The right to democratic civil protest is an important one. But there’s a fine line in judging how far to go – between furthering a cause and alienating those you’re trying to win to the cause. It’s a line the M25 protesters would do well to observe.
From the civil rights movement in the US to the anti-apartheid movement in the UK, protesters have successfully pursued righteous causes by the use of civil disruption and boycotts, often at huge personal cost.
There are many worthwhile causes vying for our attention.
If the climate catastrophists are to be believed there’s only a short time to save the planet.
However, the methods of some eco warriors in pursuit of their beliefs might cause some folk to think it’s time to insulate them from the rest of humanity, possibly in padded cells.
The Insulate Britain M25 protesters are acting like a crazed and misguided mob who want to destroy livelihoods, and endanger lives as they blockade traffic on Britain’s busiest motorway.
World governments are addressing the complex issues of climate change with varying degrees of urgency and success.
As the COP26 summit in Glasgow approaches, people around the planet are finding ways to make their voices heard.
But when you block ambulances en route to a hospital don’t be surprised if you come to be viewed as a heartless cretin who is happy for someone else’s mum, dad, brother, sister, or child, to take one for the team.
Civil protest has a proud history
Civil protest has a long and honourable tradition in fighting injustice, but some of those in this Insulate Britain group display little of this honour.
Most folk accept that we need to stop burning carbon for our energy requirements.
However, reaching that green alternative future involves the securing of other metals and materials which come at a cost, both human and capital.
The grim exploitation of child labour is among those unacceptable costs.
— Insulate Britain (@InsulateLove) September 21, 2021
Eco campaigners wrap themselves in clothes produced in sweatshops from across the world.
They carry mobile phones and want electric cars, which need lithium, and also cobalt, which in some cases is mined by children, some as young as seven years old, in unregulated mining operations in DR Congo.
They live as we all do in houses heated by fossil fuels and travel to protests in diesel cars, trains and buses.
Those facts leave little room for their self-satisfied, smug double standards.
M25 oldies benefit from system
And it’s not just young protesters, who can at least be excused on the grounds of their youthful naivety.
Those silver haired eco protestors sitting on the M25 have time on their hands thanks to their secure pensions, provided by investment in the same capitalist system which is damaging the planet.
It’s the same system that supplies their clothing, phones, energy, and transport.
Maybe they need to look in the mirror at the two faces staring back at them too.
Some of them give the impression of wanting us to return to an imagined halcyon self-sufficient, pre industrialised nirvana.
Perhaps they have fond visions of a society where we gathered round camp fires with pan pipes and tambourines eating goa berries and dried seaweed, before retiring for the night to our thatched eco huts.
The Insulate Britain brigade on the M25 seem to me to be mainly middle class space cadets.
And they appear comfortably insulated from the realities facing the majority of workers who are trying to earn a living, but are being curtailed from doing so by their misguided protests.
Normal working folk are too busy grafting to keep the lights on and putting food on the table instead of super-gluing themselves to the tarmac.
Climate change fight needs working class
Climate change has to be addressed seriously and with urgency but blunderbuss tactics in the midst of a period when life both economically and socially has been turned on its head is self defeating.
Soaked in self righteous certainty their blithe dismissal of the needs of the rest of us trying to earn a living, is infuriating the majority who are already struggling with the double whammy of rising fuel prices and threats to employment.
Their arrogance risks the implosion of their cause, which would be ironic given that many of the folk whose lives are being upset by them actually have some sympathy with it.
The way to draw attention to and win the climate battle isn’t by making life tougher for, and alienating ordinary working folk.
It’s by using the democratic process to ensure our political representatives get the message and act on it.
If there’s a pressing need to block anything it’s not by penalising people going about their lawful business.
Better for their cause to take the campaign to Westminster and Holyrood and the people with the power to get something done.
And if they really want to live by their principles they can chuck their mobile phones in the recycling bin, switch off the heating this winter, and take cold showers.