XR is not a populist campaign. It isn't seeking widespread support in the same way that a campaign to 'save the whale' or 'find Madelaine' did. Its aims are to get government to act to stop climate change: "Tell the truth", "Act now" and "Beyond politics: crate a citizen's assembly".
According to the XR website: "We are promoting mass “above the ground” civil disobedience – in full public view. This means economic disruption to shake the current political system and civil disruption to raise awareness. We are deeply sorry for any inconvenience that this causes."
The actions we need to take to halt climate change are never going to get the kind of populist support that a tax cut for all would garner. Of course there would be many good things that come out of stopping climate change, better jobs, a future etc. but there will be things that are less popular, e.g. a significant reduction in flying, a significant reduction in privately owned cars, an so on.
We love our cars, our foreign holidays, our freedom, our wings. Our wings will need clipping though. Not an obvious vote winner...
The XR protests over two weeks made headline news during week one. Once again people were discussing climate change. There was disruption and the government got cross, culminating in an illegal fascist state style ban on the protests. But apart from the police ban on the protests there was little coverage in the second week until the tube protest. The XR action to stop the tube got people talking again.
They main arguments against stopping the tube at Canning Town that I've heard are that XR should be promoting public transport and supporting poorer people (Canning Town is a poorer area of London). So stopping a commuter tube taking poorer people to work has triggered calls of hypocrisy.
Also, the reaction of the commuters, i.e. the violent reaction, if anticipated, could be seen to break the NVDA stance of XR.
- There will be no tube system once it floods as the sea level rises.
- Poorer people will be hit hardest as climate change increases its bite, yet XR is seen as a middle class movement.
- There will be violent clashes as people start to starve on the dying planet.
- There would have been only brief coverage and less discussion if the tube stoppage hadn't happened.
So the tube protest woke up more people. It made them angry, perhaps at the wrong group, but it also restarted the conversations.
I think there is a rationale to repeat this type of action in the future. Everyone needs to be part of the discussions. However, to change the government's discussions I also think that action to disrupt the financial sector in the city is more effective and should be the main focus next time.
No one said that climate change was going to be pretty.