Extinction Rebellion have accomplished an incredible thing. They have driven the discussion of environment collapse right into the mainstream. But just as political struggles all need to have passion in the streets and finesse in smoke filled rooms, XR blazed across the headlines to make the space for producers to create the recent Attenborough documentary.
Their pressure has built from the picket sign to the boardroom. This is brilliant news.
But the mistake that XR can make is to view itself as a movement, when in fact it is a small part of this much wider movement.
As a result, I worry about them. I worry at their internal communication. Endless WhatsApp debates amongst a flat-structure are terrible way for organisations to allow the purifying light of criticism in. As success is gained, impenetrable bubbles of communication are built, mistakes aren’t corrected and responsibility can be shirked.
It’s something that is seen at the top of society as well as at the bottom.
Just as allowing grouse hunts is a terrible decision, blockading newspapers is a strategy that reeks of group-think.
Any rebellion will have members of varying militancy in it and I can see the sugar rush appeal at going ‘at Murdoch’. But – no. If you are running a communications campaign (and that is what XR is) it is a terrible idea to attack the papers. It’s as simple as this – if you are trying to get your voice heard don’t attack the biggest megaphone in the country.
Those newsrooms were full of once friendly writers, who will now not give the benefit of the doubt and not pull punches now you have threatened careers.
For the sake of XR, I hope that they don’t have any skeletons in their closet. No dodgy funders, bullying allegations or anything worse. Because you can be sure that the journalist who writes that story will be the toast of Fleet Street.