Why the green elites hate Christmas

It’s the one time of year we don't follow the rules of the technocratic regime.

Brendan O'Neill

Brendan O'Neill
chief political writer

Topics Politics UK

Not content with blocking roads and ruining the snooker, now Just Stop Oil’s glum toffs are coming for Christmas. Nothing horrifies plummy greens more than the thought of millions of plebs buying gifts, getting sloshed and eating dead birds. So they intend to do something about it. They’ll be spray-painting Christmas trees and singing ‘climate Christmas carols’. Then there’s the ace up their sleeve. Their greatest act of torment against the British public yet. A Christmas single.

It’s called ‘We Tried’. The singer is Louise Harris. You remember her – she’s the eco-zealot who wept on a motorway gantry during a JSO stunt. ‘I’m here because I don’t have a future!’, she blubbed. ‘Why does it take young people like me up on a fucking gantry on the M25 for you to listen?!’, she wailed. Oh sweetheart, we’re still not listening. Now the Cambridge grad is turning on the waterworks once more as she warbles: ‘Take me where the birds still fly / Cos smoke fills up our sky.’ Deep.

‘This song woke me up’, says Brian Eno, making it sound like it interrupted his afternoon nap. It’s a ‘fucking horrific, terrifying and tragic’ song and you must ‘listen to it’, says naturalist fruitcake Chris Packham. For five long, mournful minutes Ms Harris sings and sobs against a backdrop of factories, war and natural disasters. It’s a deathly ballad, the bastard child of Chris de Burgh and Greta Thunberg. ‘Just Stop Singing!’, as a headline in the Daily Mail aptly puts it.

JSO hopes it will be the Christmas No1. Fat chance. That spot is Shane MacGowan’s. What’s more, people don’t take kindly to being lectured by the emotionally incontinent upper classes during the season to be jolly. Ms Harris must know this. In 2022, she invaded the pitch when Spurs were playing West Ham, whereupon legions of fans pelted her with drinks. She fled to Facebook to boohoo about being ‘hated by the majority of the general public’. There’s an easy fix for that, Louise: don’t interrupt the football and don’t release rubbish singles.

There’s something about Christmas that always brings out the well-off eco-aware in a rash. For years the right-on have bemoaned the waste and indulgence of the holiday season. ‘[F]or God’s sake stop trashing the planet’ with your ‘junk’ gifts, said Guardian Scrooge George Monbiot a decade ago. We’ve had Buy Nothing Christmas, an outgrowth of Buy Nothing Day, which encouraged us to ‘bypass the tinsel, the tree and the tat’ and ‘go cold turkey on consumerism’ (boom boom). ‘All I want for Christmas is a lower rate of consumption’, say headlines in the pompous press. Just Stop Oil’s party-pooping is only the latest expression of this weird aristocratic derision for Christmas.

JSO has already sang climate carols outside Keir Starmer’s house. ‘On the first day of Christmas, Keir Starmer gave to me / Genocide from the North Sea’, the loons intoned, because apparently Sir Keir isn’t sufficiently committed to phasing out oil-pumping in Scotland. ‘All I want for Christmas is for oil-rig workers to lose their jobs’ would have been a more honest lyric. Just Stop Oil’s German wing has defiled Christmas trees with JSO’s trademark orange paint. Furious Christmas shoppers in Strasbourg rose up against the paint-splattering grinches, leading to one of my favorite headlines of the year: ‘Eco protesters manhandled by angry public after spraying Xmas market tree orange.’

There’s a powerful whiff of snobbery to this Christmasphobia. The annual handwringing over holiday ‘waste’ feels a lot like ‘wealthy leftists talking down to the working class about their life choices’, wrote Simon Copland a few years ago. Indeed. From the pulpit of the New York Times comment pages to the weepy pleas of apocalyptic greens, every Christmas the well-off reprimand workers for eating, drinking and spending too much. In the words of a writer for the NYT, ‘Between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day, Americans produce a colossal amount of waste’, causing ‘landfills [to] swell beyond all reason’, and making ‘whales starve because of the plastic they have consumed’. Oh, stop it! Can we not have one week off from the finger-wagging?

This showy Christmas-bashing confirms that conspicuous consumption is out and conspicuous anti-consumption is in. These days our betters demonstrate their moral superiority not by buying stuff the rest of us can’t afford, but by not buying stuff at all. Or rather, by buying the right kind of stuff. I only buy ‘second-hand’ Christmas gifts from ‘thrift stores, yard sales [and] vintage boutiques’, boasts a climate-aware writer for the NYT. Such ‘treasures’ better reflect my ‘individual aesthetics’, she says. Hark at her! So the rich still signal their moral supremacy over the masses through buying things, only now it’s likely to be a hand-me-down cashmere scarf rather than the ‘tat’ the little people go for.

There’s another reason Christmas freaks them out. There’s a liberatory streak to this holiday, isn’t there? These are the days we’re free, to a certain extent, from the rules of the technocratic regime. We’re off work, so the boss class is out of the picture. We eat and drink to excess, to the alarm of a public-health lobby that can only look on in helpless horror. We spend, spend, spend, which appalls both the famously frugal upper classes and climate-change alarmists (often the same people). Whether you opt for a Saturnalia-style Christmas of debauchery or a bank-breaking Christmas of gifts for all, you’re essentially in quiet revolt against the managerial elites who spend the rest of the year telling us what to eat, how to live, why to save. I’m pretty sure even those who go for a religious Christmas cause angst among the godless new establishment. ‘Taking the knee’ to the Baby Jesus rather than to our ideologies? It won’t do.

I say ignore the doom-mongers, the killjoys, the snobs. Don’t let your week of freedom be clouded by the wailing of upper-class neurotics who think the world will end if we get to do what we want. Instead, eat, drink and – the greatest rebellion of all – be merry.

Brendan O’Neill is spiked’s chief political writer and host of the spiked podcast, The Brendan O’Neill Show. Subscribe to the podcast here. His new book – A Heretic’s Manifesto: Essays on the Unsayable – is available to order on Amazon UK and Amazon US now. And find Brendan on Instagram: @burntoakboy

Picture by: Getty.

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Topics Politics UK


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