Throughout the Insulate Britain protests there was a suspicion that the group was deliberately trying to get its members behind bars during the COP26 conference — a suspicion that was enhanced when a spokesperson for the group told the Guardian on 24 October:  It’s fair to say that there is absolute disbelief and surprise that the campaign has lasted this long. We assumed that we would not be allowed to carry on disrupting the motorway network to the extent we have been. We thought that people would basically be in prison… if our actions are as dangerous and as disruptive as is being claimed, then I think the question has to

The perverse fantasies of XR’s founder

If we don’t cut carbon emissions, your mother will be raped. This is the deranged prediction of Roger Hallam, the weird-beard co-founder of Extinction Rebellion. Eco-doomsters used to say the ice caps would melt and polar bears would perish unless we all went green. Now they’re upping the ante. Now they’re prophesising gang rape, murder and war if you don’t shrink your eco-footprint. Better get recycling. Hallam’s nutty foretelling of an epidemic of rape appears in a piece of writing titled ‘Advice to Young People, as you Face Annihilation’. He’s a cheery soul, isn’t he? Apparently he wrote it when he was in jail for four weeks last year on

The truth about Extinction Rebellion’s ‘climate warfare’

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

The law is not fit to stop Extinction Rebellion’s street protests

Extinction Rebellion (XR) are once again blocking London’s streets, reportedly emboldened by the Supreme Court’s recent Ziegler decision – which found that deliberately blocking roads can be lawful protest. The police maintain that the judgment does not substantially change the law and that XR, like everyone else, has a right to assemble and protest but not to cause serious disruption to the community or to hold the streets to ransom. But while the judgment is not a sea change in the law – whatever some protestors may now say – it does reveal that the law as it stands is failing to adequately protect the public’s right to use the

The problem with the Met’s morality policing

Ah, the last days of summer. Long evenings, sunny weekends, and crusty Extinction Rebellion hippies blocking arterial traffic lanes to the audible grinding of teeth from the police officers tasked with standing by and politely watching their sub-art-school amdram productions, rather than getting on with the business of giving them a much-needed hosing down with Boris’s water cannons. As Charlie Peters has pointed out for the Mail, the impression of police impotence has nothing to do with the willingness of the bobby on the beat to break out a truncheon and apply it liberally to the thorax of middle-class graduates enjoying their day off by making everyone else late for

Extinction Rebellion and the hypocrisy of the new eco-elite

Do you ever get the feeling that the elites are just taking the mick? That behind our backs they’re high-fiving each other and saying, ‘I can’t believe we’re still getting away with this?’ I do. Especially on the climate-change issue. The gall of an establishment that lives it up in carbon-fuelled luxury while telling the rest of us to stop being so eco-destructive really has become too much to take. Eco-hypocrisy abounds. Take John Kerry. He is Joe Biden’s climate-change envoy, which basically means his job is to wag his finger at the entire world for being so dirty and polluting. And yet there he was a few weeks ago

Don’t ‘Kill the Bill’

Are the rights of protesters and the rights of all other citizens fairly balanced? Think back to the Extinction Rebellion protests of April 2019, when climate activists chose to ‘peacefully occupy the centres of power and shut them down’, as they put it, including the heart of London. The protests, organised globally, were perhaps the most disruptive in history. A small number of people managed to stop hundreds of thousands more going about their daily lives. People could not get to work, see family and friends or go shopping, because the streets were blocked by an extensive series of roadblocks and other tactics. At one point, printing presses were blockaded,

The economic illiteracy of anti-capitalists

Back in October, World Bank chief economist Carmen Reinhart recommended that countries borrow heavily during the pandemic. ‘First, you worry about fighting the war,’ she said, ‘then you figure out how to pay for it’. As thousands of mask-free demonstrators took to the streets of London this weekend to campaign on issues ranging from Palestine to climate change, you have to wonder: are we still at war? And does anyone care about the economy anymore? It has been apparent for some time — though it may continue to confound psephologists — that issues such as identity, patriotism and culture are more important to the electorate than economic concerns. That the

What do Extinction Rebellion have against a free press?

One can only hope that the profound political thinkers of Extinction Rebellion took care not to dump cow manure on the wrong steps when they descended en masse to Kensington this week. According to the group, which used the somewhat confusing ‘#Freethepress’ slogan, the target of their protest was Northcliffe House, home of the Daily Mail. Annoyingly for the eco-warriors though, the paper is based in the same building as the Independent, which unfortunately shares pretty similar beliefs to XR: that we are all doomed and will shortly be fried to a crisp by the sun, unless rising sea levels drown us all first. As part of the stunt, XR

The shifting language of shame

As his tweed jacket flapped open to one side of his stomach, my husband stood up unsteadily and arched his arm, jabbing his finger towards me and chanting: ‘Shame on you! Shame on you!’ It didn’t work, because I’ve been living with him so long that, as Berowne says in Love’s Labour’s Lost, ‘We are shame-proof’. His little performance was in response to some news item about Tell the Truth, a spin-off of Extinction Rebellion. Its members don’t actually want journalists to tell the truth, but to do as they say. Their first ‘demand’ is that the climate crisis ‘must be front-page news every single day’. They also demand we

A woke church is doomed to fail

My church attendance leaves something to be desired and I can’t cite Bible verses for every occasion. Yet for as long as I can remember, I have been a staunch supporter of the Christian church. But while I’m always willing to speak up for the church, it is not always willing to defend itself. Iceland became a Christian country over a thousand years ago. Here, as in other Western countries, the teachings of Christianity and the work of the church have been enormously influential in shaping our societies. Yet all too often nowadays, the church in Western societies is silent on the issues that matter. All too often, it fails to

All protests are not equal in the eyes of the police

I’ve never been a great fan of public demonstrations. When I was at university, one of the great causes du jour involved a bus company owned by a man accused of not much liking the gays. My generation were short on causes, so intermittently there would be a call for direct action against the bigoted buses. I slipped along once, not sure whether I really wanted to join in. Apart from the sight of a few dozen callow students preventing one of the guilty buses from progressing up the High Street, my main memory is the almost animalistic rage of a number of the bus’s passengers. Unable to be heard

Portrait of the week: Case takes over civil service, Zoom profits rocket and Ocado adopts M&S

Home Simon Case, aged 41, the private secretary to the Duke of Cambridge 2018-20, was appointed Cabinet Secretary and Head of the Civil Service, in succession to Sir Mark Sedwill. A civil servant since 2006, Case had been Permanent Secretary at Downing Street since May. Six days earlier, Jonathan Slater was dismissed as Permanent Secretary at the Department of Education. Piers Corbyn, the elder brother of Jeremy Corbyn, the former leader of the Labour party, was given a penalty without trial of £10,000 for his part in organising a rally in Trafalgar Square calling for the repeal of the Coronavirus Act, passed in March, which gave the government sweeping powers.