The hounding of Greta Thunberg is proof that the right has run out of ideas

(The Guardian, 1 May 2019) With scientists backing her cause, opponents of the young environmental activist have resorted to ugly personal attacks.

Over the past few days, something extraordinary has happened in our politics. A bunch of grown men have begun bullying a schoolgirl. Perhaps you already know who I mean: Greta Thunberg, she of the pigtails and school strikes, who came to Westminster last week and slammed adoring MPs for posturing rather than taking action on climate breakdown, then hoofed it over to St Pancras for the 36-hour train ride back to Stockholm.

Which left the eco-denialists back here with a stonking great headache: how to bash this 16-year-old celeb? Not by dismantling her arguments, not when the scientists and Sir David of Blue Planet back her up. Nor by sniffing around her record, since by definition a teenager hasn’t much of a past to rake over. The standard methods of political warfare off-limits to them, they are trying something new and unusual. They are sinking their teeth into her.

She was “chilling”, declared Brendan O’Neill, editor of the hard-right website Spiked, after picking on her “monotone voice” and “look of apocalyptic dread in her eyes”. Given Thunberg’s openness about her Asperger’s, this was a dog whistle if he knew about it, but it was at best crass if he didn’t: the kid’s on the spectrum! Bringing up the rear were the bloggers at Guido Fawkes, trying to eke a three-course meal out of the morsel that Thunberg’s mum performed in the Eurovision song contest 10 years ago – cast-iron proof of “an incredibly privileged background”. This finding has been gurningly spread on social media by none other than that vomiting dustbin of opinions Toby Young. You don’t need to be much sharper than him to observe that he is the son of a baron who rang Oxford University to get his boy a place.

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The Guardian, 1 May 2019: The hounding of Greta Thunberg is proof that the right has run out of ideas