‘Who are the New Extremists?’ - Extinction Rebellion UK
Is this what extremism looks like?

‘Who are the New Extremists?’

Leading politicians, fossil fuel and bank CEOs and newspaper and media bosses top Extinction Rebellion’s new list of people and organisations who fall foul of the government’s new definition of extremism.


It’s a rare and bizarre moment to see our increasingly odd government go hunting for a new breed of ‘extremists’ seeking to undermine democracy – only to discover that much of the UK’s political, business and media elite fit the bill.

But that’s where we are today.

A first glimpse of the government’s new definition of extremism, cobbled together by ‘independent’ adviser on political violence and disruption Lord Walney, was offered to the media on Thursday morning:

Extremism is the promotion or advancement of an ideology based on violence, hatred or intolerance, that aims to:

·           Negate or destroy the fundamental rights and freedoms of others; or

·           Undermine, overturn or replace the UK’s system of liberal parliamentary democracy and democratic rights; or

·           Intentionally create a permissive environment for others to achieve the results in (1) or (2).

In the House of Commons, Michael Gove, Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities said far right groups such as Patriotic Alternative and the British National Socialist Movement and Islamic organisations such as the Muslim Association of Britain could be on his new list of extremists.

We hate to put the Secretary of State or Lord Walney in an embarrassing position – honest! – but we have a question:

Why are the real New Extremists not on that list?

Surely, government ministers and MPs who dreamt up and nodded through the Public Order and Police, Crime, Courts and Sentencing Acts last year to make effective protest illegal are members of an ideology of ‘intolerance’?

Didn’t they act to ‘destroy fundamental rights and freedoms’ painstakingly gained by all of us over the centuries?

What about the fossil fuel CEOs busy making plans to dig and drill for more of the oil, gas and coal that will usher in a nightmare future of famine, super-storms, floods and war?

They must all deserve a place on the extremism list because their ideology of hidden violence, left unchecked, will result in a societal collapse that will ‘overturn the UK’s system of liberal parliamentary democracy.’

The leading bankers continuing to finance the fossil fuel crooks’ climate-wrecking plans? And the insurers issuing the insurance policies that make their new fossil projects financially possible?

A strong case can be made that they are creating a ‘permissive environment for others’ to destroy our democracy and our fundamental rights and freedoms.

Finally – and by no means least – what about the newspaper barons, Rupert Murdoch, owner of The Sun and Times, Viscount Rothermereowner of the Daily Mail, and Frederick Barclay, owner of the Telegraph, alongside far right TV broadcasters such as Paul Marshall, owner of GB News?

By peddling lies and disinformation about everything from the climate and ecological crisis and refugees to energy and electric cars to millions every day, and cheerleading attacks against activists, might we not suppose that they are ‘extremists’ promoting an ideology of hate, violence and intolerance?

Lord Walney’s full report will be released later this year. Ministers are hinting that they will release a longer list of organisations and movements that they claim fit their new definition of extremism over the next few weeks.

Luckily, Extinction Rebellion won’t need to wait for that.

We’ve always known who the real extremists are. And what we need to do about their ideologies of violence, hate, and intolerance.

That’s why, in 2024, we will be going all out to get the Citizens Assemblies for the Climate and Ecological Emergency that will take our future out of the hands of the political, corporate and media extremists and into the hands of us, the people.

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