Last night I was rude to a Minister of the Crown. His name’s Greg Barker, he’s the Minister for Climate Change, and – or so he tried to allege in a flabby speech to the Conservative Future (formerly Young Conservatives) in the Commons last night – he’s actually a Conservative MP not a Liberal Democrat or a Green or a Communist one.
So I asked him what it was that first drew him to the Conservative party. Was it because he’d always nurtured a burning desire to drive up inflation? Or to increase fuel bills? Or to transfer money from the poor to the pockets of rich landowners like Earl Spencer and Sir Reginald Sheffield Bt? Or to destroy the British economy? Or to despoil the British countryside?
Whichever one it was, I suggested, he must be feeling so proud because thanks to the efforts of Greg Barker and “conservatives” like him, every single one of those objectives is now being quite spectacularly achieved.
You’ll gather I don’t think much of Greg Barker. I’m sure the feeling’s mutual. The difference is, I’m not part of an administration which plans to spend £18 billion of your money every year till 2050 “decarbonising” the British economy; I’m not the one who’s planning to cover the British countryside with 10,000 more wind turbines at a cost – again borne by the taxpayer – of £100 billion (plus another £40 billion to connect them to the grid), none of which will replace a single conventional power station; I’m not the one who is driving the British economy towards economic suicide by imposing on it a unilateral carbon reduction policy (the only country in the world to enact such extreme measures) which will affect not one jot the climate of the planet (our contribution to anthropogenic CO2 being about 1.7 per cent of the world total, diminishing each year as China’s industrial machine grows ever larger); I’m not the one who’s deaf to all argument about the absurdity of these measures. Whereas Greg Barker is.
To give you an idea of the intellectual calibre of the man who is helping decide our energy future (Greg is the man, incidentally, who pushed the Tories towards their “Vote Blue Go Green” stupidfest; he accompanied Dave on that silly huskies-and-melting-glaciers Greenland photoshoot) here are some of the points he made in his speech.
1. The Conservatives’ green policies belong to a fine tradition. After all, it was Margaret Thatcher back in the 80s who set the ball rolling on global climate change policy.
2. As an example of just how helpful and effective and Conservative-friendly green policies can be just look at booming California, which has the highest growth rate in the US.
The first point, though true, only tells half the story. It neglects to mention that Thatcher did so not because she had studied science at Oxford and therefore understood these things but because she had been nobbled by arch-Warmist Sir Crispin Tickell – and said things she subsequently bitterly regretted.
The second point is a bit like going on stage and saying Pol Pot was a cuddly, lovable fellow who never hurt a flea; or that Gordon Brown was a Titan among Prime Ministers; or that Polly Toynbee doesn’t have a lovely house in Tuscany. California has been RUINED by its environmental policies. Surely everyone knows that? Its coffers are empty. Unemployment is rising. And while its economy isn’t the worst-performing in the US, its growth rate is comfortably eclipsed by those of lower-tax states such as Alaska, Nevada, Wyoming,Texas, Florida, South Dakota, Louisiana and Arizona.
So why does a government minister feel able to stand on a platform and cite such blatant untruths to support his policies? Is it because doesn’t do any research? Is it because he is very poorly advised? Is it because he is exceptionally thick?
Well, no, I fear the real answer is even more depressing than any of the above. The reason that the Minister for Climate Change is able to stand on a platform and sell his climate narrative to Conservative Future without recourse to any meaningful, evidence-based data or coherent intellectual argument is this: reality is of no relevance to the Cameron government’s climate change policy. Our political class – of which Barker unfortunately is one – have made up their minds what they’re going to do and they’re not about to allow a few awkward facts to get in the way of their devastating plan to make the world a better place (even if it means destroying it in the process).
I need hardly say that Barker didn’t even attempt to answer any of the points I raised about the stupidity of the government’s drive for renewables, about the damage this will do to economic growth, about the Verso economics report showing that for every “Green Job” created in Britain by taxpayer spending another 3.7 jobs are lost in the real economy. That’s because he knew – as increasing numbers of us know – that there is no answer to them.
Sitting on the same panel was a Conservative MP of considerably higher intellect who ought to be Secretary of State for Climate Change but won’t because he fails to align ideologically with Cameron’s liberal consensus. John Redwood MP, it was clear from his informed remarks, understands perfectly well what the problem is.
He spoke of how our freedoms are in danger of being “mangled by too much law and regulation.” And he warned that Coalition’s unilateral carbon reduction policies represented a kind of “false greenery.” How could it possibly make sense, he argued, to close down our economy and congratulate ourselves on the CO2 reduction we’d achieved as a result if the net effect was simply to export our energy intensive industries so that other, less hair-shirt economies could enlarge their carbon footprints instead? Redwood – unlike Barker, apparently – actually understands business. He recently visited a factory whose energy bill is three times its wages bill: you can imagine how much that factory is going to welcome it when government enviro regulations push energy prices even further through the roof.
If it weren’t for the immense soundness of Conservative Future’s committee members (at least they seem to understand what conservative principles are even if Cameron’s nomenklatura don’t) I should have ended the evening almost suicidal with despair. As it is I just left it feeling very, very, VERY depressed. Barker’s dismal, lame, flannel-ridden speech, full of manipulative phrases like “we’re doing it for our children and grandchildren’s future” but entirely devoid of any understanding as to why it is that the Coalition’s environmental policies are so wrong and damaging in every way, rammed home with all the chilly unpleasantness of the “rectal snip” I once had to endure while testing for bilharzia at the London Tropical Diseases Hospital just how stupidly, ludicrously, almost comically out of touch our political class are.
Reality, facts, arguments, practicalities, evidence: to our political class these are nothing more than a tedious irrelevance. They’ve already modelled in their silly little heads how they would like the world’s imaginary future to be. Now all they want to do is act on it.
It was exactly this same kind of muddled thinking which brought Greece into the Eurozone. The consequences will be no less disastrous.