Tory inaction forcing climate activists to become more provocative, says Harvie

THE inaction of the UK Government is forcing environmental protesters to become angrier and more provocative, Patrick Harvie has said. 

The co-leader of the Scottish Greens said Tory plans to crack down on climate activists were “blaming the messenger”. 

He said: “I think if they want those protests to stop, what they need to do is take the action that even the Government knows is necessary.”

At the Tory Party conference in Manchester, Home Secretary Priti Patel announced activists who block motorways could face unlimited fines and up to six months in jail.

The move followed protests by the Insulate Britain group, which has staged sit-down demonstrations on a series of key arteries around London, including on the M25, M1 and M4.

These have led to angry confrontations with motorists, with the London Ambulance Service appealing to activists to let their drivers pass.

Speaking to The Herald on the eve of the Scottish Greens’ party conference in Edinburgh, Mr Harvie said: “Protest, including peaceful, non-violent direct action has always been a really important part of social and political movements for change.

“In many ways, it’s the inaction of the UK Government that is forcing people to become more and more angry and more and more provocative in the way that they design those actions.”

He said he was “hoping to hear from that Conservative Party conference some kind of big announcement” on issues such as rising fuel prices.

Mr Harvie added: “And all we heard on this agenda from the Conservative Party was they want to make it easier to arrest the activists who are campaigning for change.

“Well, that’s just blaming the messenger.

“I think if they want those protests to stop, what they need to do is take the action that even the Government knows is necessary.”

He said he expected “creative” protests during Cop26.

Mr Harvie and his co-leader Lorna Slater recently joined the Scottish Government as ministers as part of a cooperation agreement with the SNP. 

He said the last few weeks had been “extraordinary” and “challenging”, adding: “There is a pace of work that is way beyond what I had as an MSP.”

The Herald Scotland

The Herald Scotland

The Herald is a Scottish broadsheet newspaper founded in 1783. The Herald is the longest running national newspaper in the world and is the eighth oldest daily paper in the world. The title was simplified from The Glasgow Herald in 1992