LBC Views: Insulate Britain activists really want to go to prison

8 October 2021, 18:01

LBC Views: Insulate Britain activists really want to go to prison
LBC Views: Insulate Britain activists really want to go to prison. Picture: LBC
Rachael Venables

By Rachael Venables

Here’s the issue. Climate activists from Insulate Britain really want to go to prison.

In fact, on the very first day of their actions, one protester welled up as he looked me in the eye and said: “I know I’m going to jail."

He then stepped onto the road, so starting a cycle of disruption and chaos that has impacted countless drivers, seized the news agenda and been a massive resource drain across five police forces.

But to Insulate Britain activists it’s about more than just ‘accepting’ prison, as a key part of their plans are to embarrass the Prime Minister on the world stage; the man who only recently himself told the world to ‘grow up’ on the climate crisis, quoting Kermit the Frog before swearing "it’s easy to be green".

If Plan A doesn’t work, and the activists don’t get a Government promise to insulate all homes in Britain, then they want Boris Johnson to have the shame of dozens of climate change activists in jail when the UK hosts COP26 next month.

That’s why the injunctions and threat of jail haven’t scared them off. That’s why they just keep on coming back.

The second thing we have to remember is that Insulate Britain clearly believe any publicity is good publicity.

That’s why they’ve been so unfazed in the face of pleading motorists, risks to life, a woman desperate to get to her mum in hospital; because they’re so focused on the greater threat of the bigger climate picture.

If I challenge them about ‘one life now at risk in an ambulance', they just tell me about the millions who will die or be displaced in a future climate breakdown.

If I ask them about the drivers losing money who can’t get to work, they talk about the thousands they say who die each year in fuel poverty.

It’s protest ‘whataboutery'. They firmly believe the ends justify the means.

They’ve certainly created a fascinating ethical debate about the use of direct action.

But in the here and now, with public support in such short supply, can they really force the Government into doing what they want?

Or, will Ministers, relishing the fight, simply lock away the group who caused such misery to ordinary working people, turn the key, and quickly forget all about them?