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No, Just Stop Oil is not the new Suffragettes

The eco-zealots smashing up the National Gallery want to clobber humanity, not liberate it.

Lauren Smith

Topics Culture Politics UK

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Just Stop Oil (JSO) is up to its usual tricks again. Earlier today, two JSO activists walked into the National Gallery in London and smashed the protective glass over Diego Velázquez’s Rokeby Venus.

The two fresh-faced vandals had the same demand as always – for the UK government to stop all new oil and gas licences. (Unfortunately for them, it looks like more drilling is set to be announced by prime minister Rishi Sunak in the King’s Speech tomorrow.)

The official JSO account on X / Twitter swiftly posted a video of the stunt. The two activists, Hanan (22) and Harrison (20), can be seen taking hammers to the painting’s protective glass. They then knelt down and trotted out the usual stuff about the government failing them and the world being on the brink of collapse. ‘They don’t care about us, they don’t care about our futures’, wailed Hanan. Harrison, whose voice apparently broke last week, said that ‘millions will die due to new oil and gas licences – MILLIONS!’ The pair have since been arrested.

As JSO nodded to when posting the video, this is not the first time that the Rokeby Venus has been targeted for a political cause. Famously, Suffragette Mary Richardson slashed the canvas of the painting with a meat cleaver in 1914, in retaliation for the arrest of fellow Suffragette Emmeline Pankhurst.

And so these eco-zealots are attempting to invoke the legacy of the women’s suffrage movement – to present themselves as its modern-day, direct-action-taking heirs. Harrison (the squeaky one) even referenced Pankhurst during the stunt, quoting her line about why activists must ‘make more noise than anybody else’.

These comparisons are self-aggrandising and absurd. Just Stop Oil is a cult of privileged doom-mongers. It has absolutely nothing in common with the pioneers of women’s rights. The Suffragettes fought to emancipate half of the population, while Just Stop Oil wants to impoverish the world. The women’s suffrage movement took direct action to advance democracy. The green movement disrupts the lives of ordinary people to advance an anti-human ideology that would eviscerate our living standards and freedoms.

I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that history will not look back on the juvenile attention-seeking of Just Stop Oil with the same fondness and gratitude that it does on the Suffragettes. We should reject this desperate attempt to bathe in their glow.

Lauren Smith is an editorial assistant at spiked.

Picture By: YouTube

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Topics Culture Politics UK

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