Back in the days when people seemed to accept at face value David Cameron’s commitment to the environment, today’s revelations that billions of pounds worth of investment in wind farms is on hold would be big news.
Perhaps it will be, but Cameron is very successful at moving from one ‘top priority’ to another, so that by the time he is on the next one, and the next few after that, people have forgotten that his top priority used to be … er … the environment.
The longer he goes on enjoying being Prime Minister, and the opportunities that gives him for travel, meeting interesting people, having top priorities not just in Britain but around the world, the more it becomes apparent that his hug-a-huskie, build-a-wind-turbine-on-your roof commitment to the environment really was just a phase of the ‘detoxify the brand’ PR campaign. All a bit sad when you think of the consequences for the planet.
If he really was concerned, he would be standing up to the well-funded campaign to undermine the fact of man-made climate change, loosely modelled on the campaign that for decades persuaded policy makers that the health case against smoking cigarettes was unproven. The deaths caused by the current flat-earthers will dwarf those caused even by smoking, but hey ho, the Right wing believe in freedom, including the freedom to destroy the planet.
Now we live in a democracy, and the fact that 100 Tory MPs expressed opposition to the government’s stated position on wind farms has to be taken into account. But a Prime Minister who appears willing to face down virtually the enirety of the NHS in his pledge-breaking top down reorganisation can surely take on an argument with backbenchers worried that one of the dreaded wind farms might pop up in their back yard.
Having recently driven through France, where there are some enormous wind farms at fairly regular intervals on the main drive north to south, I am even more firmly of the view that they can add to rather than detract from some views. There are jobs attached to big energy projects too, not to be sniffed at. But the bigger, environmental argument is no longer being made, and the longer the government goes on failing to make it, the greater hold the flat-earthers will take of this particular debate, and the likelier investors are to take their business elsewhere.
It genuinely baffles me why denial of science should become a right-wing virility symbol. But it has happened, and Cameron needs to summon up the leadership to challenge it.