Something old, something blue, something borrowed, something green

by | May 12, 2008

Bernard Ingham, former press secretary to Margaret Thatcher, asks in the Yorkshire Post (H/T Benny Peiser):

In the election for London’s Mayor, the Greens got just over three per cent of the vote. Leaving aside such misguided places as Norwich, where the Green Party gained three seats, they struggled elsewhere to poll anywhere near that. […] Yet Labour, Conservatives, Liberal Democrats and Nationalists dance slavishly to the Green tune. […] Why do we put up with this “green” extortion to so little purpose? That’s the real mystery.

We have asked this question before. Environmentalism is a political ideology, yet its influence on policy decisions is not challenged politically in this country, and barely anywhere else. How come?

The closest thing to a challenge are the scientific discussions offered by ‘sceptics’, ‘deniers’, ‘realists’ or whatever you want to call them. Of course, these challenges are waved away by many as ‘politically-motivated’ – as if Environmentalism was above that sort of thing. And there’s the rub. ‘Politics’ has become a dirty word, and Environmentalism fills the void, because, with ‘scientists’ backing it, it is presented as a ‘value free’ set of imperatives that we must all respond to. Environmentalists will tell you that it’s not a question of political values, it’s a matter of material fact, scientifically established by the IPCC. But the truth is that the unchallengeable measurements that the movement depends on do not exist. Instead, science only lends Environmentalism credibility through the ‘precautionary principle‘; it is superficially plausible that anthropogenic CO2 will cause global catastrophe (given a substantial number of mainly political assumptions), therefore it is worth treating the possibility of a nightmare as a certainty, according to this doctrine.

From here, Environmentalism easily becomes a religious world view: we start to see disobedient countries through this prism (Burma and its missing mangrove swamps being the latest example); we start to judge the actions of others through green-tinted spectacles; and we start to do the things that are demanded of us, ‘for the sake of the planet’ – not for a genuine conception of a ‘greater good’, but just the mitigation of a worse bad.

Back to Ingham’s question: the Tories (as any party would) will explain their recent success at the polls as a consequence of their taking green issues more seriously. For example, last Friday, on BBC Radio 4’s Any Questions, Chairman of the Conservative Party, Caroline Spellman, said of the successes her party had enjoyed the previous night,

Our council candidates campaigned very simply on following policies that would deliver a cleaner, greener, safer country, one that is more family friendly, and one that gives tax payers better value for money. That is a very simple message, it’s one that the electorate like, that is why they have returned conservative governments – in local government – because they like what they see.

Spellman’s words offer no political vision whatsoever; just a promise of better management of public (and, most likely, private) life than the Labour Party – which is exactly the basis on which Blair took power from Major in 1997. The vote did not reflect an ideological shift among the public, nor Blair’s resonance with the electorate. But contrast Spellman’s words to those of Sir Bernard’s former boss. Whether you agreed with her or not, Thatcher’s aim was a political transformation of the UK, if not the world. She went Green as that vision was running out of steam, in spite of its success (and she closed far more coal mines than any environmental protest could wish for).

Surely, if anyone knows how that played out, and consequently, why the world seems to have gone green, Ingham does?

Disagreeing that politics is dominated by a green consensus is the Independent‘s Andrew Grice, who complains that “nobody is talking about climate change” anymore.

We might just look back on May Day 2008 as the moment when the power of green politics peaked and went into reverse. I hope I’m wrong, but I doubt it. The reaction of the two main parties to the elections was instructive. Desperate to prop up his own position after Labour’s rout, Mr Brown needed to toss a few bones to the voters and jittery Labour backbenchers. So it suddenly emerged that he was about to dump the so-called “bin tax” – allowing councils to charge householders who do not recycle their rubbish. Downing Street didn’t confirm it, and five token pilot schemes will go ahead, but it’s clear the bin tax has been binned.

A temporary halt to the progress of a law demanding that people recycle, or face punishing fines means that climate is off the agenda, apparently.

Grice goes on to complain about the possibility that a 2 pence rise in petrol/diesel tax will be scrapped – even though the current high price of fuel makes these entirely unnecessary, as the Inland Revenue already takes VAT (17.5%) of the sale price (~£1.108) on top of ~£0.50 a litre of petrol. A genuinely ‘anti green’ policy would surely make fuel cheaper, rather than allow it to get much more expensive. Grice continues:

Mr Brown was not alone in relegating the environment to the back burner. David Cameron, the wind in his sails after the elections, held a prime ministerial press conference in which he set out his priorities for government. Significantly, the words “environment” and “climate change” did not appear in his 1,200-word statement.

It is indeed a rare thing when David Cameron utters 1200 words, none of which are green. These seem to be the ones Grice is referring to. Here is another speech Cameron made shortly before that one:

If Cameron has indeed abandoned the environmental cause, he has done it very suddenly. But there’s nothing in the later speech which contradicts it, in spite of Grice’s claims.

Of course, 1200 is a small number of words. If, perhaps, green was ommitted from Cameron’s speech, it was because the cause has been fully embraced by all of the parties. Why mention it? Likewise, does the fact that we can find 1200 words uttered recently by Caroline Lucas that include no reference to the environment mean that our favourite Green Party MEP has also turned her back on Mother Nature? As is the case with most shrill environmentalists, Grice confuses omission with opposition. It is what Cameron didn’t say which upsets him. A bit like a failure to say Amen after a prayer, or to say grace before a meal; it offends religious sensibilities. So Grice treats it as a statement that the Tories have dropped all green policies, and are to stand against them in the future.

No such luck. And, as is clear from the past, the Conservatives have been key to establishing environmental orthodoxy in the UK.

The reason there is no challenge to Environmentalism is that there is nothing to challenge Environmentalism with. Instead, Environmentalism, and the senses of crisis and urgency it generates, are useful vehicles for policies for the sake of policies, and for the purfunctory policy initiatives that masquerade as ‘progress’. Historically, for example, it has been sufficient to announce programs to build new homes on the basis that places for people to live are a good thing. New towns, however they turned out, were planned on the premise that it would make life better, and society more rewarding. Now, homes themselves are problematic. The very idea of housing developments upsets people. They use up resources and roads. They change the view. They are the manifestation of the idea that ‘hell is other people’. Environmentalism is on hand to furnish ways in and out of that problem. For those wishing to resist new developments, instead of making selfish objections to the planning process, they can appeal to the ‘greater good’, and claim that the principle of environmental ‘sustainability’ has not been given due attention. Developers, in reply, can greenwash their proposal, to claim that the greater good is being served. Never mind that homes are supposed to be all about people.

Politics today, whether it be Cameron’s or Grice’s, needs crises – real, or imagined – in order to maintain their relevance to an increasingly disengaged public. These appeals to catastrophe are wrapped up in the language of political change. But claims to be about radical change for the sake of “SAVING THE PLANET” belie an exhausted political perspective on the world that increasingly fails to connect with the public in any other way than through high drama, and struggles to distance itself from its opposition.

The current success of the Conservative Party follows the descent of the Labour party, whose 1997 success followed the descent of the Tories, who had enjoyed, since 1978, success at the polls after Labour’s problems in the 1970s. It seems that rather than winning elections, parties loose them. We punish their embarassing yet inevitable failure to connect with the public and reward their increasing mediocrity. This is the environment that Environmentalism has thrived in.

Critics of Environmentalism from the right claim that it is the reincarnation of failed socialism. Clearly, that criticism is incomplete. Critics of Tory policy, such as Grice, claim that ‘vote blue, go Green’ rhetoric is nothing more than spin; empty gestures to convince the public that it is responding to their fears. This too misses the point that that is also the very nature of the environmental movement, which has, like conservative ideologies of the past, used such fear to stand in the way of progress and harked back to traditional ways of life and natural social orders, lest unintended consequences of change cause upheaval.

Challenging environmental orthodoxy will take more than not mentioning it. That is not because Environmentalism is a powerful political idea, but because it exists as a consequence of the inability of political perspectives – Left and Right – to reflect on their own collapse.


  1. talisker

    Go on then – why don’t you tell us what brave new idea might fill the political vacuum that you’re continually droning on about? Or has Frank Furedi – whose views you parrot so faithfully – still not quite worked out a coherent political programme to be propagated by the loyal cadres?

    Never mind. I’m sure when he does so it will prove just as persuasive as that of the Revolutionary Communist Party that he led into the UK election of 1987. Not a single one of its candidates attracted enough votes to retain their deposit.

    It was this spectacular failure to connect with the public that led Frank and his crew to conclude that politics was bankrupt. Sadly, the sour grapes that they’ve been busily munching ever since have only been made more acid by the emergence of environmentalism as a powerful new motivating force in society.

    Don’t these upstarts know that politics has been declared officially dead? Or hang on, could it be that what environmentalists do isn’t politics at all? Yes, that’s it! It’s religion – and not just any religion, but a death cult no less!

  2. editors


    You seem to have read more about and by Frank Furedi than we have. You don’t, however, seem to have actually read this site, or your contributions would be more constructive than they are, and you would know that our argument is precisely that environmentalism absolutely is politics. Albeit bad politics. That’s the problem.

    As for “the emergence of environmentalism as a powerful new motivating force in society”… the trouble is that it isn’t a powerful new motivating force. It’s something that we are told should motivate us, but which most of us are still not motivated by. But hey, that’s our problem isn’t it.

    That said, we enjoyed your grape metaphor.

  3. Anonymous

    But you are measuring the Green vote very narrowly.

    Once you add in second preferences in the mayoral vote, nearly 1 in 6 Londoners expressed support for Green politics.

    And in the Assembly vote the Green percentage held up (meaning with higher turnout many more people voted Green than last time), while the Lib Dem vote collapsed. Do you regard this as a repudiation of liberalism?

  4. Editors

    Anon complains that, according to second preferences nearly 1 in 6 Londoners support for Green Policies. By which, we presume that they voted for the Green Party.

    The percentage figure given at suggests that the Green candidate took 331,727 second preference votes, or 16.55% of the vote. This percentage is indeed approximately one in six. But is one in six much to be pleased with?

    The figure also doesn’t take into account the votes cast, where no second preference was expressed. Out of 2,456,990 votes, 412,054 were rejected, or gave no second preference. That turns the 16.55% into 13.5%, or 1 in 7, getting on for 1 in 8.

    Furthermore, the turnout – which anon is positive about – was 45.33%, or 2,456,990 of an electorate of 5,419,913. This reduces the 13.55% still further, to 6.1%, or one in sixteen.

    And it was only a second preference vote.

    So Anon’s claim that “nearly 1 in 6 Londoners expressed support for Green politics” is very much mistaken.

  5. Romario

    I know Gerald Celente has been saying it for a while, and faanrg has been sounding the alarm for at least 18 months, that the goal is to distract from, and delay the beginning of, the inevitable economic collapse of the US, by invading/attacking Iran. Barely hidden the last three years in msm is the reek of the anti-Iranian propaganda.(It will not work, like all their assbackwards thinking: how long would Iran hold up against us? Three days?. Even braindead redstaters understand total victory doesn’t cost huge multi-trillion dollar austerity measures.)Wajey wakey!!! Pay attention now, ok??? Here it is the straight skinny, and I don’t need a blog or newsletter to tell ya.Back during WWII, George H.W. Bush’s father Prescott, was busted and had his assets seized under the Trading with the Enemy Act : he was shipping fuel to the Nazi war machine, Rockefellar oil. He never suffered any loss of liberty or faced any criminal charges though, oddly enough. He then becomes mentor to one Richard M. Nixon immediately after the war ends. The OSS becomes the CIA under Truman, and actually brings vicious killers and torturers of the Nazi spy services back into the US (Operation Paperclip) and uses them to staff the CIA. Nixon gets elected as California congressman. A researcher turns up a message, written on US Congress letterhead and located now in the Library of Congress, a request from the office of The Honorable Richard M. Nixon to excuse a witness from testifying, because Nixon was using him in undercover work. His name? jack Rubenstein. The date? 1947. Again, 1947.Chosen as VP candidate, and placed in office when Ike wins, Nixon has debate with Russian leader, in which he claims any American can freely move to the USSR if they choose. Immediately, Lee Harvey Oswald applies to leave. After Oswald had spent time in North Carolina, receiving training at Naval Intelligence for infiltrating the USSR. All this historical fact and easily verified for those interested enough to want to know what is going on.At (what would become) BP’s request, and urged by Secretary of State John Foster Dulles, the Eisenhower administration tasked the CIA to overthrow the elected president of Iran. Historical fact. After they murdered the elected president that had nationalized the oilfields of Iran to benefit the Iranians over BP, they installed the tyrant Shah.Then, as Jesse at Jesse’s Cafe Americain points out: a year later, Eisenhower warned us of a military/industrial complex. Warns of crazy Texas oilmen that want to end Social Security. The following year, John F. Kennedy stated the CIA was to be disbanded. He signed a E.O. that had the Treasury print the $2 bills, and made the coins almost 95% silver. He stated he would end the Oil Depletion Allowance racket. H.R. Hunt of Texas, a Texas oilman, distributes had nailed up Wanted: dead or alive posters of JFK plastered all over Dulles before he arrived, then ran and hid out of the country right after the hit.G.H.W. Bush was there, photographed outside the TSBD. The CIA’s Howard Hunt, one of the Watergate burglars, gave a death bed confession. Any questions?????????? Nixon knew Jack Ruby at least 16 years before he shot Oswald. J. Edgar Hoover wrote a warning message to the State Dept Security stating someone was impersonating a Lee Harvey Oswald and using his passport. That was 1960, the note still exists. Oswald was in the USSR in April of 1960. Oddly enough, there is a three page Evaluation Oswald took for the Texas Employment agency in April of 1960. Oswald left the USSR in June that year. Somehow, he was in Texas and the USSR in April that year .Meanwhile, the Iranians finally have enough of the Shah’s antics, they overthrow him, took the CIA personnel at the US Embassy hostage (all of them were CIA.) It was confirmed last week that the October Surprise in 1980 was indeed factual, and in an all-time case of Irany , G.H.W. Bush flies to Paris and negotiates with the Iranians that tossed the puppet his daddy and friends (John Foster Dulles) had installed.After JFK is murdered by George Herbert Walker Bush’s CIA (with help from others) John Foster Dulles’ brother Allen, the one JFK shitcanned as CIA director, is named to be on the Warren Commission investigating the assassination. You can’t make this shit up. J.F. Dulles was the THIRD Secretary of State in his family. Wiki him and see.Which brings us to the present day: Who did the late Sherman Skolnick always claim was CIA? Hillary Clinton. Who, as Secretary of State, was going around the last 6-8 weeks making bellicose and belligerent threats against Iran? Hillary Clinton. Look, I gave you the map, and a key to the car: do I have to drive you all the way home??? Hold on ..Obama serves at the CIA’s pleasure. He does what he is told. Two days ago, we got the treat of seeing him surrounded by Nancy Pelosi, married to a Jewish man, and her kids all married to Jewish Americans, she’s never seen a Bush or Obama War Supplement Bill she didn’t love, nor ever decline an invitation to any AIPAC shindig, and neither does Cheney. Also surrounding Obama while he signed this Embargo of Iran into law, was the Zionist U.S. Rep. Cantor, the Zionist U.S. Rep. Wiener, the Zionist U.S. Rep. Hoyer, and some other token black. One would almost think one was in Israel. It’s okay, we got PLENTY money to do their bidding.And who has been targeting Iran and coveting their oil for decades?Tel Aviv to Obama: Jump! Obama: How high, Massa? How many MOSSAD were at Langley, and assigned there, prior to 9/11/01? Word people: the BlackOps CIA is David Rockefellar’s personal hit squad.They are Big Oil’s Enforcement Arm: the shock troops, the military comes in and secures it afterward. And like in the US, the CIA rigs the ballots to insure the result they desire. They have done so since they had to off RFK to keep the Kennedy’s from controlling the White House for 50 years. It’s just easier to be plugged into the electronic counting. The CIA would not be killed, the president would. Obama is no fool, just a coward. Taking the easy road he knows is evil. He knows this. So, you should know this: there is to be no guilt when you fight back against these sleaze balls. None: You are the defenders of the American Way. You are standing up to Fascism unlike the Germans.Remember that: we are not Germans, we are Americans. We will not give these bastards our country. Their lies we do not hear.faanrg


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