The one beneficial consequence of the Extinction Rebellion and Animal Rebellion protests this week was that fewer hunts than usual had to deal with hunt saboteurs last Saturday as the usual suspects headed for London. In fact the 300 odd protestors who gathered at Smithfield meat market under the banner of ‘Animal Rebellion’ to call for an end to livestock farming and compulsory veganism is almost exactly the number of absent hunt sabs. This may be complete coincidence, but it may not.
Meanwhile, the demonstrations themselves seem to have been more about social media than substance, another similarity to the hunt saboteurs. Certainly the Londoners I meet on my daily commute were not particularly impressed or inconvenienced.
The sadness is that, as the Alliance was discussing at the recent party conferences, the environment has become a potent electoral issue. We are all concerned about climate change, pollution and the future of our planet. The question is whether we are part of the tiny minority who sign up to the extreme nihilistic, misanthropic cult of Extinction Rebellion which is quite determined that the world is going to explode in a fireball two weeks next Tuesday unless we adopt their ludicrous political agenda, or whether we are actually try to do something to improve the world for ourselves and our children.
As I watched the scenes from Smithfield Market on Monday I could not help but compare them with the people we hosted at the Countryside Alliance Awards in Westminster in June. Brackley Butchers sourcing all their meat from local farmers and assuring the highest standards of production and animal welfare; the Sussex Pheasant taking local produce to people in Brighton in a mobile farm shop which might not yet be electric powered, but I am sure will be soon; and of course Two Farmers Crisps tackling the huge issue of fast food packaging with the first biodegradable crisp packet. These are real environmentalists tackling real issues in a positive and practical way.
I am sure that many of those demonstrating with Extinction Rebellion are well meaning and believe that their protest will make a difference. Nor would I ever suggest that people should not use public protest to promote their views, after all hundreds of thousands of us have marched for the countryside. There are however many involved in the current protests who are clearly using environmental alarmism to forward their political agendas whether they be animal rights, veganism or anarchy. I am quite sure that the majority of the British public are much more concerned about practical solutions to pressing environmental problems.
Our own Media Relations Manager, Mo Metcalf Fisher, went across to the Animal Rebellion protest at Smithfield Market on Monday. Watch what he had to say in the tweet below or here.