These posh eco-loons need to check their privilege

The upper-crust halfwits of Just Stop Oil are causing misery to ordinary people.

Julie Burchill

Julie Burchill

Topics Politics UK

Reading about Cressida Gethin, the latest Just Stop Oil protester to be convicted of causing a nuisance, I found myself thinking of the strange days when British débutantes, young women making their first appearance in upper-class society, used to curtsey to a cake. I also thought of their other odd rituals, such as the parlour game, ‘Are You There, Moriarty?’, as splendidly showcased recently in Netflix’s One Day. Such customs appear perfectly reasonable to the ruling class, while utterly insane to the rest of us.

The last débutantes were presented to Queen Elizabeth II in 1958, after which the wise old bird abolished the ceremony, knowing how anachronistic it appeared. From then on, in the absence of a monarch to curtsey to, those young women who wished to do ‘the season’, and find themselves a husband at the end of it, would instead genuflect to an eight-foot-tall cake. I suppose it made sense to them, in the way that stopping cars carrying sick children being taken to hospital makes sense to the Just Stop Oil mob. Maybe you need to be born in a certain class, with a certain kind of cretinous confidence, not to feel totally ridiculous when doing either of these things.

Gethin is a 22-year-old music student who, among other things, clambered on to a gantry over the M25 in 2022. In doing so, she ruined the trips of 4,000 airline passengers. Whether swinging from gantries or attempting to destroy great art, these young people have the air of never having heard the word ‘No’.

Why are the climate fanatics all so posh? The Just Stop Oil activists are always called Cressida or Amy Rugg-Easey or Indigo Rumbelow. (Rumbelow has inspired an amusing Twitter game called Find Your Silly Posh Girl Name ‘by combining a colour with a defunct shop’.) In this, JSO is simply carrying on the glorious tradition of Extinction Rebellion, the leading lights of which had such names as Robin Ellis-Cockcroft and Robin Boardman-Pattinson.

Infamously, Boardman-Pattinson opined in 2019 that ‘air travel should only be used in emergencies’, despite having been on a number of skiing trips that very year, which he had foolishly posted on social media. It’s no wonder Cressida Gethin picked on desperate sun-seekers to make her point. Like the dowager countess in Downton Abbey who once asked, ‘What is a weekend?’, posh people who do nothing find it hard to understand what a holiday means to ordinary folk.

Like aristocrats down the ages, these posh clowns get together and breed new generations of clowns. Trans activist Riz Possnett, who glued her hands to the floor of the Oxford Union to protest against feminist Kathleen Stock last year, is the daughter of Extinction Rebellion activist Robert Possnett. He has been arrested several times for making a nuisance of himself. He once glued himself to a Brexit Party bus. The bananas don’t fall far from the tree in this family’s case.

Possnett was once a member of a ‘band’ called Working Class Broccoli, even though her father is a wealthy businessman and her mother is the chief executive of South Cambridgeshire district council. They live in a five-bedroomed house, complete with a swimming pool, in a Suffolk village. Who could blame Tory MP Sir John Hayes, chairman of the Common Sense Group, for opining to the Telegraph that Riz had ‘gone off the rails’ because she hailed from a ‘deranged bourgeois liberal family, blinded by privilege’?

The privileged have always been drawn to ecological concerns – as I wrote of King Charles many moons ago: ‘It’s easy for the rich to be Friends of the Earth – it’s always been a good friend to them.’ Environmentalism gives our rulers a new way to corral and control hoi polloi now that the old ways of pushing us around are deemed unprogressive.

It is striking that only white people of a certain class and level of over-education enjoy making commuters’ lives a misery. And it is heartening that the people pleading with them to get out of the way are of every colour, creed and class imaginable. Think of the rousing attempts by a crowd to pull a pair of XR clowns from the roof of a rush-hour commuter train (electric!) in Canning Town back in 2019. Or take the summer of 2023, when Stratford schoolchildren were seen remonstrating with Just Stop Oil for making them late to lessons, in some cases ripping protesters’ banners from their hands.

A hastily deleted tweet by XR, comparing its activists to Rosa Parks, probably wasn’t the cleverest move. Not least as every climate-change protest is so overwhelmingly white that it makes the Lib Dem party conference look like the Notting Hill Carnival.

It’s telling that Cressida Gethin has taken two years out of her studies to make a nuisance of herself. Gap years, self-indulgent and virtue-signalling as they were, at least used to be about helping under-privileged people have better lives, however briefly. They were about giving something back. In Gethin’s case, hers is about attempting to drag people back to the Dark Ages, when travel was only for the rich and the poor were expected to stay in one place all their lives – like cattle. A great number of those 4,000 souls whose holidays she ruined will have worked all year round in jobs they don’t like to pay for that week of escape. They will never have the privilege of doing a thing they love for a living, as Gethin will undoubtedly get to do, as soon as she has had enough of playing the fool.

Surveying the antics of the upper-crust, half-wit eco-loons of today, curtseying to a cake suddenly looks quite sensible.

Julie Burchill’s new play, Making Marilyn, co-authored with Daniel Raven, will be at Brighton Palace Pier in May. Get tickets here.

Picture by: YouTube.

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Topics Politics UK


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