Yesterday, tens thousands of teenagers across the UK and elsewhere took part in a climate strike, to protest the lack of action on climate change by their elders who have spent the past 30 years doing very little about it - other than an embarrassingly large number of those older people pretending it’s not happening.
The movement was given its momentum by a 16-year-old Swedish girl called Greta Thunberg, who has written “I think enough people have realised just how absurd the situation is. We are in the middle of the biggest crisis in human history and basically nothing is being done to prevent it. I think what we are seeing is the beginning of great changes and that is very hopeful”. But not everyone was on board.
Right-wing politicians were there to demonstrate their tin ear response, with Andrea Leadsom (who wanted to be Tory leader) whining “It’s called truancy, not a strike”, and James Cleverly, who isn’t, thinking he was terribly funny, rather than terrible, telling “Climate Campaigner: ‘Who wants to bunk-off school on Friday and join in with a climate change protest?’ School kid: ‘You had me at bunk-off school.’” What he doesn’t understand is that schoolchildren are doing this of their own volition.
There was also that section of our free and fearless press for which the promotion of climate change denial has become a way of life, and this was epitomised by those at the increasingly alt-Right Spectator magazine, for which the loathsome Toby Young proceeded to demonstrate his total lack of self-awareness in no style at all.
Tobes pretends once more that it’s not happening “If children really must wag their fingers at older generations for some imaginary sin [my emphasis], I wish they’d do it at the weekend. Better still, they could combine it with picking up litter, which really might do something for the environment. The fact that so many students have been taken in by Greta Thunberg’s crude propaganda is an argument for raising the voting age to 21, not lowering it to 16”. As opposed to crude climate change denial propaganda.
Labour’s deputy leader Tom Watson was not impressed. “The sight of a fifty-something man - who claims to be an educationalist - trolling and bullying a 16-year-old girl, who simply wants nations of the world to have an urgent debate about climate change, is very disturbing”. Tobes was most unhappy at being called out for being Himself.
“What patronising nonsense, @tom_watson. Challenging the misleading statements by @GretaThunberg does not constitute ‘trolling and bullying’. You cannot simultaneously argue that 16-year-olds should have the vote and that debating with them robustly is ‘trolling and bullying’”. Patronising as in telling them to pick litter at the weekend.
Helen Mallam had seen enough. “Toby Young says students demonstrating over the inaction on #ClimateBreakdown should strike on their own time, not realising that this is their time. This is their time”. Hannah Jane Parkinson put it more bluntly.
“Toby Young, a 55-year-old man, also spends this entire article bullying a 16-year-old. a 16-year-old who has already achieved so much more than young ever has, unless we're counting being kicked off his own bad film set for being so fucking annoying”. And it took an intervention from Greta Thunberg to make the obvious point.
“British PM says that the children on school strike are ‘wasting lesson time’. That may well be the case. But then again, political leaders have wasted 30 yrs of inaction. And that is slightly worse”. Political leaders and that part of the media class who have made a good living peddling puerile and wasteful climate change denial propaganda. Like Toby Young and his pals at the Spectator and elsewhere.
And the best that this fifty-something failure can do right now is to whinge “they should pick up litter at the weekend”. Like that will force Governments across Europe and elsewhere to quit screwing around and do something, instead of letting climate change get out of hand and treating it like nothing more than a joke. Toby Young has lost this one big time.
He’s failed at everything else - now he’s failed to bully a schoolgirl. What a clown.
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