The Daily Telegraph

Way of the World Michael Deacon


Protesters against climate change constantly tell us that we can’t afford to do nothing. But perhaps the best thing for the environmen­t would be for these protesters to do nothing themselves. Their protests – blocking roads, disrupting the Tube, etc – are so irritating that, if anything, they risk diminishin­g public support for their cause. Even if you share their concerns about pollution, their overbearin­g self-righteousn­ess makes you want to trade in your hatchback for an articulate­d lorry, or a Boeing 737.

Then again, there is one thing you can say in defence of Insulate Britain and co. At least when they glue themselves to roads, they don’t cause any physical damage, except perhaps to the skin of their own buttocks.

Now, though, there’s a new group of eco activists – and they deliberate­ly set out to damage people’s property. “The Tyre Extinguish­ers”, as they call themselves, target “gas-guzzling” cars. Whenever they spy a 4x4, they deflate its tyres by stuffing the valves with, of all things, lentils. On a single night earlier this month, they boasted of having “disarmed” more than 600 cars. And they’ve kept at it throughout the period of mourning (“The climate emergency isn’t taking a break,” they explained, “so neither will we.”)

Worse than the vandalism, though, is the achingly pompous letter they stick to the car’s windscreen.

“ATTENTION: your gasguzzler kills,” they write. “We have deflated one or more of your tyres … You will have no difficulty getting around without your gas-guzzler, with walking, cycling or public transport …”

Not even electric cars escape the lentil treatment: “These are still dangerous, polluting and cause congestion.”

The late PJ O’rourke once argued that Western attempts to tackle climate change were futile, for a simple reason. “There are 1.3 billion people in China,” he wrote, back in 2010, “and they all want a Buick.”

If the Tyre Extinguish­ers want to save the world, therefore, they should go to China, and wreck all the local cars. I’m sure the Chinese authoritie­s will be most understand­ing.

People in northeast Ukraine sobbed with relief this week as their towns were liberated from Russian tyranny. The success of the Ukrainian fightback was deeply heartening. For one man here in Britain, however, the news presumably came as a surprise – and rather an awkward one, at that.

Just six weeks ago, Jeremy Corbyn, the former Labour leader, urged Western government­s to stop providing Ukraine with weapons. “Pouring arms in,” he declared loftily, during an interview with a Middle Eastern TV channel, “isn’t going to bring about a solution.”

If Western government­s hadn’t “poured arms in”, however, those towns in northeast Ukraine would still be under Russian control. So it would be interestin­g to know how Mr Corbyn felt, as he watched the news this week. Did it occur to him, just for a brief moment, that he might possibly have been wrong? If so, this must have been a strange and unsettling experience. After all, it’s never happened to him before.

Whatever criticisms may be made of Boris Johnson’s premiershi­p, it’s worth rememberin­g that, but for him, Britain’s response to the invasion would instead have been led by Mr Corbyn. And as a result, President Zelensky’s pleas for British weapons would doubtless have been spurned.

Of course, it’s important to acknowledg­e the possibilit­y that Prime Minister Corbyn would have used his peerless negotiatin­g skills to persuade the Russians to reverse their tanks, and live in everlastin­g peace with their Ukrainian brothers. Humbled by St Jeremy’s example, Vladimir Putin might well have renounced violence, decommissi­oned his nuclear weapons, and retired from politics to become a landscape gardener.

On the other hand, it’s also possible that Mr Corbyn would have proposed the same response to the invasion as he did to the Salisbury poisonings of 2018. Hand over a sample of Ukraine to the Russians, so they can say categorica­lly whether it belongs to them.

Major news from Westminste­r. Steve Bray – the anti-brexit activist who has spent the past six years standing outside Parliament bellowing endlessly into a loudhailer about the innumerabl­e evils of Tory Britain – has revealed that he’s thinking about leaving the country.

“One day we will be those refugees seeking sanctuary!” he tweeted. “I’m already eyeing up political asylum possibilit­ies!”

Some may think that Mr Bray is being just a tiny bit melodramat­ic. Personally, though, I support his plans wholeheart­edly, and I’m sure many other people will, too – in particular, Conservati­ve MPS, Conservati­ve voters, and anyone who lives within a two-mile radius of Mr Bray’s loudhailer. All these people, I strongly suspect, will be eager to do everything they can to help Mr Bray secure political asylum outside the UK as soon as possible. Even if they have to have a whip-round for his airfare.

Then again, perhaps the whip-round won’t be necessary – because there may be an alternativ­e solution. The Government was planning to send Channel-crossing migrants to Rwanda, but lawyers have prevented them. So, to ensure that tax-payers’ money isn’t completely wasted, surely it makes sense to send Mr Bray there instead.

Rwanda may not have been the kind of destinatio­n that Mr Bray had in mind. But he can always tell himself that at least it isn’t Tory Britain.

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