Artillery Row

Astroturfing XR

Why are Extinction Rebellion pretending not to be linked to “Insulate Britain”?

In news that will shock nobody, “Insulate Britain”, a group who made their debut today by running in front of traffic, (and, it seems, stopping some insulating engineers from getting to work) are being supported by Extinction Rebellion. In a message posted round XR Whatsapp groups, members were told that in the next few weeks the backoffice team for Insulate Britain “will be using the XR police station support (PSS) chats to call out for and organise PSS.”

Extinction Rebellion has a network of “Police Station Support” Whatsapp groups to coordinate moral support for activists who are arrested and taken away for a night in the cells. Free members wait outside and offer them hot coffee and cheer when they are released. Now it seems that Insulate Britain, an apparently brand new group demanding that the Government insulate British homes, will be using that network themselves.

Screenshot seen by Parliament Square

So far so predictable, but despite the message circulated today, Extinction Rebellion claim to have no links with “Insulate Britain”. When Parliament Square asked a press officer for XR if they were collaborating in any way with the new group, the answer was short and sweet: “No, Insulate Britain is nothing to do with XR.”

It’s hard to make it seem like various different groups spontaneously support your cause and PR firms spend millions of pounds trying to pull off this trick. But of all the campaign groups and lobbyists to do this, don’t environmental extremists feel a bit guilty astroturfing?

Enjoying The Critic online? It's even better in print

Try five issues of Britain’s newest magazine for £10

Critic magazine cover