Make Us Let You Eat Less Cake

by | Jul 17, 2009

We’ve flagged up Energy and Climate Change Secretary Ed Miliband’s relationship with climate activists before. When he’s not snuggling up to Franny ‘Age of Stupid’ Armstrong, he’s egging on airport protesters and comparing them to past popular movements:

When you think about all the big historic movements, from the suffragettes, to anti-apartheid, to sexual equality in the 1960s, all the big political movements had popular mobilization. Maybe it’s an odd thing for someone in government to say, but I just think there’s a real opportunity and a need here.

He continued in this vein at the weekend when speaking to demonstrators at a Climate Justice event organised by Catholic aid agency CAFOD and Christian Aid:

The Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, Ed Miliband urged people to continue to fight for climate justice at a rally in Doncaster at the weekend, emphasising the public’s ability to influence international green policies […]

“I think it’s incredibly important that we show governments around the world that people really care about these issues and days like today are incredibly important” Miliband told the campaigners.

“I think we are winning the battle” Miliband added. “It is an uphill struggle, but I think it’s a battle we can win and you are contributing to it by what you do today and what you are doing in your daily lives.”

“I genuinely believe that people will make the difference to whether this challenge is tackled or not and I urge you to not succumb to the defeatism that says, ‘oh well, people can’t make a difference in this, it’s really about whether governments do their bit or not’.

“I think we need to keep up the good work between now and December if we are going to get the kind of ambitious deal on climate change that we need,” he added.

But it’s not ‘the people’ influencing climate policies. Miliband is desperate, desperate, desperate to make it look like we’re all green now, and that we’re all marching in the streets. But this image does not compare to reality. Just 400 people turned up to the rally, held in Doncaster, which has a population just shy of 300,000, and lies just 20 miles from Sheffield (population 1.8 million). Even in his own constituency, with his own party activists, and with the support of a number of church groups and environmental campaigning organisations, Miliband cannot raise more than a handful of supporters. There are, regularly, and throughout the country, village and school fêtes with a bigger turn-out. More people were in supermarkets in Doncaster that day, than were at the rally. More people were in their cars, or enjoying the warm weather in their gardens.

Yet Miliband continues to play Noah. Why? Speaking at the end of the rally, he said:

“I want to congratulate Cafod on its Climate Justice campaign. We need to keep up the good work between now and December if we are going to get the kind of ambitious deal on climate change that we need,” Mr Miliband said.

The electorate didn’t ever vote for what the Government are doing to ‘save the planet’ – the UK public have been denied the opportunity to have their interest in environmentalism tested at the ballot box – Miliband knows that. His public appearances are intended to maintain the illusion that he is responding to a popular movement, and has to whip up as much support as he can muster from anyone prepared to pose alongside him.

Miliband’s courting of the radical environmental movement has had the result of attracting their attention. The latest climate protest at the site of the planned Kingsnorth power station aimed to form a ‘giant human chain’, or Mili-Band (geddit?) around the existing plant. But although this protest numbered a slightly bigger 1,000 activists (they reckon), this is hardly the demonstration of popular uprising that Miliband wants it to be, and the ‘giant human chain’ only extended a small way around the site.

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1,000 protesters turned up at Kingsnorth demanding that no new power plants should be built, and that they pledged to use direct action to prevent it. Meanwhile, the remaining 60,942,912 people of the UK weren’t at the protest, and probably all of them used electricity.

Oxfam activists were also in attendance at the Mili-Band. The ‘development’ charity encourages people to take direct action against… erm… development.

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So few in numbers are these protesters, that the only way they can get their message across is by pulling stunts rather than actual ‘demonstration’ – the only thing such small number really demonstrate is impotence. Impotence manifests as rage, however, and so conceited are these individuals that in spite of their failure to reproduce their message, that they threaten sabotage if they aren’t heeded.

So what is all this in aid of?

This has all happened as New Labour starts making announcements about its Carbon Transition Plan, which outlines how it likes to think the UK will meet its target of a 34% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions from 1990 levels by 2020:

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The protesters fancy themselves as revolutionary thinkers that stand against the government, and ‘the system’. But look, here they are, doing the government’s PR work for them: organising events and speaking opportunities, and creating the illusion of grass-roots support. Behind this facade, the Labour Party are suffering perhaps their worst domestic crisis of legitimacy ever. The UK government has lost any moral authority in the international arena that it ever had. A paltry opposition fails to challenge any of its ideas. A supine media fails to hold it to account. And the activists come out ten-by-ten to save the whole undignified lot. This ark is a ship of fools. It’s not designed to save people from the climate; it’s designed to save themselves from the near-total collapse of their credibility.


  1. Robert Wood

    It’s weird to see an elected government executive pleading for civil disobedience in support of his policy.

    Maybe the intellectual Milliwatt is meeting resistance in cabinet??

  2. Robert Wood

    As another example of insane government actions, here in Canada, the Ontario Provincial government is:

    1. Insisting on shutting down a large proportion of the province’s electricity generation capacity.
    2. Propelling windmills.
    3. Is going to pay $10,000 to people who buy electric cars.

    OK, so how are they going to charge up their electric cars? Is the provincial government opposed to, or in favour of, eklectricity>

    My answer to my question runs along the lines of: “McGuinty, or Milliwatt in the Uk case, are simply playing to their bourgeois dinner party hosts, that they mistakenly take as being representative of public opinion.”

  3. Verpeas

    I’ve been diving into the Greenpeace (UK) website a little over the past few weeks (sorry, I know but I like to dance with the devil) and am struck by the number of postings without any comments on them at all. Unlike this one where there is quite lively debate. I’m not actually against being a bit frugal, saving petrol and electrictity and so on, it helps in the pocket rather than for any great crusade, and left a few posts on their site. Its quite easy to wind them up when in fact I’m probably greener than any of them. The entry with the biggest number of posts was the one where I stirred it up a bit, otherwise you see (0) postings everywhere. A representative body of opinion? I don’t think so!

  4. Verpeas

    “Save Creation at Copenhagen”? Oh, we get religion into it now do we? Where are they coming from? Ah I see, yes, if we all return to a basic ignorant peasantry then we will all turn back to the church. Is that it do you think?

    Hang on though, doesn’t the bible preach “Go forth and multiply” and also “the Lord will provide”. Its a bit high handed of these churchy type to think that their actions would help God in any way isn’t it. Just stick to praying guys, and let Him get on with it.

  5. Spence

    I’m just trying not to laugh about the windmills behind Ed in the third video. Of three windmills, two are… completely still. And the third looks like it’s turning at a small fraction of capacity. It isn’t like there is no wind either – you can see Ed’s hair blowing.

    The failings of wind power, promoted right there is a video that is supposed to support it. Yet even though the problems are obvious and staring them in the face, the government and its supporters can’t see it.

  6. crsmumby

    Spence – after your top tip, I watched the non-turning windmills behind our Ed. Very funny.

    Although I recommend muting the sound ;-)

  7. Ian Wilson

    Re Verpeas comment above.

    I thought I’d have a look on the greenpeace website as well, and you are absolutely correct. There is maybe 1 in 6 or 8 posts that has 1 comment and about 1 in 20-30 that has more than 1 comment.

    It is very funny to see how little they are able to “engage” with the general population – perhaps everyone is out protesting against coal fired power stations, or maybe they’ve all switched off their PCs to go green?

    I’ll have to start some baiting as well, if I can ever be bothered to get round and register with them….

  8. art west

    The contrast between the pitifully small number of eco-protesters and the massive numbers of anti-Iraq War marchers couldn’t be greater, yet the government has the gall to suggest that it is public pressure driving their eco-policies!

  9. Alex Cull

    An excellent point by art west; here’s a link to a BBC news article about people marching against the Iraq war in 2003:

    There were many people opposed to the war or who had strong doubts about WMD and the wisdom of invading Iraq – and the Blair government pushed on, regardless.

    It is difficult to avoid the conclusion that the current regime really do not listen, just pretend that they are doing so when it suits them.

  10. George Carty

    From the Depleted Cranium blog:

    The notion that humanity needs to be absolutely zero CO2 producing is absurd. Right now we produce billions and billions of tons a year, and clearly that is more than the various natural carbon sinks of the earth can absorb, but the notion that we should never ever use hydrocarbon fuels in any application is unrealistic.

    I tend to think of CO2 producing energy sources in the same way as I think of something like saturated fat or cholesterol in one’s diet. It’s unhealthy to have a diet that is very high in saturated fat, but that does not mean that it is necessary to have zero milligrams of saturated fat in your diet. That would be extremely difficult to get to and probably wouldn’t have any greater benefit to it than just keeping the number reasonably low.

    Anyway, when it comes to “throwing out all the CO2 they please.” let me put it this way – I don’t consider it my responsibility to suffer in the cold and dark for the sake of the atmosphere, because my government has created a regulatory structure that has forced most of our energy to come from fossil fuels. I’m the first one to write to elected representatives or try to drum up support for other options, but don’t expect me to take one for the team because of someone else’s sheer incompetence. Rationing of energy is never the answer to anything except perhaps an overly healthy economy.

  11. John Bailo

    You sir, win the Golden Prize for insight.

    Yes, absolutely!

    Climate change (and the Obama Presidency) are the rallying cries of the elites, the plutocrats and their bureaucrats. “The People” have not spoken a wit about it all except to say “why are you raising my taxes”.

    The last thing the powers that be would want is a world where everyone has a temperate climate…we would need less oil, less electricity. The last thing they would want is a Hydrogen economy, with fuel derived from water.

    “Greens” “oppose” both these things. As such Obama becomes the willing dupe of the elites. His principle legislative lifetime achievement being to hand deliver 2 Trillion dollars of the peoples tax monies to his cronies and backers.

  12. George Carty

    The “hydrogen economy” is a scam because most of the hydrogen we currently produce (for non-energy uses) is produced from fossil fuels (chiefly natural gas).

    Not only is it more efficient to use fossil fuels directly rather than making hydrogen from them, hydrogen is also a very inconvenient fuel (its molecules are so tiny that leaks are a huge problem, and the energy-per-unit-volume sucks, to name just two problems).

    I think synthetic hydrocarbons (or perhaps methanol or ethanol) produced using nuclear energy would be the ultimate replacement for fossil fuels in transportation applications, but even if this technology had killer problems, we could still phase out fossil fuels, by using direct nuclear propulsion for ships, battery-electric cars, and electric trains. That would leave only aviation, which is a small enough part of total fuel consumption that biofuels could suffice.


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