Why are so many Tory back-benchers so stupid?
Why are so many Conservative backbenchers so stupid?
My attention has recently been caught by the attitude of so many Tory backbenchers to two current issues. One is that of when to end the present covid 19 restrictions. The vast majority of experts in the field of pandemics are telling us that ending it too early will pose serious risks of yet another outbreak of the virus with its grave consequences for deaths, and an inevitable further lockdown with its catastrophic consequences for the economy. Many of them think that even the Government’s so- called road map (once you start using clichés like ‘road map’ you know, or more probably don’t, that you have retreated from creative thinking, though there are degrees of wallowing in what Dr Johnson called pisspot ignorance) they think the so called ‘road map’ to ending the restrictions is too optimistic. Yet many backbenchers are calling for a much quicker easing, stoutly resisted by Boris to his credit. What kind of an idiot disregards the advice of people who know far more about the issue than he, and regrettably even she, does over a matter so grave? You don’t say these heart surgeons don’t know what they are talking about. I’m going to have my bypass done by my next-door neighbour with a breadknife on the kitchen table. Behold the idiot for whom you voted.
More important in the long term is the matter of opening a coalmine in Cumbria. The argument of many Tory parliamentarians (I’m not sure about the non-Tory ones) is that we are going to need steel for Boris’s Green Revolution and only coke can produce steel. So far as it goes such an argument is in itself true, as partially applicable arguments justifying idiotically false misjudgements often are. What about the hell on earth that the climate scientists are assuring us we are preparing for our children if we don’t devote decisive and urgent attention to the climate emergency? Limited anxiety, it seems, on the Tory back benches. This is important because steel and cement manufacture account for over 7% of global emissions. There are alternatives to using coal as the basis of steel production but they are impractical. You could use wood. But by the time the trees – the Trees! the Trees! that so many climate semi-sceptics are pinning their hopes on – have come to maturity, the final decision about the Cumbrian coal mine will have long been taken. In any case, to make a significant difference so many trees would have to be planted it would inevitably use up land needed for food production. We need coalmines and coal can be made carbon neutral through carbon capture, pleasingly often using the very vacant underground spaces where coal has been mined in the past.
But carbon capture is hugely expensive (why the commitment to the UK’s pilot scheme for development of carbon capture in the Humber estuary has been so feeble). This is no argument, though, because the cost of increased global warming will be far greater. Pay now to avoid paying far more in the future. So far so good, but that still leaves the problem of how do we pay now when the national finances have already been devastated by the pandemic? Taxes on ordinary people will have to be raised anyway and there is a limit to how much they are willing or even able to pay. So that leaves the super-rich. We should certainly close tax havens which currently rob the economy of £8 billion a year (though small compared with the £37 bn the Government is said to have largely wasted on the failed test and trace system, no wonder there is no money left to pay more than 1% increase for the NHS – a point Boris seems to have over-looked). But this wouldn’t work either because despite their frequently expressed fervent patriotism (did not most of them vote for Brexit for goodness sake) most of them would simply stop coming to Britain and retreat into private-jet connected global nowhere space.
Is there an answer? I think there is. We need the investment of the rich and somehow we have to induce them to make it for carbon capture. As the climate emergency rapidly worsens (though now so close to the point when we will trigger unstoppable runaway global warming perhaps it doesn’t matter anyway, tough on the kids though) even China will be forced to ban raw coal. It will be far too late of course. But at least we should have a go at persuading them that invest now and there will be more money to be made in the utterly devastated globe of the future, for, after all, they will be able to live in comfortable carbon-rebuffing super-homes in caves in New Zealand, as some of them are already preparing to do.
Is this an utterly cynical view? I fervently hope it is. Even the super-rich are not always devoid of a concern for humanity and the fate of the earth. We should appeal to their better natures. We should stop both envying (thank you for the opportunity Lord Sugar) and condemning even the super-rich as greedy monsters. They are mostly not. They are just rich with all the opportunities to do good that money offers. Whatever happens we must find an alternative to mining raw coal in Cumbria. The UK (though there may not soon be a UK) can make almost no direct difference to the fate of the planet, for our contribution to global warming is only 1% (although of course really far higher for we export many of our emissions to China, another point Boris seems to have over-looked). But we can set an example. You can’t take an inspiring lead in the COP meeting at Glasgow next November if you have just opened a coal mine in Cumbria. Even the elastic attitude to logic and truth that politicians are so skilled in exploiting would not stretch to so Borisian a master-class without snapping. This is why stopping the manufacture of raw coal in Cumbria is so important.