Fact check: how popular are Extinction Rebellion's friends?

27 September 2021

6:39 PM

27 September 2021

6:39 PM

Long-suffering commuters have had further misery this month, thanks to the shenanigans of eco-warriors Insulate Britain. The group are an offshoot of Extinction Rebellion and have today blocked the M25 for a sixth time – despite a High Court injunction warning that they face jail if they carried on disrupting traffic on the UK’s busiest motorway.

Members of the group argue that the ends justify the means – that their disruptive methods help to bring attention to their cause. But is that the case? Polling by Redfield and Wilton for The Spectator, conducted on Wednesday 22 September, shows that when asked how much they had read or heard about the sit-in protests on the M25, opinion was split. Just over half – 55 per cent – replied they knew a ‘great deal’ or a ‘moderate amount’ while 25 per cent said ‘some’ and 19 per cent said ‘nothing at all.’

So less than one in five had not heard of the protests. But how useful were they in conveying the purpose of Insulate Britain’s apocalyptic activism? By contrast only 16 per cent said they had read or heard a great deal about this element with 39 per cent opting for a ‘moderateamount’ while 30 per cent replied ‘some’ and 15 per cent ‘nothing at all’.

Amusingly though, the more people hear about Insulate Britain, the less likely they seem to support their protests. Nearly half – 49 per cent – of the 1,500 UK citizens surveyed said they opposed the protests, compared to 27 per cent in support and 20 per cent undecided. Even worse for the eco-warriors, an overwhelming majority of the British public – 62 per cent – said they believe disruptive protests make the public less supportive oftaking action on climate change compared to just 8 per cent who think it makes the public more supportive

Interestingly, despite much commentary on ‘selective enforcement’ in recent months, public support still remains largely behind the police on such matters. More than half of those surveyed – 53 per cent – agree that they trust the UK police to enforce the law when responding to protests,compared to 22 per cent who disagree and 22 per cent who neither agree nor disagree.

More troublingly though more than a quarter of UK citizens do not trust their police to treat all protests equally, with 26 per cent holding this view compared to 48 per cent who agreed that they trust them to not show favour or disfavour to any particular cause. A further 23 per cent remained on the fence.

Judging by these findings, it looks like Insulate Britain might need a fresh approach from blocking the M25 (again).

Got something to add? Join the discussion and comment below.

Show comments