Protests, demonstrations and pickets are allowed in the UK only if they have little or no effect. If they are effective then police shut them down using both lawful and unlawful tactics and politicians change the law to counter their success.
In their campaigns for tough action to tackle climate change Extinction Rebellion and associated activists help to increase public support for demands for anti-climate change policies by governments. The possibility of strong government policies to protect the environment horrifies the world’s biggest exploiters of people and resources. These exploiters, and their financial partners, investors, shareholders and creditors, are employers of the Tories.
Extinction Rebellion’s law-breaking includes obstructing the highway and mild criminal damage, the latter often via the use of paint. It is not an existential threat to civil society. It is not ISIS or the IRA, and it is not well-funded organised far-right thuggery and violence. However, it is a threat to some very wealthy corporations and their campadres in banking; therefore, the Tories choose to react to Extinction Rebellion as if the fabric of civilisation is teetering on the edge of an abyss of anarchy.
Current Tory Home Secretary knows who pays the Tories and, so, she expressed her determination to attack Extinction Rebellion in a speech at Police Superintendents’ Association conference on September 8th (2020). Her aim was to coalesce the government’s and the police’s agendas against Extinction Rebellion; Patel forgot that the police are not supposed to act with political intent.
The pertinent section of the speech is quoted below. Patel made no attempt to adhere to balanced analysis or facts. Her descriptions of the activists and their actions were melodramatic and stupid. Her intent was to rabble-rouse her audience of senior police officers. She wanted to implant in the minds of the police, and the public, the depiction of the entirety of Extinction Rebellion as a criminal organisation.
Extinction Rebellion is a loosely organised political movement. By classifying it as a criminal organisation Patel gave the police permission and instruction to harass anyone suspected of supporting it regardless of any acts committed.
The Tories intend to change the law to solidify their attitude to Extinction Rebellion. Patel’s speech was part of the PR to promote support for such a law change.
Priti Patel’s comments on Extinction Rebellion in her speech to Association of Police Superintendents:
“Now it is said that where there is no law there is no freedom, and that law and order is the cornerstone of our free society. And without it we have nothing. But events of the last week have exposed another emerging threat – the so-called eco-crusaders turned criminals. Attempting to thwart the media’s right to publish without fear nor favour. And a shameful attack on our way of life, our economy, and the livelihoods of the hardworking majority. I refuse point plank to allow that kind of anarchy on our streets. And I’m right behind you as you bring the full might of the law down upon that selfish minority. The very criminals who disrupt our free society must be stopped. And together we must all stand firm against the guerrilla tactics of Extinction Rebellion. And that means adapting to the threat that they pose and ensuring that justice is served.”
Transcript of full speech: Priti Patel