Where There Were No Doors

Follow your bliss and doors will open where there were no doors before - Joseph Campbell

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

What a wanker

I have so much work to do (thanks to losing three and a half days to a computer meltdown) that I really don't have time for any blogging this week. Not even this little entry.

But I just can't contain my indignation and needed to vent it somewhere.

In today's Guardian the current Tory leader Michael Howard (yes, he's still hanging around; like a particularly bad fart in the elevator of British politics) writes about climate change. The basic thrust of his article is that Tony Blair is crap (after all, you wouldn't expect the tory leader to address something as important as climate change without turning it into a petty party political point, would you?) and that "the tories and the US have done better than Blair on climate change" (to cite the subtitle of Howard's piece).

I was recently asked why I never considered taking a more active role in politics. Now, the fact is; at various times I have been very active politically - albeit outside the mainstream. But the questioner was really asking why I chose not to get involved in democratic politics. There are many answers to that question (not least being that pot-smoking intellectuals are unelectable by a public that laps up Big Brother... on some levels I'm an élitist, you see, which is a terrible crime in a world so eager to embrace the decline of human culture). But Michael Howard's article in the Guardian illustrates another very important reason why I could never enter the political arena.

If I were an MP I would feel honour bound, next time I was in the same room as Michael Howard, to walk up and give him a slap. Then say "that's for the 'climate change' piece, you wanker". It'd be like finding yourself in the same room as Bryan Adams. To not give him a slap for that Robin Hood song would make you slightly less of a person.

Michael Howard is a liar. Oh, he's a fairly good politician and I'm sure he can demonstrate the veracity of every specific claim made in the piece. But the broad implication of the piece - that the tories are worthy protectors of the environment - is nonsense of the highest order.

Hands up anyone who believes, that on any individual issue (like building a new runway, bypassing another town, widening another motorway) the tories would ever allow ecological considerations to trump economic ones? OK, so I see a couple of tories with their hands up... but they're just being contrary, even they don't believe it for a second.

The last tory candidate for London Mayor ran on a "Friend of The Motorist" ticket. Seriously. That was a central plank in the rather unsavoury Steve Norris' campaign.

I also love Michael Howard's subtle attempts at historical revisionism. He mentions the fact that Thatcher paid lip-service to the environment and then speaks of the "Conservative-led dash for gas". Don't you see? Thatcher's assault on the coal-mining industry was all about the environment!

Bonus points to those of you who feel like slapping Howard just for claiming that a "dash for gas" is a sensible environmental policy*.

I'm also stunned by Howard's implication that the US's refusal to sign up to the Kyoto Accord is evidence that the Dubya Administration doesn't believe the Accord goes far enough! No, he doesn't say so explicitly, but by tying the refusal to sign with the fact that a number of US States have individually decided to limit emissions, there's no doubt that's the idea he's suggesting.

Also, after suggesting that Kyoto's problem is simply that it's not tough enough for the Americans, he then - a few paragraphs later when you've hopefully forgotten his dissing of the Accord - proudly announces his role as environment minister in 1992 in creating "the framework convention [that] provides the basis for the Kyoto protocol".

Bonus points for those of you thinking "jeez... if you're going to try to use doublethink as a rhetorical device, Michael, at least have the good grace to hide it a bit better".

Here's the thing... theoretically (using efficiency gains and what-not) the economy could continue to grow without stressing the environment any further; and theoretically could even continue to grow whilst easing the stress it places on the environment.

However, in practice it does not, and never has, worked that way. Indeed; in practice there's no real evidence that it ever could work that way. In practice it comes down to a decision to deliberately shrink the British economy in order to help reduce the severity of human-induced climate change. That is the only solution with enough probability of success to make it worth pursuing.

Is Michael Howard suggesting that the tories would choose to abandon economic growth in favour of environmental responsibility? Of course he's not! Hell, even the Greens - with their manifesto commitment of "full employment" - wouldn't dare suggest that. No, Michael Howard is playing pathetic political games, and using a vitally important issue to do so. He's trivialising climate change by making it a debate about whether the tories or Blair have had the least imperceptible effect with their environmental policies.

I was an active environmentalist during the last tory government... the last time they were in a position to implement environmental policy. I haven't forgotten what they were like.

Michael Howard needs a serious slap.

* unless you use that gas to build a truly sustainable infrastructure rather than just to grow the economy to the point where it'll have to burn vastly more coal when the gas runs out.


Blogger L said...

"the tories and the US have done better than Blair on climate change"

that's a pretty harsh insult, considering the fact that the U.S. government seems bound and determined to kill every last tree in order to bring us that much closer to the the Coming Rapture.... ugh

8/6/05 04:51  

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