JAN MOIR: Why I’m so pleased to see XR’s wanton vandalism… Each stunt and act of sedition is another nail in your coffin, not ours
Nothing warms the cockles of my heart more than members of Extinction Rebellion indulging in acts of wanton civic vandalism in the name of climate-change protest.
Good for them, I think, as the idiots glue themselves to another pavement or stop the traffic on a London bridge while waving tambourines.
Sometimes they attack mass transit systems or dig up the lawns at Cambridge’s Trinity College and all I can think is why not? Go for it, rebels. For each stunt and act of sedition is another nail in your coffin, not ours.
Three years after it first launched, the Extinction Rebellion (XR) shock factor has faded, the activists have worn out their welcome and, in the real world, public sympathisers are an increasingly endangered species.
Quite an achievement at a time when climate change issues have never been more crucial — but, increasingly, the activists seem little more than an irritating ragbag of Swampys and Henriettas amusing themselves between cider binges and trips to Reading Festival to abandon a tent and God knows what else in a field when no one is looking.
Three years after it first launched, the Extinction Rebellion (XR) shock factor has faded, the activists have worn out their welcome. Pictured: XR protest on London Bridge on August 31
Their number include the kind of anarchic eco-fascists who don’t care about ruining the trade of innocent shops and businesses that are merely collateral damage in any big city protest.
Indeed, some of them seem rather more interested in bringing down civilisation than saving the world. They say they mean well, but do they really?
In London, we are coming to the end of the latest XR assault on the city; a two-week campaign called Impossible Rebellion that seems indeed to have achieved the impossible — absolutely nothing.
It was supposed to highlight how the Square Mile is home to the ‘arch financiers of the carbon economy’ and to this end, a bunch of tooled-up protesters advanced upon the offices of JPMorgan on Wednesday morning.
The bank’s crime is to invest in fossil fuel industries and its punishment was to have the glass walls of its entrance foyer smashed by women armed with chisels and hammers adorned with the words ‘live’, ‘laugh’ and ‘love’.
I had fondly imagined that a love chisel was some kind of porn film euphemism instead of a weapon designed to bring down capitalism, but you live and learn.
What does such an act achieve? At some point JPMorgan will have to call out a glazier, order new glass and fix the damage, all of this involving more trips in petrol-guzzling vans pumping out carbon emissions. XR is not moving on, it is moving backwards.
Last weekend, protesters were seen off by police outside the Science Museum, near my home in London.
In London, it is the end of a two-week campaign called Impossible Rebellion that seems to have achieved nothing. Pictured: Paint is sprayed on the City of London Corporation building during XR protest on August 27
‘Why are you putting me in handcuffs?’ screamed a bolshie Henrietta. ‘Because I am arresting you,’ sighed a long-suffering constable.
A police helicopter clattered overhead for what seemed like hours, causing even more environmental damage.
To date, the Metropolitan Police has spent more than £50 million trying to contain these XR protests; no wonder everyone is utterly fed up with this nonsense.
XR defend causing criminal damage by claiming that such tactics are sometimes necessary — but to what end?
Over the past few years banks, financial institutions, energy firms and media organisations have all been at the mercy of these activists trying to ‘draw attention’ to various causes.
However, the news focus is always on the extrovert antics of the protesters themselves, not what they are protesting about.
Perhaps, deep down, this is what they really want. The glory of acclaim, the thrill of being noticed at last, even if they are wearing an oil can on their head.
What is regrettable is that the green movement had made such excellent strides, alerting the public to the dangers of pollution, plastic in the oceans and other matters.
Now the XR lunatic fringe has made caring about climate change look unhinged and irrational — catastrophic at a time when there is an urgent need to capture the hearts and minds of a reluctant public, and not turn them off with showboating acts of civil disobedience.
Governments cannot be browbeaten into doing anything, especially when citizens refuse to do their bit or make a sacrifice. And you can’t blame them, especially when they are confronted with the hypocrisy of others.
Mums won’t give up disposable nappies, festival-goers won’t clear up their mess, families leave their rubbish on beaches (clearly no lessons have been learned from the Wombles) and steaks and sausages continue to be enjoyed with relish.
The Metropolitan Police has spent more than £50 million trying to contain these XR protests, no wonder everyone is utterly fed up. Pictured: XR protest on London Bridge on August 31
Meanwhile, Prince Harry still travels in private jets, Emma Watson still takes helicopters, Allegra Stratton — government spokesperson for the COP26 climate summit — continues to drive a diesel car because it ‘suits me better’ than an electric one.
There is much work to be done, but where to start? Certainly, it is much more fun to have a drum circle at Oxford Circus, to indulge in what increasingly looks like protest for protest’s sake, than to deny yourself anything.
Or even come up with a practical solution to tackle climate change, apart from — wait for it — a ‘citizens’ assembly’ made up of its own members. What a joke.
XR imagines it is in the centre of the crucible, where the new world is being reborn. Instead, it is a much disliked disruptive group rampaging around the sidelines, seemingly incapable of leading anyone out of a crisis.
All these counter-productive actions instigated by fanatical leaders make it seem complicit in the destruction of the planet, rather than playing any vital role in saving it. And no one ever swayed opinion or became popular by being a bloody nuisance.
A RETURN TO NORMALITY? LET’S SHAKE ON THAT…
If we ever do return to normal in the post-Covid world, I suspect that few of us would miss social kissing. When did all that nonsense even start?
I can almost remember a time when we British did not kiss each other on the cheek when introduced.
One day we were all stiff-upper-lips and spats and after-you, no after-you. The next we are mired in fancy European ways, from Perrier water to duvets and thence to this kissing nonsense.
One kiss or two? Perhaps even three? It has never seemed right. However, handshaking is something else. I do hope handshakes are not going to die out.
Some experts say that the human subconscious decides in four seconds whether we like a person or not upon first acquaintance. And a handshake goes a long way to providing another useful and instant guide to character.
Firm, damp, strong, tentative, trembling? Fair or unfair, it says something about a person. Pleased to meet you! Or maybe not.
RONALDO MIGHT NOT ENJOY BEING REUNITED
Cristiano Ronaldo is returning to Manchester United, which must be exciting news for fans and even more so for club shareholders, who have seen their stock rocket since the announcement of the £12.8 million signing.
Ronaldo says he is ‘back where he belongs’ and has dedicated his return to former boss Sir Alex Ferguson. Who of course is no longer managing at the club.
Cristiano Ronaldo (pictured with girlfriend Georgina Rodriguez) is returning to Manchester United and although he may be back in the place he once loved, he is no longer the same man
Ronaldo seems like the ultimate professional — and that’s about the extent of my footballing expertise. No doubt this move is a wise, pragmatic and financially based decision, I do hope so.
For in life, as on the football pitch, it is almost always a mistake to go back. For everything has changed, not least of all yourself.
Ronaldo may be back in the same place that he once loved, but he is no longer the same man. Everything will be different, and not always in a good way.
Meanwhile, I do wonder what his glamorous girlfriend, Georgina Rodriguez will make of life in Manchester, even allowing for the many charms of the boutiques of Alderley Edge.
Boosters. Yes or no? Perhaps it is unfair that many developing countries have yet to get their share of vaccines, but we have come this far and cannot go back now.
No one knows how the approaching winter will affect Covid rates, nor how much immunity we all have left.
The situation in Israel, where the efficacy of vaccines has faded and led to a new wave of infections, is a sobering warning. If not a completely terrifying one.
Boost away is what I say.
Time for this column’s AAHM! moment — the Annual Adoration of Helen Mirren. Look at her!
The 76-year-old sailed into the Venice Film Festival looking like something that should be carved onto the prow of a ship, let alone star in a movie.
Silvered, varnished, corseted and groomed, Dame Helen exuded the crisp starch of proper, old-fashioned Hollywood.
Accessorised to the hilt with a matching silver face mask and handbag combo, she braved high heels, wore her hair long and proved that glamour is timeless.
Helen Mirren, 76, sailed into the Venice Film Festival with her husband Taylor Hackford exuding the crisp starch of proper, old-fashioned Hollywood
Perhaps even more remarkably, she was there to promote The Duke, the film in which she stars as downtrodden Dorothy, the Geordie wife of art thief Kempton Bunton, played by Jim Broadbent.
‘Yes I am shocked, there is a stolen masterpiece in me wardrobe,’ she cries in one scene, dormouse-drab in her cardigan and freshly baked perm.
Jim Broadbent looks like Jim Broadbent, on and off screen. But Dame Helen never stops being a wonder.
No, stop. It simply cannot be autumn already. For here in London, summer has barely begun.
On a trip to Scotland last week, what a joy it was to experience a few days of lambent weather, of long, light evenings and, yes, even a drop of warmth in the sun.
At least north of the border they seem to have had some semblance of a summer. Down south it has been a washout, although I don’t expect any sympathy.
Usually at this time of year, I long to return to opaque tights and cups of hot chocolate, but please, gods of weather, not just yet!
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