The Scottish Mail on Sunday - 2021-10-10


We’re going to unleash hell

Sarah Vine On Sunday


INSULATE BRITAIN is threatening a fresh wave of mayhem if the Government does not agree to its demands, The Mail on Sunday can reveal. The group plans to cause more misery by yet again blocking major roads in a series of sit-down protests on Wednesday. Activists will warn Boris Johnson that he has ten days to commit to their ultimatum on home insulation before they ‘unleash hell’ on innocent drivers simply trying to get to work or see loved ones. An undercover Mail on Sunday reporter infiltrated the group and revealed details of its insidious plans, including: An ambition ‘to have 120 or more people all remanded in prison at the same time’ to cause maximum embarrassment for the Government ahead of the COP26 climate change meeting next month. A ‘cynical’ use of working-class spokesmen to avoid being labelled as middle-class hippies. A deliberate use of language to avoid terms such as ‘planet’ or ‘environment’ when confronted. How activists compared motorists to ‘angry toddlers’ and complained that police ‘refused’ to slow down traffic for them. Last week, this newspaper revealed that Mr Johnson plans to hit the activists with huge fines and up to six months in jail with new powers dubbed ‘Asbos for crusties’. But they remain undeterred and have pledged to ‘create a whirlwind’ in their bid to force the Government to insulate all social housing by 2025. They want to cause as much chaos as possible in the run-up to the COP26 summit in Glasgow next month, with one ringleader saying it would be the ‘icing on the cake’ if protesters were sent to prison on remand. The group’s plans were discussed at a ‘non-violence and de-escalation’ training day at St Pancras Church hall in Central London yesterday. It was led by Extinction Rebellion (XR) veteran David McKenny. The 38-year-old musician is no stranger to controversy, having been sentenced to 14 days in prison for contempt of court after he glued himself to the dock at City of London magistrates’ court and filmed his actions. He was also one of a handful of protesters who confronted Sir David Attenborough, 95, at the height of the pandemic after the conservationist said the actions of XR risked alienating people. Yesterday McKenny, who once taught puppeteering at the Royal Northern College of Music, told the crowd of just five: ‘There’s going to be an action on Wednesday and then there’s going to be a press release that goes out that says the Government and police are traitors, absolute traitors.’ Referring to the group’s ultimatum to the Government, he added: ‘You have got ten days to make a meaningful statement on it. If not, we are going to come back and unleash hell.’ He then laughed and backtracked, instead calling it ‘disruption’, adding: ‘That’s the rhetoric we are going to be using.’ He later added: ‘The last week before COP26, we go as hard as possible.’ Mr McKenny also claimed Home Secretary Priti Patel had ‘backed herself into a corner’ over the use of injunctions, which are now in place on several major roads. ‘The front page of the Mail last week was like “we’re going to lock them up”,’ he said. ‘People thought that would literally be straightaway because [they] got an injunction. But, of course, that was never the case.’ He added: ‘We’ve essentially split the opposition, because the police, the Government and the CPS are all fighting each other... We can’t underestimate [sic] the disharmony within the corridors of power.’ Yesterday’s sparsely attended session saw prospective protesters role-play how to walk out in front of traffic carrying the red, white and blue Insulate Britain signs. They were instructed how to deal with an angry motorist, focusing on concepts such as ‘humanity, authentic empathy and breath’. McKenny and the other session leader, Cathy Eastburn, acted out potential scenes, screaming swear words and slamming chairs on the floor. At one stage, attendees were invited to close their eyes and imagine the ‘sound of gulls crying over the sea, the sight of mountains rising, colours of sunrise, scents of pine, the excitement of new ideas, the melody of a half-forgotten song’. Before the meeting, protesters were advised to watch an 80-minute non-violence and deescalation training video, led by veteran campaigner Rowan Tilly. The 63-year-old said new protesters should wear ‘normal’ clothing, rather than anything ‘hippy or theatrical’, while the colours yellow and black should be avoided because they are a ‘universal symbol of toxicity’. She also cautioned against the use of musical instruments because ‘if we look as though we are having a good time at the expense of everybody else, it won’t inspire much empathy in them’. Recent protests on the M25 and the blockade of the Blackwall Tunnel, linking North and South London, has seen irate drivers confront the activists after being stopped from seeing relatives in hospital or getting to work. Insulate Britain protesters say they will ‘face aggression or violence with compassion’ and all must sign up to a promise not to ‘press charges on any member of the public who may assault any one of us’. But they then dismissed the concerns of the public, with McKenny saying: ‘All this aggression that’s going on – we’re essentially dealing with people’s inner child. ‘People have said it’s like dealing with a bunch of toddlers on the road – they’re all running around, stomping their feet, acting really angry.’ Ahead of yesterday’s meeting, our reporter was also required to read an 18-page ‘participant pathway document’. In it, the group declared it was taking ‘non-violent direct action to take on the raw, entrenched power that threatens the near-term future of humanity.’ ‘What we are attempting has not happened in the history of this country,’ it boasted. ‘To have 120 or more people all remanded in prison all at the same time… Our success relies on us building strong bonds over the next couple of months so we have the strength and resolve to keep going back to the motorways, to block again and again, going to the police station, being let out, blocking again, all for as long as it takes.’ The briefing details what to do when faced with arrest and includes the details of three London-based legal firms who are on hand to help: HJA, Birds and ITN. Curiously, under a section headlined ‘Messaging Points’, protesters are given pre-approved lines to give to the Press and are advised: ‘DON’T mention “planet” or “environment”.’ Last night, a group spokesman said: ‘Insulate Britain is open to anyone who wants to stop the biggest crime in British history. Boris Johnson is currently in the process of destroying our country and our young people’s future. He should be taken to court for treason.’


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