'Crusties' and 'hemp-smelling bivouacs': Boris Johnson's elaborate Extinction Rebellion jibes explained – iNews


The Prime Minister’s riposte to the Extinction Rebellion protest in London was characteristically verbose – here’s what the key bits meant

Tuesday, 8th October 2019, 17:58 pm

Updated Tuesday, 8th October 2019, 18:00 pm

Extinction Rebellion have launched a two-week protest in London and around the world (PA)

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Hundreds more members of the climate protest group were warned that they too faced arrest after they spent Monday night camped in Westminster.

Extinction Rebellion protesters managed to blockade large areas of London (AFP via Getty Images)

‘Importunate nose-ringed protesters’

He branded the “importunate nose-ringed” protesters “uncooperative crusties”, who had littered some of London’s most famous landmarks with “hemp-smelling bivouacs”.

Speaking at the launch of a new biography of Margaret Thatcher by Charles Moore, Mr Johnson said: “I am afraid that the security people didn’t want me to come along tonight because they said the road was full of uncooperative crusties and protesters all kinds littering the road.”

The Prime Minister added: “The best thing possible for the education of the denizens of the heaving hemp-smelling bivouacs that now litter Trafalgar Square and Hyde Park would be for them to stop blocking the traffic and buy a copy of Charles’s magnificent book so that they can learn about a true feminist, green and revolutionary who changed the world for the better.”

His assessment of the climate change protest, which is calling on the Government to declare a climate and ecological emergency, was characteristically verbose.

But, for the uninitiated, bits of it might have been a little difficult to decipher (“importunate”, for the record, means annoyingly persistent) – here are all the key bits explained.

Boris Johnson labelled the Extinction Rebellion protesters ‘uncooperative crusties’ (Getty Images)


Nothing to do with bread, clowns from The Simpsons or (presumably) the adjective referring to an annoyed elderly person.

Instead, according to The Cambridge Online Dictionary, “crusties” refers to “a young person who does not live in a way that society considers normal, typically with untidy or dirty clothes and hair, and no regular job or permanent home”.

All of this plays on the stereotype of Extinction Rebellion and other environmental protesters as anarchic, work-shy, tree-hugging, ukele-wielding gap-year students (possibly wearing, as Mr Johnson pointed out, “nose rings”).

However, many of the people who have taken to the streets in support of the current action do not fit the “crusty” stereotype.

Not all of Extinction Rebellion’s protesters conformed to the ‘crusties’ stereotype (AFP via Getty Images)

For example the former Met Police detective sergeant John Curran was present at the Westminster protest, and explained: “We’ve just had the hottest month in history.

“I have a three-year old called Natasha. I look at her and I can’t help but wonder what the world will be like in 20 years time.”

The Times found a wide selection of non-crusties, including a retired deputy head teacher and a former lawyer, both in their 60s, as well as Reverand Gordon Jeanes, 63, the vicar of a southwest London church.

He told the newspaper: “I’m here because climate change is such an important threat and there simply isn’t enough action stopping it.”

Extinction Rebellion closed down London’s Parliament Square, allowing impromptu cricket matches to take place (AFP via Getty Images)


Smelling of “hemp” – a member of the Cannabis sativa plant family which also includes marijuana – is again, presumably, tying into Mr Johnson’s overall “crusties” analysis, given its longstanding association with hippy stereotypes.

However, despite often being lumped in the same bracket as marijuana, which is registered as a Class B illegal drug, “hemp” generally refers to a strain which contains less than 0.3% THC, the active psychoactive element in cannabis plants.

Climate change activists carried tree saplings to the second day of Extinction Rebellion protests (AFP via Getty Images)


The “heaving bivouacs” which Mr Johnson says smell of hemp refer to the dwellings of the protesters who camped out in London overnight used to continue the road blockade.

A “bivouac” can mean any improvised temporary campsite or shelter used to sleep in outside, and is usually used to refer to soldiers or mountaineers.

Sometimes known as a “bivvy”, a bivouac shelter would usually be comparatively flimsy, possibly constructed in the wild using natural materials like branches, leaves and ferns.

Extinction Rebellion protesters camp in their ‘heaving hemp-smelling bivouacs’ in Westminster (PA Wire)

By the average standards of a bivouac, the ordinary hiking tents used by many Extinction Rebellion protesters to stay in place overnight (if they hadn’t glued themselves to government buildings) are comparatively refined.

Hundreds of demonstrators who camped out blocking Horseferry Road were warned that they would be arrested if they didn’t move to Trafalgar Square on Tuesday morning, as police aimed to avoid another day of disruption in the capital.

This article originally appeared here in https://inews.co.uk/news/politics/crusties-bivouacs-meaning-boris-johnson-extinction-rebellion-protest-london-explained-649095

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