I walked down Villiers Street to Embankment Tube station. In front of me were two Extinction Rebels, a mother and daughter. Strapped to the little girl’s back was a white teddy bear. Strapped to the bear’s back was the handwritten slogan: ‘You selfish gits. Stop burning down my house.’ I wonder how they knew I was a selfish git, since I wore no emblem to announce the fact. Luckily they did not know I was off to a large party of fellow selfish gits to launch volume III of my biography of Mrs Thatcher. It was taking place in the Banqueting House, Whitehall, yards from XR’s encampment, and was eloquently addressed by our git-friendly Prime Minister, who referred to them as ‘uncooperative crusties’. Had they found us out, they might have tried to gatecrash.
On the whole, the Extinction Rebels were peaceful. When I walked through their gathering the following morning, the scene reminded me of the Fourth of June at Eton, with ordinary parents in ordinary tents and nouveaux riches ones in huge picnic tents with pseudo-Georgian plastic windows and large drinks areas at the front. Also as at the Fourth of June, the women appraised one another’s outlandish hats as they promenaded. But as I passed the Treasury, a great howl went up, as the patron saint of us selfish gits, Jacob Rees-Mogg, strode past. Suddenly the mood altered and the previously herbivorous crowd chased after him, shouting angry slogans and attempting to corner him before he passed through the back entrance to Downing Street. We selfish gits, I realise, must assert ourselves. We should wear that description with pride, as Young Conservatives started a Vermin Club when Aneurin Bevan, after the war, had called the Tories ‘lower than vermin’. We, after all, are many, and these holy families with tiny girls who write out slogans of contempt for us are few.
This article is an extract from Charles Moore’s Spectator Notes, available in this week’s magazine.