Climate Resistance vs. Extinction Rebellion

by | Dec 22, 2020

Earlier this month, I debated Extinction Rebellion co-founder, Roger Hallam on Darren Grimes‘ Youtube show, Reasoned.

If you don’t know Darren yet, you should. He started a Brexit campaign for young people and students, and drew the intense ire of the anti-Brexit establishment and media, including press smear campaigns that resulted in accusations of illegalities, resulting in several court cases. Big mistake. They lost. And he has fired back on all cylinders, making a name for himself as an independent journalist. They have never forgiven him.

Extinction Rebellion and Roger Hallam need no introduction here, of course.

Some were expecting fireworks. But I found Roger likable and reasonable, despite our being essentially political enemies. We discussed those differences, and Roger was accepting of much of the criticism. We even found some agreement, of sorts.

One point of agreement was our views of the state of democracy. I think Roger genuinely wants there to be a democracy. However, I think he hopelessly misconceives democracy and its problems. He believes citizens’ assemblies, or sortition — the random selection of members of the public to make political decisions — are solutions to what appears to be the terminal point of British representative democracy.

However, I try to argue that the establishment, too, would rather do away with representative democracy, and to appoint citizens’ assemblies that it controls — which is exactly what happened with the UK Climate Assembly (much more on which will be discussed here later). He thinks the government and MPs are reluctant to follow a radical climate agenda, whereas I argue that they would like nothing more, but have been held back by fear of a public backlash. He believes, not unlike the politicians, technocrats and ministers that organised the Assembly, that once you explain things to people, they simply agree with you.

The next few years will be the test of our debate. Net Zero is going to be imposed on the British public, and in the words of one outgoing civil servant, “they don’t know what they’re in for”.

Watch here.




  1. RexAlan

    “they don’t know what they’re in for”. And may I add they don’t want it, not even a bar of it.

  2. geoff chambers

    “..I try to argue that the establishment, too, would rather do away with representative democracy, and to appoint citizens’ assemblies that it controls — which is exactly what happened with the UK Climate Assembly (much more on which will be discussed here later).”

    I look forward to that. Criticism of the Climate Assembly at the time concentrated on procedure (possible bias in the selection of members etc.) which was actually pretty thorough and reasonable. The real travesty of democratic procedure was in the priming by experts. Members got just 20 minutes of explanation of what climate change is, of which ten minutes by an actual scientist, who was incoherent and ill-prepared. There was no a lternative view presented, not even an acknowledgement that alternative views were possible. And no-one questioned it.

    This was the managed destruction of democracy. The parliamentary version (the only version currently available) is infinitely preferable.

  3. David H Bolton

    There does appear to be a number of different groups all opposing the green blob in their own way but without any kind of coordination. I’m thinking GWPF, some writers on Quora (John Walker, James Matkin), WattsupwithThat and bloggers like yourself and probably a lot more.

    I feel we need to start campaigning as one to get a voice that can be heard. Things like demanding extraordinary evidence for all the extraordinary claims that people like XR push. Climate crisis. Indeed. Anytime this is mentioned there should be strong push back. We still have snow, sea level rises aren’t accelerating and so on. How many more failed predictions do we have to put up with and why are major policies like Net Zero going undebated?

    Some other phrases which we should be pushing are fuel poverty- already demonstrated in Germany (something like 800,000 people) and transport poverty which I fear the UK will also experience onepetrol and diesel cars start vanishing from the roads. Renewables make electricity more expensive and you can bet your bottom dollar that electric vehicles will have their own road tax to replace the lost income from ICE.

  4. Mark Piney

    My daughter is keen on Extinction Rebellion’s millennial apocalyptic message that we have to ‘change our dreadful carbon polluting ways’ or The Planet Will Die. She’s been fed this stuff since she was tiny, and she believes it. The UK population hasn’t been asked. The case hasn’t been honestly made.

    To get around the stubbornly practical British public “Climate Assemblies” have been set-up. They are to present “an unprecedented opportunity for the public to contribute to climate change debate, and to influence action taken by Government and Parliament”. In practice as Ben Pile points out none of the four Assembly ‘experts’ are impartial, “Four lead experts were chosen who appointed “their mates”. Ben goes on to say that the Assemblies aren’t independent juries, as Roger Hallam argues, and “the accused is guilty before the trial has taken place”’

    All involved assume the “climate emergency” is real and imminent. But creepiest of all is the remit of the organisations running the whole shebang. Here’s one of them “Sortitions”’s reason d’etre, “We campaign for a world free from partisan politicking, where representative random samples of everyday people make decisions in informed and deliberative citizens’ assemblies.”

    All the that messy argumentative democracy where we vote for the people who will represent us, must be bypassed. By careful ‘selection’ of the assembly members and four utterly partial ‘experts’ Parliament is to be told what to do.

    My daughter’s very taken with this idea of ‘direct democracy’. When, to me, it’s creepily undemocratic and, to use an overused word skimming close to fascism.

    The violence is disturbing as Ben points out “True democratic expression may be disruptive but that doesn’t mean all disruption is truly democratic”, But it’s liberal do-goodery violence, so that’s OK.

    Guess it won’t work. Fear it might. Over to you the great British public.


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