I can’t keep quiet any more. I’ve got to say something on the Conservative-led Coalition’s total failure to be ‘the greenest government ever’ – a backfire as bad as Gordon Brown’s claim to ‘put an end to boom and bust.’
I’ve tried to stay away from politics recently – on my blog and on Facebook/Twitter, anyway. This is partly because I’ve been too busy to argue, and partly because if you suddenly find a close friend wants to bring back hanging or massacre thousands of badgers, you find yourself looking at them askance. Some things it’s best just not to know.
Also, you’re a woman talking about politics, even if you’ve got a PhD and a top job and are raising five children single-handed, you’ll still find you are open to massive levels of patronisation and condescension. Politics, it seems, is a man’s game. Take, for example, the way Harriet Harman, the deputy Labour leader and former minister for women, is referred to (largely by right-wing males on politics forums) as Harriet ‘Harm-man’ or Harriet ‘Hate Men.’ Hilarious. Or the massive focus on Conservative MP Louise Mensch’s looks – and the abuse she received on Twitter as a result of it. Or even the way Anne Widdecombe is constantly held up as an example of ugliness, despite the fact they regularly have to replace the mirrors in the entire House of Lords because they keep spontaneously smashing. In all three cases, whatever you think of their politics, the women’s sexuality has been used as a tool to denigrate and devalue their opinions and credibility. Nobody thinks Zac Goldsmith, Conservative MP for Richmond, must be a moron because he has the looks of a Greek god. It’s totally one-sided.
But I didn’t really want to talk about that – I’ve kind of veered off message a bit. What I wanted to say is that, as a left-leaning woman with strong environmental interests, I have deep concerns about what’s going on with this government, and I just want to put them out there. I read this this morning – don’t be put off by the dodgy spelling, it makes some interesting points about how the Conservatives massively over-stated the damage Labour did to the economy while in power, which has proved to be something of an own goal as now the markets don’t take us seriously, leading to sluggish growth (as apparently we’ve had some, even if it’s invisible to the naked eye.)
Environment-wise, it’s not just the woolly-headed thinking over the badger culls, or that nonsense about selling off the forests, or the failure to introduce legislation to protect our declining bee population, or the fact that the Conservative’s pre-election promise of being ‘the greenest government ever’ was really just a massive great lie. What’s going on in the energy sector is particularly alarming. Today, it was announced that Peter Lilley MP, climate change sceptic and oil company director, has been appointed to the House of Commons energy and climate change select committee. Christ. That’s like sticking a fox in charge of a hen house – and, together with Osborne’s attempt to slash funding to wind farms while offering tax breaks to companies engaging in the high-risk, environmentally damaging activity of drilling for gas in the pristine waters off Scotland – indicates that the government is in the pockets of the multi-trillion pound non-renewable energy industry.
As consumers, this is likely to impact negatively, not just on our environment, but on our wallets. With oil getting more and more scarce, but few resources invested in any of the credible alternatives (of which there are many) our increasing dependence on non-renewable resources will see energy prices soaring sky-high in years to come. They’ll have us over an (oil) barrel. In the meantime, my blood is boiling – a bit like the North Sea when the drilling starts.
That said, there is a (slight) upside to the government’s failure to turn the flagging economy around. In times of recession, when people are looking to make savings at home, they turn the central heating down. Helped by mild weather and the insane prices of fuel, this has led to the UK making the biggest savings in greenhouse gases in the EU over the last year. Austerity has an upside environmentally, but that’s probably not much consolation to the pensioners shivering in their unheated homes. The sensible thing is for the Powers That Be to start investing in renewable energy that will make it affordable to heat our homes without tearing the environment a new bumhole at the same time. Come on, Conservatives – or Lib Demmers, where the hell are you in all this? Sort it out.
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