EVERYONE seems to have decided for no obvious reason that green issues are a vote winner in this general election. Even the tabloids are pushing the message: the Mirror with a fake news story headlined ‘Exhausted polar bears cling to life on thawing ice as they face extinction’ and the hashtag #MirrorClimateCrisis.
The Sun, meanwhile, put out the following bulletin on its SunPolitics Twitter feed: ‘Want to do your bit for the planet? Here’s the main parties’ green policies ahead of the election’.
I would say literally no one cares about this stuff, but that would be an exaggeration. In fact the Sun’s tweet got three retweets and three likes, at least one of which may have been from a real, concerned person rather than whoever it is that runs SunPolitics Twitter account trying to cover their embarrassment.
Do these people not realise that many, if not most, voters find green issues a bit of a turn-off? We know this from what happened earlier this year in Australia’s federal election when what was supposed to be a walk-over victory by the most aggressively green major party, Labor, turned into a surprise victory for the Coalition dominated by the Liberals (as Aussies will insist on calling their Conservative party).
Everyone imagined that Labor’s bold promise of a 45 per cent cut in ‘carbon’ emissions would swing it. Greenpeace called it ‘the climate election’; volunteers wore orange ‘I’m a climate voter’ t-shirts. So confident were the pundits that, as my Aussie friend Jo Nova reported, major betting agency Sportsbet paid out $1.3million two days early to punters who had backed Labor. Someone cleaned up with a $128,000 win for a party that lost.
Even in the exit polls – and this may be the most significant detail – people were still claiming to have voted Labor when in fact they had voted Liberal. In other words, although voters like to be thought of as eco-friendly in public, in private they’ll vote for jobs and prosperity and lower energy costs rather than hair-shirts, tofu and unaffordable aircon.
Obviously the UK is not the same as Australia, which is further down the road of green lunacy than we are, in South Australia especially where there have been blackouts and brownouts and where electricity is now the most expensive in the world. But that and the convict heritage apart, I don’t think we’re SO different. And I find it surprising that the similarities haven’t occurred to at least one of the parties’ campaign advisers, Isaac Levido.
No, me neither. I got his name by Googling the question ‘Who is in charge of this dog’s breakfast of a tediumfest that is the Conservatives’ election campaign?’ Levido works at Textor Crosby (as in Lynton Crosby) and has previously masterminded various Australian Liberal party campaigns. So you’d think he’d know about the green turn-off effect, wouldn’t you?
In fact he must know, which leads me to one of several worrying conclusions. a) That private polling has shown that UK voters really do care about green issues. b) That Boris – possibly thanks to the influence of his bird: ‘no nookie tonight, Bozza, unless you promise me you’ve banned shale gas for ever’ – has so embraced his inner Greta that he won’t be talked out of ‘cutting the green crap’, or c) that the Conservatives have decided they really don’t need to give a stuff about their right-wing base because they’ve already mostly come on board thanks to the CCHQ’s successful ‘Vote Brexit Party, Get Corbyn’ black propaganda campaign and that therefore the only people that matter now are squishy swing voters who might otherwise have gone Green or maybe Lib Dem.
I’m guessing c) because it’s the most cynical option and also because I’m assuming that an operation like Textor Crosby must know what it’s doing. But whatever the reason, for us actual conservatives who believe in actual conservatism, it’s pretty bloody depressing, isn’t it?
Even if vague campaign aspirations aren’t the same as actual manifesto promises, it does indicate Britain’s general direction of travel once Boris has won his working majority (as I believe he will): further and further down the green plughole.
Obviously I could rant about this arrant stupidity for many column inches. But two brief observations will suffice. First, what is the point of extricating Britain from the European Union if you’re going to nail your colours to the mast of an ideology so oppressively anti-market, anti-freedom, anti-science, anti-human that frankly you’ll still be moving in regulatory lockstep with the commissars of Brussels? Second, why boast of your intention to forge an independent, prosperous future as an economic powerhouse outside the EU when you’ve nixed possibly the single quickest route to energy independence, lower business costs and lower consumer prices – fracking for the shale gas in which Britain abounds, with reserves even deeper than the ones which have worked such wonders for the US?
Truly, I despair.