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It’s absurd to compare XR to the suffragettes

Extinction Rebellion bringing central London to a standstill in 2019. Tolga Akmen/AFP/Getty

Before yesterday’s London marathon, Extinction Rebellion (XR) and race officials bashed out a “negotiated peace deal” to avert large-scale disruption, says Janet Daley in The Sunday Telegraph. “Yes indeed, this is what it has come to.” Our government and police have “withdrawn from the field so visibly” that these activists can act like “autonomous rulers” bargaining and threatening the organisers of our civic events. The protection that the law is supposed to offer for the marathon was presumably disregarded, considered by all sides a “useless irrelevance”. Having granted its “august permission” for the race to go ahead, XR is now demanding the government agrees to create “citizens’ assemblies” in charge of deciding climate policy by Tuesday – or else they will “step up their actions in unspecified, presumably catastrophic, ways”.

Public opinion may regard this as “too risible to take seriously”. But we can’t ignore the gravity of what’s going on here: a “self-appointed mob” is unapologetically trying to usurp our democratic bodies. XR might compare their tactics to the Suffragettes, who chained themselves to railings and “generally created public havoc”. But these women were demanding the “right to participate in the democratic process”, understanding the value and legitimacy of our government institutions. By contrast, XR aims to arbitrarily impose their beliefs on law-abiding citizens, unbothered by the fact that they were “elected by no one”. These “entitled brats” can’t be left to run amok. Surrendering to eco-anarchists and their disregard for our laws “threatens democracy itself”.