Climate Change Conservatives

23 September 2010

I read with interest yesterday about Chris Huhne’s fight to save his Government Department that deals with Climate Change.

Climate change secretary Chris Huhne is fighting to defend his department’s funding and independence, fending off a suggestion that his civil servants should be moved to the Treasury to cut costs.

Huhne is having to resist the Treasury on numerous policy fronts. He has rejected the relocation idea, fearing his department’s civil servants would “go native” if they moved into offices in the Treasury.

Critics assert that this is the Tories true position on Climate Change – the ‘greenest Government ever’ that never ever was… consumptionist, trampling over the environment, uncaring.

It reminded me of something I recently heard about one of the earliest pioneers in the field. A scientist and politician who fought to get Climate Change issues recognised on the world stage who said:

  • But the need for more research should not be an excuse for delaying much needed action now. There is already a clear case for precautionary action at an international level.
  • We have become more and more aware of the growing imbalance between our species and other species, between population and resources, between humankind and the natural order of which we are part.
  • it’s sensible to improve energy efficiency and to develop alternative and sustainable sources of supply; it’s sensible to replant the forests which we consume; it’s sensible to re-examine industrial processes; it’s sensible to tackle the problem of waste

That politician? Margaret Thatcher.

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Ever looked at a politician and thought…

18 August 2010

…he really reminds me of someone?

A TV character perhaps?

A Children’s TV character?

Thomas the Tank Engine Character?

Well maybe after you look at nothingbutawordbag’s brilliant blog post you’ll see similarities, not just in words, but in the explanations too!

http://nothingbutawordbag.wordpress.com


If you want to BNP to be ‘shown up’, Question Time isn’t the right format to get the results you want to see

22 October 2009

There’s been a lot of discussion recently about the appearance tonight of the British National Party on BBC Question Time. When it was announced that the BBC intended to invite Nick Griffin, BNP leader and recently elected (by the British public) Member of the European Parliament, on to Question Time there were mixed responses. Some political parties thought it was the wrong thing to do because it would give them legitimacy as a political party. Other parties were refusing to put up pannelists – refused to appear on the same stage – but as some parties agreed to participate so they all did.

Now, Im not going to express a view on the legitimacy or not of the BNP, but I do have a concern about their appearance tonight. And that’s about the format of the programme on which they’re to appear.

Let’s just think about Question Time for a minute. Five pannelists, usually three politicians, one academic or similarly opinionated person, and one more populist person (a columnist perhaps), chaired by David Dimbleby. Members of the audience ask questions and the pannelists opine and respond one by one. Perhaps there’s some more pointed questioning from the chair trying to get a response to the question.

And this is the point i’m making. It’s not the kind of format where a party like the BNP will really get probed on their policies. There’s no Paxman (not that he succeeded in the past) or Frost really making them uncomfortable, getting to the bottom of what they really mean, and what they imply. It’s a question, an answer, some political responses and questioning from other pannelists (they have their own point to make, and Question Time is about the audience questions, not politicians asking each others views), and moving on to the next point.

On Twitter this morning there’s been some debate about the show tonight. I don’t disagree that primetime TV is the place to point out to the UK what the party actually thinks – but I do think that this format is not the best one, particularly not for those people who really think the party will be shown up on tgeir views. I’m also not a person that thinks gagging works. I’m not apathetic to watching or disengaged from democracy, whether I’ve made up my own mind about them or not. Surely it’s better to let people hear what they think – some may argue to give them enough rope to hang themselves with.

Taken an example about road congestion in our cities. The BNP answers – “road congestion in our cities is a terrible problem, something must be done about it”. What do the other party members do? Disagree vocally with the BNP point of view, or sit there and nod along, agreeing with Nick Griffin? What will this type of questioning and response do for those people who are already of a mindset that could be persuaded by the other arguments they make? A similar appearance by France’s far right political party in the 1980s saw their membership soar and could so well do, or already has, for the BNP.

Question Time is a format that is about swift answers, soundbites, not detailed probing and questioning on what the politicans really mean, what the real implications of their policies are. After my recent posts on undercurrents of hate and what these legitimise, is this really the platform people really think it is to try and show the politics of this party in a truer light? I don’t think it is. Now I may be wrong, and I hope that there is real opportunity for their policies and views to be probed in depth, but I’d just like to end with a thought from Ken Livingstone on Nick Griffin: :”He comes on, says his bit, but for the angry racist, it’s the trigger that turns into an attack.”


I Love Man

18 August 2009

So I’m on a train now, returning already from the Isle of Man. I was, after all, only there for a wedding on Saturday (which I must say was an amazing and stunning affair).

It’s a very beautiful Island. Part British seaside-town (Douglas, at least), part Celtic and mildly irish it is a fascinating combination of cultures.

It is a self-governing Crown dependency and the head of state is Queen Elizabeth II, who holds the title of Lord of Mann, but is not Monarch. It is neither part of the UK, nor the EU. But foreign relations and defence are the responsibility of the government of the United Kingdom. The Island is inhabited by about 80,000 people, and it’s approximately 32 miles (51 km) long and between 8 miles (13 km) and 15 miles (24 km) wide, and has an area of around 221 square miles (570 km2). A passport issued on the Isle of Man says “British Islands – Isle of Man” on the cover but the nationality status stated on the passport is “British Citizen”. Despite this, because the Island doesn’t have membership of the EU you do not have the same rights as non Mann British citizens. It’s complex huh!

Yet one of our taxi drivers spent 25 minutes ranting rabidly about those foreigners coming over and taking their jobs. Not me, mind you “those non-whites” he said, although quickly clarified “non Islanders, I mean” – like who? – “you know, those Asians, and the Eastern Bloc, those Bulgarians”. It was like having a taped version of the Daily Mail played on a loop for the journey down country roads where at any point he could have pulled over and stabbed the two gays in the back of his car (!) He even blamed “the British Government” for selling the Isle of Man down the swanny.

The Parliament of the United Kingdom has paramount power to legislate for the Isle of Man on all matters but it is a long-standing convention that it does not do so on domestic (‘insular’) matters without Tynwald’s [the Manx parliament] consent. Apparently, the Isle of Man has had several disputes with the European Court of Human Rights because it was late to change its laws concerning corporal punishment and sodomy. The Isle of Man was once known to be rather homophobic, and gay sex has only been legal since 1992. More recently the age of consent was equalised – in 2006.

Despite the fact that whenever I said the name of the Island I tripped over my own words accidentally saying I Love Man, I certainly wouldn’t have wanted to grow up as a young gay man on the island. Even on our short trip, the hotel “double (not twin) room please” scenario and looks and [rather blatant] stares made me an uncomfortable gay outsider. I’ve obviously been to worse places (Warsaw, pár example, or gay pride in Galway where a man outside the bar wielding a rather large kitchen knife forced us to lock ourselves in), but provincial attitudes aren’t really my scene.

It reminded me on some ways of my growing up in small-town midlands. My home town is about the same size. But I could escape easily. Half an hour on the train to Birmingham allowed me, growing up, to get out of the town which could at times feel choking. Small town middle England isn’t for me. But on the Isle of Man (OK the landmass is significant, but there are still only 80,000 people) it’s not as easy to escape. There are no 30 minute train rides: it’s a 3 or 5 hours ferry ride to England.

I’ll try to post some of the amazing pictures when I have a moment. If I have a moment. I’m off to Bristol for work then to Copenhagen and Stockholm for a holiday this week. Right now, though, I just want to get home and to bed.


Official Letter

17 June 2009

So June has been a busy time for me. The world of Strategic Planning (town planning) in London is swift moving, relatively, and I have been busy doing lots of talking, listening, finding-out and writing. I have spent a lot of time writing official letters. It’s a time-consuming and complicated business.

However, following my tweets today I happened to stumble across a link to this (slightly rude, beware) letter which is, apparently, real. If only my official letters could be be as exciting as this!

moscow

It reads (click image to open full size):

My Dear Reggie,

In these dark days man tends to look for little shafts of light from Heaven. My days are probably darker than yours, and I need, my God I do, all the light I can get. But I am a decent fellow, and I do not want to be mean about what little brightness is shed upon me from time to time. So I propose to share with you a tiny flash that has illuminated my sombre life, and tell you that God has given me a new Turkish colleague whose card tells me he is called Mustapha Kunt.

We all feel like that, Reggie, now and then, especially when Spring is upon upon us, but few of us would care to put it on our cards. It takes a Turk to do that.

Sir Archibald Clerk Kerr
H.M. Ambassador, Moscow


Bull! Lies!

13 May 2009

The last week hasn’t been a good one for British politicians. The expense scandal, whether claiming for bath plugs and feather dusters, second homes, moat clearing, swimming pools or porn, the Daily Telegraph has been ‘exposing’ the lies and bullsh*t of politicians claiming expenses within, or beyond, creating plenty of public anger.

Not a good week for politicians, especially when the European and local elections are coming up in June. Norman Tebbit even advised the public to protest by not voting for the big parties in the European elections.

Which is why I was interested to see the juxtaposition of a poster saying “make sure nothing stops you voting” with two posters for a mobile phone company in Camden Town station pronouncing simply BULL and LIES.

DSC00397

Of course, one of the biggest risks of the expenses story is disillusionment with politicians in general, politicians of all parties, and voter apathy caused by lies and bull. But voting is an essential way of exercising you democratic right – so maybe we shouldn’t let lies, bull, or anything else, stop us doing so on Thursday 4 June.


F*cking Politicians

18 February 2009

So, apparently, politicians swear, what a shocker. First it was Boris, now it’s Peter…

Boris, apparently, said: “You … try and give the impression that I f****** tipped off David Cameron. You are trying to make me look like a f****** fool… This is such f****** bulls***”

…meanwhile the New Labour politician who was some time ago considered the cosmopolitan cappuccino-sipping New Labourite spluttered over his coffee when he heard the top brass of Starbucks rubbish the UK economy, and spurted out “Why should I have this guy running down the country? Who the f*ck is he? How the hell are they [Starbucks] doing?”

I’m not sure I know of anyone to whom the fact that politicians swear would be a shocker and, hey, we all let our guard down once in a while. Then again, maybe they’re spending too much time getting told to eff off by those foul-mouthed “white van men” as they persuade them to downsize their vans.


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