Archive for June, 2010
Our Chancellor has been out with his scissors, trying to conceal his glee at the opportunity to roll back the state. 25% welfare cuts? Even Greece isn’t cutting by 25%!!
I’ll save my rant about that for another day. My text today is the language used by our new government. I’ve already praised the PM, unironically, as a skilled and stylish user of English. Most recently, his soundbite “unjustified and unjustifiable” helped to right a 38 year-old wrong.
But what about Georgie? Well the jury’s still out, but I have increasing concerns about his grasp of the vernacular. His familiar soundbite “we are all in this together.” is beginning to grate. A public schoolboy who’ll inherit millions from his Dad obviously knows just how you feel when your benefits are cut, but why does Georgie never use the contracted form? For those of us without tin ears, a tiny tweak to “We’re all in this together” sounds less robotic or….less like something he’s been told to say. Maybe his minders can teach him a new line before somebody thumps him over the head with a copy of Churchill’s collected speeches?
Many of you will know that Lord Lawson (one of Mrs Thatcher’s Chancellors and father to the nicer Nigella) has been born again as a climate change sceptic. In the middle of our recent nasty winter, his thinktank chum Benny Peiser was quoted as saying “We look out of the window and it’s very cold, it doesn’t seem to be warming.” At the time he copped some flak from the Sir John Beddington and other scientific bigshots who suggested that there might possibly be a difference between climate and weather. Benny and his Lordship were unrepentant, barking that a cold snap “proved” that climate change was all tosh.
Fast forward to this summer and here comes the sun! My rain butt, in the notoriously moist Pennines, has been empty for weeks. The North West has had its lowest rainfall since 1929 and – ye Gods – neither Glastonbury nor Wimbledon have been ruined by rain. Hm. And yet Nigel, Benny and co are strangely silent. Not looking out of the window, gentlemen? Whyever not?
This week the defecit hawks won the battle (not the war) to dismantle the welfare state. So let’s raise a glass to one of the very few western leaders who’s used Keynsian policies to protect the vulnerable during a recession, in exactly the way George didn’t. Here’s to Franklin Delano Roosevelt, a Green at heart if ever there was one.
“Oil rigs today generally don’t cause spills. They are technologically very advanced”
Barack Obama 2 April 2010 (Timing is everything)
What, I hear you ask, is the connection between Easter Island and otter poo?
I’ll start with the otters: Calderdale Greens are campaigning against plans to build a huge leisure complex, housing, roads etc in our backyard, otherwise known as the Copley Valley. By any standards, this really is a horror story. There’s a facebook page
http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=111771515513034 , there’s reams of information prepared by the admirable group at the forefront of the campaign, but it was the otters that got me. They are rare, they are cute, they are great for the ecosystem, and their excrement tell us they’re alive and well in the Copley Valley. Until the builders get there.
My link to Easter Island is not tenuous. It’s conservation, or the lack of it a few centuries ago when the islanders ignored the message of their own eyes, cut down the last of the trees, knackered the ecosystem and thus doomed themselves to literal extinction. There’s a famous clip of David Attenborough standing in that treeless landscape asking the camera what that last, stupid islander was thinking. My guess is that he (sorry but it will have been he) was thinking of short term advantages he’d get from that nice Pacific wood. I’ll let you draw the modern inferences yourself – you don’t need me.
More musings on the ongoing destruction of the Gulf of Mexico by BP and their big business buddies, who ignored warnings that there were safety problems at the Deepwater rig. I’m prepared to bet that by now even the most rapacious capitalist on the board wishes they’d turned the oil off while they still damn well could….
However, my main subject today is our old friend ‘Big Government’. We hear so much from the States about the evils of state intervention, and on our side of the pond call-me-Dave echoes it in a worrying way. He calls it big society and wraps it up in a lot of rubbish about helping people to help themselves (works fine for some, not so well for those whose health/social/learning difficulties make it hard for them to help themselves or their children). But don’t be fooled, when you hear our new PM take flight – and he’s a skilful user of language – listen for the hardcore rightwing ideas at the core.
To nip back over the Atlantic, please note how the very same cheerleaders for small government (Fox News, but not only Fox News) are now using the Deepwater catastrophe to berate Pres Obama for not immediately stopping crude oil from gushing out of a huge pipe on the ocean floor. I’m not claiming that better regulation and a properly funded coastguard would have prevented this mess from happening, but it might have helped a bit…..
The title has been supplied by none other than Sir Bernard Ingham, who is at it again in the Hebden Bridge Times. He’s devoted the whole of his monthly column to – well, to me really. His theme is the poor Green vote in the general election and he does of course smirk a little, in writing, while being vaguely generous about me personally. I’ve written a brief response for the paper, but since Sir Bernard thinks it’s an issue, let’s examine it more closely.
At 8.30 a.m. on 7th May I came home from the count, to discover that our 1.66% share of the Calder Valley vote was actually a good average for the Green Party. There was the fantastic news that Caroline Lucas had won in Brighton, but our other two target seats were horribly disappointing: Adrian Ramsey came 4th in Norwich and Darren Johnson saw his vote drop to a mere 6% in Lewisham. People worked incredibly hard and well in both places, and these results are just pants. We can never know for certain, but Caroline’s high profile in the national media probably helped her to weather the ‘main party’ storm.
We’re a small party with no megabucks donors, and Cleggmania (ha!) squeezed us even further off the news agenda than usual. Then in the last week the Tories threatened to scrape an overall majority, so our stupid voting system made people think that they had to vote tactically. In the short term these were all factors beyond the control of the Greens, so we collectively shrugged, celebrated our victory in Brighton and began discussing our next moves. Upwards and onwards, or so we all hope.
I’ll link Sir Bernard’s smirk and my dignified response as soon as they appear online. It was impossible to keep up with all the published stuff during the election campaign – in an ideal world I should take time and do all the links now. But then again…..