Is the “Extinction Rebellion” movement guilty of terrorism ?

Two young Right wing political commentators have this week accused the “Extinction Rebellion” movement of eco-terrorism.  I disagree profoundly. And yes, I am a Conservative political campaigner. But on this platform I seek to articulate the principles of Right wing thinking.  This platform seeks to avoid the superficial foolishness of much right wing comment and instead examine the evidence according to clear conservative thinking – in the case of this blog, the principles outlined by Edmund Burke in his Reflections on the Revolution in France.

Firstly, let me point out that the public comments of these two young men are provided via the links given at the close of this post.  The thesis is the same in both, and I will consider only what appears to be the first and most informed of the two, that published by the UK newspaper the Daily Mail on August 24th 2021.  The article in question was written by Tom Harwood, political correspondent for the recently launched online platform, GBNews.

Harwood is 25 years old today, 26th August 2021, and has already made his name in Britain as an outspoken critic of political correctness. He is a young man of keen insight who can readily flag up the inherent nonsense of so much Left wing ideological outrage. Harwood has a degree in politics from a leading English university and is already well known on the British political scene. Given his impressive track record, he appears to have a bright future before him. Which is why he should review his latest comment.  Indeed the Right in general should examine the basis and context of its comments.

So let me examine what Tom Harwood’s article for the Daily Mail represents – and thereby indicate what it should endeavour to do instead.

Firstly, the tone of the article reflects the attitude of the author. It demonstrates the general problem we have with political debate and with the media portrayal of politics in western democracies.

Politics generally suffers from Harwood’s willingness to represent opponents as extremist – “eco-terrorists” – and as a lunatic fringe not worth considering – “cranks”. This is not how to discuss serious issues, especially as this is precisely the pernicious propaganda tactic used by Left wing ideologues when referring to the Right.

This also flags up the problem with the behaviour of the media: HYPE ! Extreme language is used deliberately to grab attention and boost readership, regardless of the need for a serious examination of the issues and their wider context. This drives people apart, destroys regard for others views, and encourages a merely emotional reaction where considered, rational reflection is manifestly needed.

The first question to ask when faced by any abnormal, publicity seeking behaviour is “Why are they adopting such measures ?” – and I would suggest that question must even be asked about real terrorist behaviour. The historical record of terrorism around the world suggests that a serious grievance usually lies behind such terrible tactics. That record speaks volumes. I do not in any way condone such behaviour – it is literally against my Faith. But as a responsible person commenting on politics, I believe it is essential to ask questions, examine the evidence and come to realistic conclusions. Unrealistic questions or conclusions are useless.

Suggesting that Extinction Rebellion are terrorists is extreme and untrue. Real terrorists use the cold blooded murder of innocent of people as a tactic or weapon in their campaign to impose their view of the world on governments and on society. Murder, arson and abduction are means deployed to bend the will of the authorities to obey the terrorist’s claims and aims.

It is outrageous to suggest that the civil disorder campaign of Extinction Rebellion has any relationship with such activity. It is so outrageous it does serious harm both to Harwood’s credibility and to the right wing cause he espouses.

Tom Harwood cites extracts from the Terrorism Act 2000 to support his case. Those extracts are so vague that they can all too easily be applied to people and events which are not terrorism. My view is that such an Act should not be on the Statute book if it can be interpreted in such a wide way. Indeed, like so much modern legislation, it is actually superfluous. It reflects the modern notion that our traditional criminal law was inadequate to meet modern conditions. Utter rubbish ! Murder was always murder, and arson was always arson. Such modern laws invite political interpretation according to opinion or viewpoint –  and that is what Tom Harwood is doing in his article and what the police have themselves done.

Tom Harwood has his view of ecology and the effectiveness of government action. But the people he discounts so easily are genuinely alarmed at the state of the planet and by research and evidence which suggests that governmental responses are woefully inadequate political fudges which fail to meet the urgency of the moment.

Greens have every right to their views. They have every right to express their views. They have every right to lobby for redress of their grievance.  It’s called democracy, and I refer you to my explanation of Democracy on the menu above.  If Green campaigners resort to unorthodox tactics, that may mean

  • the main stream media only pays attention when there is a fuss
  • the Green lobby is seriously under-represented in the UK House of Commons

Let’s address the fundamental issues in play, not stoke division.

Ray Catlin

By Conservatism Institute

The profile photograph displayed on this site is a portrait of Edmund Burke [1729 - 1797] whose book, Reflections on the Revolution in France, articulates the perspective and principles associated with a conservative view of politics in the English tradition. The photograph is supplied courtesy of

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