Listing Extinction Rebellion as extremist ideology was error of judgement – minister

200115 Baroness Williams

Home Office minister, Baroness Williams, speaking in the House of Lords, 15 January 2020. Photo: Still from Parliament TV

A Home Office minister admitted five times today that counter terrorism police should not have labelled the climate campaign group, Extinction Rebellion, as an extremist ideology.

Baroness Williams of Trafford told peers that Counter Terrorism Policing South East had made a mistake and an error of judgment. The unit had accepted that it was wrong, she said.

In the House of Commons, the Labour leadership contender, Rebecca Long-Bailey, said the listing was an “absolute disgrace”. She said:

“It’s absolutely absurd that our school strikers, that our climate activists who are trying to fight to be heard here in Westminster are being listed alongside terrorist organisations when they’re simply trying to save the planet and deliver a world for their children and grandchildren.”

200115 Rebecca Long Bailey

Shadow business secretary, Rebecca Long Bailey, speaking in the House of Commons, 15 January 2020. Photo: Still from Parliament TV

Earlier this month, the Guardian reported that Extinction Rebellion had been listed alongside neo-Nazi and a pro-terrorist Islamic group in a guide about extremist ideologies that should be reported to the authorities.

200115 Lord Berkeley

Lord Berkeley, speaking in the House of Lords, 15 January 2020. Photo: Still from Parliament TV

In the House of Lords, the Labour peer, Lord Berkeley, asked Baroness Williams what assessment the police had made in including the activist group on the list. He said:

“How can anyone, even if they make a mistake, consider a peaceful demonstration by thousands of people, mostly children—including some of my family—worried about the future of the planet as extremist ideology?”

Lady Williams said:

“My Lords, CT Policing South East is quoted categorically as saying that it does not classify Extinction Rebellion as an extremist organisation, and its inclusion in the document was an error of judgment.”

Lord Berkeley said climate change deniers and oil companies should be added to a final list of extremists.

200115 Lord Dholakia

Lord Dholakia, speaking in the House of Lords, 15 January 2020. Photo: Still from Parliament TV

The Liberal Democrat, Lord Dholakia, urged the minister to publish the criteria used when considering labelling a group. He said the counter-terrorism Prevent programme had already been criticised by the Muslim community. “This incident has not helped”, he said.

Baroness Williams said

“We do not discuss how the Home Secretary comes to decisions on proscription, but she does so on the vigorous legal advice provided to her at the time.”

Labour’s Lord Rosser asked at what level the document had been cleared:

“surely it is wrong that a document of that kind—containing the guidance it did about a campaign, not about a terrorist organisation—does not require clearance at a senior level, at least in the police, to ensure both appropriateness and consistency of approach across the country?”

Lord Cormack said Extinction Rebellion protesters had also made an error of judgement when they “glued themselves to trains” and prevented people going about their normal business.

200115 Baroness Jones

Baroness Jones, speaking in the House of Lords, 15 January 2020. Photo: Still from Parliament TV

Baroness Williams said the protests prevented some people from seeing sick relatives in hospital, some of whom died before they could be visited. Everyday lives were disrupted and, in some cases, made more expensive, she said.

Baroness Jones of Moulescoomb suggested that young people who have taken part in protests may have less trust in the police than ever as a result of the document.

The former Labour Home Secretary, now Lord Blunkett, said there should be a distinction between people promoting a just cause and measures taken by a very few that led to what he called anarcho-syndicalism.

The law should be used to deal with the latter, he said.

20 replies »

  1. MARTIN ,

    Although your fanatical , misguided, Pro-Fracking thoughts are misplaced in a time of growing climate change.

    Your old buddy, Jackthelad will not be the one who shops you in for your ” extremist ” views .

    Taken from the above article, quote, ” Lord Berkeley said climate change deniers and oil companies should be added to a final list of extremists. “

    • Rebellion Extinction or Rebellion Extremists?

      someone who has beliefs that most people think are unreasonable and unacceptable:

      Most people?, are these the same people who use transport, airline travel, heating homes offices and use the derivatives of fossil fuels production in manufacturing, fertilisers and every day products?

    • XR are not extremists, that is now official. I’ve been on the children’s strike from school marches that amounted to more than 7 million people worldwide. Adults and children, families and police, all of whom were totally peaceful and we’ll organised.

      Peaceful protest is a human right, in the face of the complete lack of real action and movement on environmental matters by corporations and governments it is also a duty.

      As Jackthelad quoted, ”Lord Berkeley said climate change deniers and oil companies should be added to a final list of extremists.“
      You can’t put it any more clearly than that.

  2. So many of our ancestors that fought for the rights we all enjoy and take for granted today were also considered extremists by the so called establishment. Consider the Chartists some were hanged in the fight to extend the vote to the working class, the women’s suffragette movement, without such people taking action how would our democracy be shaped now, or how much later would we have obtained our rights? The large fossil fuel organisations that deliberately withheld scientific evidence that burning fossil fuels causes global warming and the governments across the world that have failed to take sufficient action to combat global warming need to be held to account. The public is right to be angry. And just like our forefathers, people will campaign, protest and cause disruption when there is injustice and their voice is not being heard. Time and time again governments have promised action on climate change only to renege on the promises or their actions fall short and now time is running out.

  3. KatT: The large fossil fuel organisations that deliberately withheld scientific evidence that burning fossil fuels causes global warming.
    I don’t know where you have been for the last few decades, but this is know. CFC’s were known, so was lead fuel. This is nothing new.

    The realisation is the radical views of the media and XR voicing their tirade of views against everything we have taken for granted! Now people have woken up out of a coma and are now screaming save our planet!!
    It cannot be done at the flick of a switch.
    We reduce in Western Europe, then China, India and the USA will just emit more in to the atmosphere…
    you cannot have your cake and eat it!

    • Eli Goth I fail to understand your point. The fact lead was added to petrol despite knowing it harmed health and particularly children is indefensible. The tobacco industry increasing the amount of nicotine in tobacco to make it more addictive, despite knowing the negative health impacts is again indefensible. Yet both occurred. And in both instances the industries tried to dispute the health impacts! Apparently there were other alternatives with regard to petrol, at that time, that could have been used that were less harmful. I am not against progress but you seem to be advocating that industry has some sort of right to cause harm and carry on causing harm for prolonged periods of time, that this is somehow normal and business as usual. Surely economic progress should be on the basis of using the least harmful methods and that better alternatives should be favoured and developed as soon as possible. The fossil fuel industry has spent billions to muddy the water over climate change science, actually funded climate change denying organisations, despite as you say “knowing” burning fossil fuels cause global warming. And the industry has lobbied governments to roll back carbon reduction efforts. That is also indefensible. No doubt green energy technologies would have been further advanced by now without their influence and interference. Transitioning away from fossil fuels will be far more complex than phasing out CFCs and we have literally lost decades. Far more could and must be done and that is why people are angry and on a global scale.


    • elie, you are beginning to sound like me several years ago? Have you had a conversion on the road to Armageddon? Or is this transformation of attitude some sort of agenda you are playing out?

      Switched sides have you?

  4. How many people are angry “on a global scale”? Very few I expect. Check out global membership of Greenpeas and Enemies of Industry. Oh and add XR to that.

    • Paul. Judging from reports from Australia in particular, California, Siberia, South America, Europe, The Mediterranean, The Middle East, Africa, Asia, UK, and most isolated islands.

      Australian Fire Series Part 5: An Australian Holocaust

      Just about everyone is angry with what has been done to the climate by decades of planetary ecological, political and corporate abuse. The symptoms are ignorance of the consequences of their actions, or lack of actions.

      Those who are not angry, have either not been paying attention, or they think they will profit from the destruction, or in some blinkered way, not be effected by it.

      Silly labels and pathetic name calling don’t address the facts, and are merely avoidance. We have had plenty of warning. If we don’t take notice and actually do something real to limit the damage we have already caused and begin to make massive irreversible provision to avoid further destruction.

      Then we will all be toast, some of us, will be quite literally toast.

  5. The Chinese government must be laughing their socks off at the stupidity of the west in deciding to join the second division of national economic forces. While we get poorer in our stupid bid to ‘save the world’ the Chinese will use the fortune they are making by taking environmental shortcuts (whilst saying they are doing the best they can) and they will become the single economic superpower in the world. Our grandchildren will be fighting on the streets for food, whilst scratching their heads in disbelief wondering why THIS generation let them down so badly.
    Have these anti-oil & gas protestors ever heard of China’s ‘belt and road initiative’? Wake up for God’s sake. While the protestors moan about a handful of oil wells that will help our country’s economy, the Chines are building 500 new coal fired power stations in the next 10 years. There is no comparison. Extinction Rebellion are TRAITORS to this country in my opinion.

    • Terri: never a truer statement made.
      China, India and the USA are needing to reduce their emissions. of which they produce 70% of the worlds emissions and they have not committed to change! We in the UK are but a pin-prick in the worlds emissions scale!

    • Utter stupidity: calling ordinary people who want a future for their children “Traitors” now that’s what I call extreme! And extreme in the way moronic ultra-nationalists/ fascists talk. Why do you think China produces so much in the way of emissions? Because of Western demand for cheap goods, which we all consume in one way or another from China; we all have a responsibility for the current economic madness which is destroying all of us. Now is the time for more people to wake up and demand global, cooperative action. XR has grown across the world enormously in the space of just a year and long may it and many other organisations continue to wake more people up across the globe to demand a planet habitable for humans. Other countries’ lunatic governments in Australia, US, China, UK, etc, will have to listen and act. It is ridiculous to say 1 country’s citizens can’t protest because another country does way more damage, nothing would ever change. It took educated and concerned citizens in the UK to start XR and a teenager in Sweden to start a global phenomenon, demanding change for the better.

      Everyone’s grandchildren will be fighting for scraps of food if extreme climate and ecological collapse destroys food production. The perpetrators of this destruction are the real traitors of the people, obviously. Get it in the right perspective, at least.

      • A very naïve response. Too many people can’t see outside the blinkers of climate change into a future where there are more people on the planet than can be sustained. Currently 8 billion and 11 billion by the end of the century. Experts say 10 billion is more than the planet can cope with. That is the real problem going forward, and world leaders who aren’t nationalist will be abandoning their citizens.

        • You are completely ignorant if you think nationalism is going to save the planet. Only global international cooperation, will solve this planetary crisis. Countries with less inequality, generally have the means to engage with family planning, education, environmental activism and health. Less wealth concentration and power in the hands of a tiny elite minority, who are in the pockets of industries destroying our very existence, will benefit the planet enormously. These industries do not act in the interests of nation’s citizens, the bottom line is ever expanding profits, rather than not-for-profit, and if you think they do, then it is you who is extremely naive.

          • I didn’t say nationalism will save the planet! Nationalism will put the people of this country in a stronger position when the sh*t hits the fan. China will continue to refuse to fully engage with other countries as it gains a stranglehold on world economic power whilst flouting environmental targets. There will never be meaningful global international cooperation on climate change. Why are you now trying to discuss family planning, education, environmental activism and health? These things will be completely irrelevant when there is mass migration of millions of refugees around the world as people struggle to survive. You will be pleased to have an organised system of government in these circumstances, IF we still have one.

            • If you have extreme, inward looking nationalism then it is a sell-fulfilling prophecy of giving up on international cooperation, throwing your hands in the air and letting the world turn to shit. At least people who support, or are a part of XR, care enough by getting off their arses to do something positive about their surroundings, their country and the rest of the planet we have to share. It is actually more patriotic to demand our governments listen to the people and not some private oil companies draining countries wealth in secret offshore bank accounts. Demanding Citizens Assemblies nationally and internationally is a start to enabling governments to act responsibly and come to grown up international agreements; this will include China with enough cooperative international pressure. Unfortunately certain fossil fuel/ climate change denying rich countries decided to scupper the last COP meeting, which is precisely why citizens should be protesting and demanding democratic accountability.

              Since you brought up population expansion, this includes ensuring developing countries have less inequality, hence family planning, etc. Therefore, less need to migrate away from their country to find a better life. Curbing secretive offshore tax havens will help the flight of money through the rich elites/ governments of their respective countries.

              Dog whistle, divide and rule subjugation, through ugly nationalist “us and them traitors” rhetoric gets you idiotic, drunken fascists shouting at young children with their families in the streets and worse. They were in a XR protest demanding their council rewild public land up for lease renewal, perfectly reasonable, peaceful and democratic local expression and this idiot started shouting “fxxxing traitors” at them, all because of CT police and Home Office policy like this. You can stick your “traitor” nationalism where the sun don’t shine!

    • Your statement Our grandchildren will be fighting on the streets for food, whilst scratching their heads in disbelief wondering why THIS generation let them down so badly is is very true But most people including the very clued up children believe this will come about because of climate change. Also the Chinese have just banned plastic bags in all cities. They do have an astonishing ability to make decisions. Most are absolutely gruesome but less toxic plastic polluting their environment at a stroke.

  6. Quote ‘A Home Office minister admitted five times today that counter terrorism police should not have labelled the climate campaign group, Extinction Rebellion, as an extremist ideology.’
    But can anyone confirm that XR and anti fracking groups have been removed from the PREVENT programme and no longer labelled as extremist organisations? I’ve seen nothing to confirm that.
    There could be very serious repercussions from being labelled an extremist, including the possibility of govt, security services and police being able to monitor communications etc. Not only is this worrying and clearly unjustifiable in itself, but also risks diverting hugely expensive and scarce resources away from genuine extremists.
    Also quote ‘“We do not discuss how the Home Secretary comes to decisions on proscription, but she does so on the vigorous legal advice provided to her at the time.” Clearly ‘vigorous’ does not translate to ‘accurate, justified, rational or defensible.

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