Peter Tatchell: Just Stop Oil should target bosses and banks rather than disrupting public

The veteran activist said public disruption should be kept to a minimum

Climate activists should keep public disruption to a minimum and instead focus on targeting the bosses of oil and gas companies, government ministers and banks, Peter Tatchell has said.

The lifelong human rights campaigner, who is known for his LGBT activism, praised groups such as Just Stop Oil and Extinction Rebellion for putting the climate emergency on the political agenda.

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However, he said it was important to keep the public onside. He made the comments during a live recording of Iain Dale and Jacqui Smith's For the Many podcast at the Edinburgh Fringe.

Just Stop Oil protesters block a road in London last year. Picture: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty ImagesJust Stop Oil protesters block a road in London last year. Picture: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images
Just Stop Oil protesters block a road in London last year. Picture: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images

Mr Tatchell’s past actions include twice attempting a citizen's arrest of former Zimbabwean president Robert Mugabe, as well as campaigning for LGBT rights through the direct action group OutRage!, which was founded in 1990.

Asked about the tactics of Just Stop Oil and Extinction Rebellion, the 71-year-old said: "Of course, you always want to keep the public on side. OutRage! did some quite provocative, confrontational things which were necessary in the context, because the powers that be would not listen and not negotiate. We were always very mindful to seek to appeal to public support, because we felt if we had public support, that would give politicians the confidence to change."

Mr Tatchell referenced campaigns around equalising the age of consent and the ban on gay people in the armed forces.

He said: "The climate emergency is so severe that we have to do something. Now, I don't agree with every single thing that Just Stop Oil and Extinction Rebellion have done, but I think they have been hugely successful in putting the climate emergency on the public and political agenda.

"They have raised awareness far more successfully than anybody else. Now, I would prefer if they kept the public disruption to a minimum. I think a bit of public disruption is OK, but not stopping people from getting to work, not for prolonged periods disrupting the flow of traffic and so on.

"I've said to them time and time again, I think you should target the government, and all the government ministers and MPs who backed the 100 new oil and gas licenses. Superglue yourself to their front doors or their cars, I'm fine about that – but of course you'll pay the consequences."

He added: "And the same with the directors and managers of the fossil fuel companies, and the banks that are funding the fossil fuel companies – those should be the targets, and I think the public would be much more onside if that was the focus. Now, of course, Just Stop Oil’s justification is that they've tried doing that and they've got negligible publicity. Well, I think you just have to keep on trying. You've got to keep the public onside."

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Elsewhere, Mr Tatchell condemned the “demonisation” of trans people and the “horrendous, toxic atmosphere” around the debate. He called for a “civilised, humane, polite discussion” and said both sides should “cool it”.

He also said people such as JK Rowling have had their views “unjustly misrepresented”.



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