Delegitimising Extinction Rebellion

Christopher Harries

Over the weekend, Janet Finch-Saunders MS in her capacity as Shadow Minister for Climate Change, Energy and Rural Affairs announced that she would not be meeting with the group Extinction Rebellion.

This decisive action, in response to the conduct of the organisation, should be applauded. Whatever the merits of the cause they advocate, Extinction Rebellion activists have managed to stray from acceptable political discourse into the fringes of extremism.

By deciding to not meet with the group, Finch-Saunders MS has demonstrated resolve. Meeting with individuals from a group whose co-founder advocated violence as a legitimate course of action would legitimise such an organisation and unpalatable behaviour. 

As the reality of Extinction Rebellion has become apparent, so politicians should seek to distance themselves from the organisation. That is not to say that politicians should ignore concerns about the environment, but to ensure that extremism is not legitimised simply because the group has some admirable goals namely concern over our environment.

Conservation is a principle at the heart of conservatism. We are but custodians of the earth, as part of the social contract between the present, the past and future generations we should aspire to preserve our environment. The decision taken by the Welsh Conservatives is not to abandon concern for the environment but to ensure that an extremist organisation does not receive legitimacy.  Let us hope that the Welsh Government will follow suit and deprive them of the veneer of legitimacy.

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