Posts Tagged ‘Climate Change’

A 19th Century Proto-Feminist SF Novel

December 30, 2022

Brian Aldiss argues in his history of Science Fiction, The Trillion Year Spree, that Mary Shelley is the founder of modern SF, because she based Frankenstein on real science as it was then known in the early 19th century. Nevertheless, there were other women writing works of Science Fiction both before and after Shelley. One 18th century story has four men visiting the Moon, which is a female society ruled by a queen. The queen of the Moon gets fed up with the four and sends them back to Earth, because she’s repulsed by their drinking, swearing and smell. Later in the 19th century there was the feminist utopia of Gilman’s Herland, which imagined a women-only society in the Amazon which enjoyed high technology such as electric cars. One of the early SF stories mentioned in Mike Ashley’s Yesterday’s Tomorrows is The Mummy, published anonymously in 1827 but written by Jane Webb, who was then 19. The book intrigued the horticulturalist John Loudon that he sought out its author, marrying her three years later in 1830.

The book is set in 2126, and forecasts such inventions as weather control, steam-driven robot lawyers and surgeons, and a postal service that sends letters via steam cannon. Many of these new inventions are by the queen, who, along with the ladies at her court, wears trousers. This sounds like the kind of roughly Victorian era SF that would provide much inspiration and material for a steam punk novel. Over in America a steam man featured in one of the magazine stories published slightly later, The Steam Man of the Prairie, while Harry Harrison includes a steam driven robot in one of his Stainless Steel Rat tales. I like the idea of steam-driven robot. It appeals to me as both an artistic and technological project, but as the world cuts down on fossil fuels to combat climate change, I very much doubt if one will ever be built.

Many of the SF stories discussed in Ashley’s book seem fun and thought-provoking, even if they are dated to a greater or lesser extent. It would be great to know if some of them are archived on the internet somewhere so they can still be read and enjoyed without scouring the country for original, published editions sold at exorbitant prices.

Simon Webb’s Speech to the Traditional Britain Group: A Critique

December 29, 2022

One of the great commenters on this blog asked me the other day if I’d watched Simon Webb’s speech to the Traditional Britain Group, which has been posted up on YouTube. Webb is the man behind History Debunked, in which he criticises, refutes and comments on various historical myths and distortions. Most of these are against Black history, as well as racial politics. Occasionally he also presents his opinions on gay and gender issues. Like other YouTubers and internet commenters, you need to use your own discretion when watching his material. Sometimes, when he cites his sources, he’s right. At other times he’s more probably wrong. As much of his material is against mass immigration, particularly Black and Asian, and he believes that there is a racial hierarchy when it comes to intelligence, there’s some discussion of the man’s political orientation. He’s definitely right-wing, reading the Torygraph and attacking Labour as ‘high spending’. But it’s a question of how right-wing. Some people have suggested he’s English Democrat or supports a similar extreme right fringe party.

The other day he gave a speech at the Traditional Britain Group, which is a particularly nasty set of rightists within the Conservative party. There was a scandal a few years ago, you’ll recall, when Jacob Rees-Mogg turned up at one of their dinners. Mogg claimed he didn’t know how far right they were, but was shown to be somewhat economical with the actualite when someone showed that he’d actually been warned against associating with them. They are fervently against non-White immigration and some of them have a dubious interest in the Nazis and the Third Reich. I’ve also been told that their members include real Nazis and eugenicists, which is all too credible. They also want to privatise the NHS. I found this out after finding myself looking at their message board a few years ago. They were talking about how they needed to privatise the health service, but it would have to be done gradually and covertly because at the moment the masses were too much in favour of it. Which has been Tory policy for decades.

Webb’s speech is about half and hour long, and takes in slavery, White English identity and how Blacks have taken ownership of the subject so that it’s now part of theirs, White guilt over it and the industrial revolution and how White Brits are being made to feel ashamed of imperialism. He also blamed Tony Blair for mass immigration and claimed that it was due to this that the health service was collapsing.

The British Empire

He started off by saying that when he was young, everyone believed that the British Empire was a good thing and that we had brought civilisation to Africa and other parts of the world. I don’t doubt this. He’s older than me, and so I can believe that the received view of the Empire in his time was largely positive. Even the Labour party broadly supported imperialism. Its official stance was that Britain held these countries in trust until they were mature enough for self-government. This has changed, and there is a general feeling, certainly on the left, that it’s something we should be ashamed of. But this has come from historians and activists discussing and revealing the negative aspects of colonialism, such as the genocide and displacement of indigenous peoples, enslavement, forced labour and massacres. The end of empires tend to be particularly bloody, as shown in the various nationalist wars that ended the Ottoman Empire in the Balkans and the French possession of Algeria. Britain fought similar bloody wars and committed atrocities to defend its empire, as shown in the massive overreaction in Kenya to the Mao Mao rebellion. Jeremy Black, in his history of the British Empire, also argues that support for the empire fell away from the 1970s onwards as British youth became far more interested in America. I think the automatic condemnation of British imperialism is wrong and one-sided. It’s also somewhat hypocritical, as the same people condemning the British Empire don’t condemn other brutal imperial regimes like the Ottomans. It’s also being used by various post-colonial regimes to shift attention and blame for their own failings. But all this doesn’t change the fact that some horrific things were done during the Empire, which politicians and historians have to deal with. Hence the shame, although in my view there should be a space for a middle position which condemns the atrocities and celebrates the positive.

Britain and Slavery

He then talks about how slavery is now identified solely with Black transatlantic servitude. But he argues that the White English can also claim slavery as part of their identity. He talks of the first mention of the English in Bede’s Ecclesiastical History of the English People, when pope Gregory the Great saw some English children for sale in the slave market in Rome. Asking who such beautiful children were, he was told they were Angles. At which Gregory punned, ‘Non Anglii, sed angeli’ – ‘Not Angles but angels’. At the time of the Domesday Book 10 per cent of the English population were slaves. And the mob that tore down Colston’s statue in Bristol were unaware that the city had been exported English slaves over a millennium before. These were shipped to the Viking colonies in Ireland – Dublin, Wexford and other towns – from whence they were then trafficked internationally. Slavery existed long before Black transatlantic slavery. The first record we have of it is from 4000 years ago in the form of document from the Middle East recording the sale of slaves and pieces of land. While they weren’t aware of transatlantic slavery at school, they knew slavery existed through studying the Bible. The story of Joseph and his brothers, and the Israelites in Egypt. But slavery has now become identified exclusively with Black slavery and is part of the Black identity. It’s because we’re supposed to feel guilty about slavery and feel sorry for Blacks that Black people over overrepresented in adverts, on television dramas and even historical epics, such as the show about the Tudors where half the actors were Black.

Webb is right about slavery existing from ancient times. There are indeed documents from the ancient near eastern city of Mari in Mesopotamia recording the sale of slaves along with land and other property, as I’ve blogged about here. One of the problems the abolitionists faced was that slavery existed right across the world, and so their opponents argued that it was natural institution. They therefore also claimed that it was consequently unfair and disastrous for the government to abolish it in the British empire. He’s right about Pope Gregory and the English slaves, although the word ‘Angli’ refers to the Angles, one of the Germanic tribes that settled and colonised England with the Saxons and Jutes after the fall of the Roman Empire. Angles in Anglo-Saxon were Englas, hence Engla-land – England, land of the Angles, and Englisc, English. Bristol did indeed export English slave to Ireland. Archbishop Wulfstan preached against it in the 11th century. We were still doing so in 1140, when visiting clergy from France were warned against going for dinner aboard the Irish ships in the harbour. These would lure people aboard with such promises, then slip anchor and take them to Ireland. The Irish Vikings also imported Black slaves. One chronicle reports the appearance of a consignment of blamenn, blue or black men in Old Norse, in Dublin. David Olasuga has also claimed that they imported 200 Blacks into Cumbria. Bristol’s export of White English slaves is mentioned in a display about it in the city’s M Shed Museum, which also contains the statue of Edward Colston. I do agree with Webb that there is a problem with popular attitudes towards slavery. Its presentation is one-sided, so that I don’t think many people are aware of it and its horrors outside the British Empire, nor how White Europeans were also enslaved by the Muslim Barbary pirates. I very strongly believe that this needs to be corrected.

Black Overrepresentation on TV

I don’t think it’s guilt over slavery alone that’s responsible for the large number of Black actors being cast on television, particularly the adverts. I think this is probably also due to commercial marketing, the need to appeal to international audiences and attempts to integrate Blacks by providing images of multiracial Britain. Many adverts are made for an international audience, and I think the use of Blacks has become a sort of visual shorthand for showing that the company commissioning the advert is a nice, anti-racist organisation, keen to sell to people of different colours across the world without prejudice. At home, it’s part of the promotion of diversity. Blacks are, or are perceived, as acutely alienated and persecuted, and so in order to combat racism the media has been keen to include them and present positive images of Black life and achievement. There are organisations dedicated to this task, such as the Creative Diversity Network, as well as systems that grade companies according to how they invest in multicultural enterprises, such as television and programmes with suitably racially diverse casts. Webb has himself talked about this. He’s also stated that Blacks are disproportionately represented on television, constituting only 6 per cent of the population but a very large proportion of actors in TV programmes and adverts. This might simply be because other, larger ethnic groups, such as Asians, aren’t so concerned with entering the entertainment industry and so aren’t represent to the same extent. Hence, Blacks sort of stand in for people of colour as a whole. As for adverts, I’ve also wondered if some of this might be purely commercial – a concern to sale to an emergent, affluent, Black market, perhaps. It also struck me that it might also be a make work programme. As I understand it, there are too many drama graduates for too few roles. This is particularly going to hit Blacks and other ethnic minorities because Britain at the moment is still a White majority country. There have consequently been demands for colour blind casting, as in Armando Iannucci’s recent film version of Oliver Twist. A year or so ago one Black actor announced that there should be more roles for Blacks or else they would go to America. As for the casting of a Black woman as Anne Boleyn, this seems to follow the theatre, where colour blind casting has existed for years. I think it also follows the tacit demand to create an image of the British past that conforms to modern multicultural society rather than how it really was. And some of it, I think, just comes from the feeling that as modern Blacks are as British as their White compatriots, so they should not be excluded from appearing as historical characters who were White. I think these considerations are just as likely, or more likely, to be the causes of the disproportionate number of Blacks appearing on camera than simply pity for them as the victims of slavery.

Blair Not Responsible for Mass Immigration

Now we come to his assertion that Blair was responsible for mass immigration. When he made this declaration, there were shouts, including one of ‘traitor’. I don’t believe that Blair was responsible for it, at least, not in the sense he means. The belief that he was, which is now widespread on the anti-immigrant right, comes from a single civil servant. This official claimed that Blair did so in order to change the ethnic composition of Britain and undermine the Tories. But did he really? This comes from a single individual, and without further corroboration, you can’t be sure. In fact Blair seems to have tried to cut down on immigration, particularly that of non-Whites. In order to dissuade people from coming here, he stopped immigrants from being able to apply for welfare benefits. The food banks now catering to native Brits were originally set up to feed those immigrants, who were no longer eligible for state aid. I also recall David Blunkett stating that they were going to cut down on immigration. The Guardian also accused Blair of racism over immigration. He had cut down on non-White immigration from outside Europe, while allowing White immigration from the EU and its new members in eastern Europe. The right had also been concerned about rising Black and Asian immigration for decades, and in the 1980s Tory papers like the Depress were publishing articles about unassimilable ethnic minorities. This started before Blair, and I don’t think he was deliberately responsible for it.

But I believe he was responsible for it in the sense that many of the migrants come from the countries Blair, Bush, Obama and Sarco destroyed or helped to destroy in the Middle East, such as Libya, Iraq and Syria. Blair had made some kind of deal with Colonel Gaddafy to keep migrants from further south in Libya, rather than crossing the Mediterranean to Europe. This was destroyed when Gaddafy’s regime was overthrown by Islamists. The result has been the enslavement of Black African migrants, and renewed waves of refugees from North Africa fleeing the country’s collapse.

He also stated that the industrial revolution, which was something else that was traditionally a source of pride, is now considered a cause for shame instead. Britain had been its birthplace and given its innovations to the rest of the world. However, we are now expected to be ashamed of it through its connection to slavery. The cotton woven in the Lancashire mills came from the American slave south, while sugar came from the slave colonies of the Caribbean. We’re also supposed to be ashamed of it because it’s the cause of climate change, for which we should pay reparations.

The Industrial Revolution and Climate Change

Okay, I’ve come across the claim that the industrial revolution was financed by profits from the slave trade and that it was based on the processing of slave produced goods. However, this is slightly different from condemning the industrial revolution as a whole. You can lament the fact that slavery was a part of this industrialisation, while celebrating the immense social, technological and industrial progress itself. After all, Marx states in the Communist Manifesto that it has rescued western society from rural idiocy. The demand that Britain should feel ashamed about the industrial revolution because of climate change comes from Greta Thunberg. It is, in my view, monumentally stupid and actually shows an ignorance of history. It’s based on an idealisation of pre-technological societies and an idealisation of rural communities. It’s a product of European romanticism, mixed with contemporary fears for the future of the planet. But the agrarian past was no rural idyll. People in the agricultural societies before the urbanisation of the 19th century had very utilitarian attitudes to the environment. It was a source of resources that could be used and exploited. The nostalgia for an idealised rural past came with the new generation of urban dwellers, who missed what they and their parents had enjoyed in the countryside. And rural life could be extremely hard. If you read economic histories of the Middle Ages and early modern period, famine is an ever present threat. It still was in the 19th century. The Irish potato famine is the probably the best known example in Ireland and Britain, but there were other instances of poverty, destitution and starvation across the UK and Europe. Industrialisation has allowed a far greater concentration of people to live than would have been possible under subsistence agriculture. Yes, I’m aware that overpopulation is a problem, that industrial pollution is harming the environment and contributing to the alarming declining in animal and plant species. But technological and science hopefully offer solutions to these problems as well. And I really don’t want to go back to a subsistence economy in which communities can be devastated by crop failure.

The call for climate reparations, I think, comes from Ed Miliband, and in my view it shows how out of touch and naive he is. I have no problem the Developed World giving aid to some of those countries threatened by climate change, such as the Pacific islands which are threatened with flooding due to the rise in sea levels. But some countries, I believe, are perfectly capable of doing so without western help. One of these is China, which also contributes massively to carbon emissions and which I believe has also called for the payment of climate reparations. China is an emerging economic superpower, and I see no reason why the west should pay for something that it’s doing and has the ability to tackle. I am also very sceptical whether such monies would be used for the purposes they’re donated. Corruption is a massive problem in the Developing World, and various nations have run scams to part First World donors and aid agencies from their money. When I was at the Empire and Commonwealth Museum one of these was a scheme for a hydroelectric dam in Pakistan. The Pakistani government was calling for western aid to finance the project. Britain refused, sensing a scam, for which we were criticised. Other countries happily gave millions, but the dam was never built. All a fraud. I suspect if climate reparations were paid, something similar would also happen with the aid money disappearing into kleptocrats’ pockets. There’s also the problem of where the tax burden for the payment of these reparations would fall. It probably wouldn’t be the rich, who have enjoyed generous tax cuts, but the British working class through indirect taxes. In short, it seems to me to be a colossally naive idea.

But these ideas don’t seem to be widespread. When he announced them, there were shouts from the audience to which Webb responded that it was coming, and they should wait a few years. Perhaps it will, but I’ve seen no enthusiasm or even much mention of them so far. They were mentioned during the COP 27 meeting, and that’s it. Thunberg’s still around, but after all these years I think she’s somewhat passe. At the moment I don’t think these ideas are issues.

Mass Immigration Not the Cause of NHS Crisis

Now let’s examine his statement that it’s due to immigration that the NHS is in the state it’s in. This is, quite simply, wrong. He correctly states that while Britain’s population has grown – London’s has nearly doubled and Leicester’s grown by 30 per cent – there has been no similar provision of medical services. No new hospitals have been built. As a result, where once you could simply walk into your doctor’s and expect to be seen, now you have to book an appointment. And when it comes to hospitals, it’s all the fault of immigrants. He talks about a specific hospital in London, and how the last time he was in that area, he was the only White Brit in the queue. This was because immigrants don’t have GPs, and so go to the hospital for every problem. We also have the problem of sick and disabled people from the developing world coming to the country for the better services we offer. A woman from the Sudan with a special needs child will therefore come here so that her child can have the treatment it wouldn’t get in the Sudan.

I dare say some of this analysis is correct. Britain’s population has grown largely due to immigration. One statistic released by a right-wing group said that immigration was responsible for 80 per cent of population growth. It’s probably correct, as Chambers Cyclopedia stated in its 1987 edition that British birthrates were falling and that it was immigration that was behind the rise in the UK population. I don’t know London at all, and I dare say that many of the immigrants there may well not have had doctors. I can also quite believe that some immigrants do come here for our medical care. There was a case a few weeks ago of a Nigerian woman, who got on a flight to London specifically so that she could have her children in a British hospital. I think this was a case of simple health tourism, which has gone on for years, rather than immigration.

But this overlooks the fact that the problems of the NHS has been down to successive Thatcherite regimes cutting state medical care in Britain all under the pretext of making savings and not raising taxes. Thatcher closed hospital wards. So did Tony Blair, when he wasn’t launching his PFI initiative. This was supposed to build more hospitals, but led to older hospitals being closed and any new hospitals built were smaller, fewer and more expensive. Cameron started off campaigning against hospital closures, and then, once he got his backside in No. 10, carried on with exactly the same policy. Boris Johnson claimed that he was going to build forty hospitals, which was, like nearly everything else the obese buffoon uttered, a flat lie. And Tweezer, Truss and Sunak are doing the same. Doctors surgeries have also suffered. Many of them have been sold off to private chains, which have maximised profits by closing down those surgeries that aren’t profitable. The result is that people have been and are being left without doctors. If you want an explanation why the NHS is in the state it is, blame Thatcher and her heirs, not immigrants.

Conclusion

While Webb has a point about the social and political manipulation of historical issues like the slave trade and the British Empire, these aren’t the reasons for the greater appearance of Black actors and presenters on television. Blair wasn’t responsible for mass immigration, and it’s underfunding and privatisation, not immigration, that’s responsible for the deplorable state of the health service. But he’s speaking to the wrong people there anyway, as the TBG would like to privatise it.

I am not saying it is wrong to discuss these issues, but it is wrong to support a bunch of Nazis like the TBG, who will exploit them to recreate all the social inequality, poverty and deprivation of pre-modern Britain.

Twitter Campaign Against the Opening of a Deep Coal Mine in Cumbria

November 17, 2022

I got this email from the countryside charity CPRE urging people to tweet at the PM to stop the opening of a deep coal mine in Cumbria, which will be highly polluting and damaging to the climate. I’m not on Twitter, but if you feel strongly about this, please feel free to do so yourself.

‘Hi David,

Thanks for being part of the campaign that successfully stopped the return of fracking to the UK. Because of you, we’ve shown that when we come together, change can happen.  

But now we need to come together again. 

This year, the decision on whether to approve a deep coal mine in Cumbria has been delayed three times – the last being just a few weeks ago as world leaders headed to Egypt for COP27. 

The Cumbria coal mine would create 9 million tonnes of CO2 every year – more than all of the currently open UK coal mines combined. This is the last thing we need at a time when experts are warning we have precious time left to prevent catastrophic climate breakdown, the greatest threat facing the countryside today. 

The new deadline of 8 December could well be an intentional delay in order to push the announcement until after COP. But whether deliberate or not – we won’t let the government take decisions this big out of the international spotlight.  

We want the Prime Minister to know that we’re watching his next move very closely. And we won’t forgive him if his government approves the country’s first deep coal mine in over 30 years. 

Will you tell Rishi Sunak not to COP out on coal? 

Tweet the Prime Minister

Not on Twitter? Forward this email to a friend!

While the politicians deciding on the Cumbria coal mine have changed, the facts haven’t.  

In June, the Chair of the Climate Change Committee said the approval of a new coal mine in West Cumbria in light of the government’s net zero commitments would be ‘absolutely indefensible’. 

It would provide, at best, a small number of jobs in an industry set to be made redundant from climate change legislation in the next decade. Meanwhile, the Local Government Association has calculated there could be 6000 green jobs in Cumbria by 2030, with the right investment [1]. 

We know this mine needs to be refused, and we know that the new PM does listen to public pressure – he wouldn’t have even been at COP without it. So, it’s all still to play for.

Can you tell Sunak to show true climate leadership and stand up for the countryside by refusing the Cumbria coal mine? 

Tweet the PM

Not on Twitter? Forward this email to a friend!

We’ve not got long left to influence the decision but, together, we have the best chance to swing it in our favour. 

Thanks for all you do, 

Mark

Mark Robinson
Campaigns Officer | CPRE The countryside charity

[1]Local green jobs – accelerating a sustainable economic recovery in Cumbria – Local Government Association 

Mad Brexiteer Wants Sharks in the English Channel

November 6, 2022

Left-wing vlogger Maximilien Robespierre has a feature on his YouTube channel, ‘Fool of the Week’, in which he puts up clips of mad right-wingers saying or doing absolutely stupid and senseless things. His recent one was about a truly bonkers bloke from Croydon, who seems to have a unique solution to the migrant crisis: sharks. I’m afraid I didn’t watch the video, so I don’t know how truly mad he was, although in fairness he was a caller to LBC.

It may be that at some point in the near future we do have sharks in the English Channel. As the oceans have warmed, marine life adapted to warmer climates has moved north. There was a bit of alarm a few months ago when a Great White shark was spotted off Cornwall, and I think other shark species have also been seen, such as Basking sharks. But you really, really wouldn’t want predatory sharks just off coastal waters or in the Channel. Quite apart from the sheer inhumanity of wanting migrants and asylum seekers deterred from coming here because they’d be eaten on the journey.

38 Degrees Open Letter to Get Rishi Sunak to Attend the COP27 Next Week

November 1, 2022

I got this email from internet democracy group 38 Degrees about their petition against Sunak’s ambivalence about attending next week’s summit on climate change. Sunak has apparently said he may not go, and so 38 Degrees have set up this campaign to persuade him.

This is outrageous: Rishi Sunak says he may not be attending the COP27 summit next week. [1]

David, we knew the new Prime Minister was not the strongest on climate change. But the decision to not attend a crucial event where world leaders agree on steps to tackle the climate crisis is shocking and concerning. Especially when a UN report last week showed that current actions by countries across the world have not gone far enough. [2]

Sunak has blamed “domestic challenges” for this decision, but the fact is that the climate affects us all. [3] Not attending such an important summit – even for one day – while also removing the Climate Minister from the Cabinet shows the climate crisis is not a top priority for this government. [4] Rishi Sunak may say the environment is important to him, but his actions say otherwise.

His decision has not gone down well – the media, world leaders and UK MPs have been criticising it and news today has pointed to signs that he may be wavering in his decision to not attend. [5] So let’s be the voice that finally persuades him to attend the summit. If we sign an open letter in our hundreds of thousands it could push the PM to attend the meeting and show us he cares about saving the planet.

So, David, will you add your name right now and demand the PM attend the COP27 summit? By clicking the button below your name will automatically be added to the open letter.

ADD MY NAME

I’M NOT TAKING PART BECAUSE…

To: Rishi Sunak, Prime Minister

We, the public, are calling on you to make tackling the climate crisis a top priority. You’ve claimed it is, but your actions this week – removing the Climate Minister from the Cabinet, and refusing to attend the COP27 summit – say otherwise.

We understand that domestic issues are important, but the climate crisis will affect us all. The fact that you won’t attend and be part of the global conversation is damaging and concerning for everyone. Especially given the latest reports from the UN that current actions by all countries across the world have not gone far enough to limit any rise in global temperature to 1.5C.

Show us you care about the climate crisis and the environment. Commit to attending the summit for at least one day, as your predecessor Liz Truss promised, and give Climate Minister Graham Stuart the right to attend Cabinet meetings.

Signed,

The British public

The PM’s absence at this global summit will be keenly felt. Since the UK were the hosts of the summit last year it means we are the current holder of the COP presidency until this year’s summit starts. By not bothering to attend, Rishi Sunak will be sending a message to the whole world that the UK is not committed to tackling the climate crisis. But taking action to save our planet is a team effort and we need to play our part.

That’s why we, the public, need to add our voices and let Rishi Sunak know that the climate crisis is one of our top priorities. And as Prime Minister he needs to commit to doing something about it. We and future generations deserve better.

Will you be the voice of reason and add your name to the open letter today? By clicking the button below your name will automatically be added to the open letter.

ADD MY NAME

Thanks for all you do,

Simma, Megan and the 38 Degrees team

NOTES:
[1] The Independent: Sunak prioritises ‘depressing domestic challenges’ over attending climate summit
[2] The Guardian: Climate crisis: UN finds ‘no credible pathway to 1.5C in place’
[3] See note 1
[4] See note 1
Daily Mail: Rishi Sunak pulls out of Cop-27 climate summit and downgrades the status of his climate minister – but No10 insists new PM remains committed to net zero target
[5] See note 4
The Guardian: Global anger at Sunak’s Cop27 snub that raises fears over UK’s climate crisis stance
BBC News: Rishi Sunak criticised for skipping COP27 climate summit
BBC News: Rishi Sunak could still attend COP27 climate summit

I’ve signed it, because despite Sunak’s stopping fracking, his possible refusal to attend the summit shows that the Tories still don’t care about the environmental crisis and are hostile to further steps to prevent climate change. His absence will harm Britain’s international standing in this struggle.

Email from 38 Degrees on the Government’s Consultation Paper on Green Energy

October 26, 2022

This came through yesterday. The internet democracy organisation is asking their supporters to fill out the government’s consultation paper on green energy, which has to be done by tomorrow. The plan has some good points, but in the eyes of the experts it doesn’t go far enough. If you click on the links, you go to the paper’s questions with 38 Degrees’ suggested answers. I’ve filled it out, and am posting it here so others may do so too if they wish.

‘Dear David,

The Government has launched an independent review into their Net Zero Strategy – the UK’s official plan to tackle the climate crisis – and they want our views. [1]

We already know these plans are not good or thorough enough. In fact it’s so weak that in July this year, the high court ruled the Government had to go back to the drawing board to properly explain how their strategy will achieve its targets. [2] They have been given until April 2023 to figure this out – a worrying fact when some of the targets need to be met by 2030!

This consultation is our chance to make the Government take the climate crisis more seriously. If enough of us share our views, we can make sure they set targets that are both realistic and ambitious. Something our country and planet desperately needs. But it’ll only work if enough of us get involved before the consultation closes on Thursday.

David, can you complete a short survey about the Net Zero Strategy – and help the Government to take the climate crisis seriously? It will only take a few minutes, and once you’ve filled it in we’ll submit it to the consultation along with the views of thousands of other 38 Degrees supporters:

SHARE MY VIEWS

So what is actually in The Net Zero Strategy? It has a ten point plan covering various aspects of British life:

  • By 2030, the Government wants to quadruple offshore wind capacity which will generate more power than all our homes use today. [3]
  • £385 million will be invested in the coming years to develop nuclear reactors to provide energy to UK households. [4]
  • New petrol and diesel vehicles will not be sold in the UK from 2030 onwards. [5]
  • And 600,000 heat pumps are to be installed into UK homes every year until 2028. [6]

This strategy may seem to push us in the right direction, but various organisations and the House of Lords have argued it does not go far enough, and focuses on the wrong areas. [7] For example. 600,000 heat pumps sounds great, but we’ll need millions of them to actually make a difference. [8] And crucially the strategy fails to mention where the funding for all of its goals will be coming from as well. [9]

So we need to push back and get them to increase their ambition! It certainly won’t be the first time 38 Degrees supporters have taken part in a consultation and pushed the Government to rethink their plans. Over 40,000 of us took part in the consultation for the privatisation of Channel 4 and managed to halt the plans to sell it off. [10] Now we need to do the same for our environment and planet – but it will only work if all of us get involved.

So, can you share your views on the Government’s Net Zero Plans via a quick survey now? The consultation closes on Thursday so we don’t have long!

SHARE MY VIEWS

Thanks for all that you do,

Simma, Megan, Angus and the 38 Degrees team

NOTES:
[1] Gov.uk: Review of Net Zero: call for evidence
The consultation on the Government’s site is very long and technical, so we’ve replicated it on the 38 Degrees site and only included the questions relevant to members of the public.
[2] The Guardian: Court orders UK government to explain how net zero policies will reach targets
Sky News: ‘Landmark ruling’ sees government’s net-zero strategy ruled ‘unlawful’
[3] “Point 1: Advancing offshore wind”
HM Government: The Ten Point Plan for a Green Industrial Revolution
[4] “Point 3: Delivering New and Advanced Nuclear Powe”
HM Government: The Ten Point Plan for a Green Industrial Revolution
[5] “Point 4: Accelerating the Shift to Zero Emission Vehicles”
HM Government: The Ten Point Plan for a Green Industrial Revolution
[6] “Point 7: Greener Buildings”
HM Government: The Ten Point Plan for a Green Industrial Revolution
[7] Financial Times (paywall): UK lacks ‘credible plan’ to drive net zero transition, Lords report warns
UK Parliament Committees: UK will miss net zero target without urgent action, warns Lords committee
[8] See note 7
[9] See note 2
[10] 38 Degrees: 250,000 people say: Keep Channel 4 public
Financial Times (paywall): UK government ‘re-examining’ Channel 4 privatisation plan

‘Led By Donkey’s’ Potted Biography of the Horror That Is Jacob Rees-Mogg

October 23, 2022

I found this brief biography, ‘Who Is Jacob Rees-Mogg’ on the Led by Donkeys channel on YouTube. It covers Mogg’s life and career from his birth to today and shows exactly why he shouldn’t be anywhere near government – the greed, snobbishness, mendacity, duplicity and sheer governmental incompetence. Here’s a summary of its contents.

Mogg was born in May 1969 in London, the son William Rees-Mogg, the editor of the Times. He was naturally educated at Eton. In 1982, while he was a twelve-year old schoolboy, he was the subject of a French documentary as he was a financial trader and supporter of Thatcher. In one interview for the programme he said, ‘I love money. I always have done.’ When asked if he wanted to get married, he replied ‘No’, as he didn’t want to get divorced and his wife to get his money. In 1997 he campaigned for the Tories in the traditional Labour seat of East Fife. The image accompanying this shows him stepping over a fence looking exactly like John Cleese as the Minister for Silly Walks, but without the bowler hat. The locals were bemused by the fact that he was accompanied by his nanny, who was there to iron his shirts. 1998 – according to a biographer, his maid and his nanny took turns holding a book over his head at a picnic at Glyndebourne to make sure he didn’t get sunburnt. That same year he campaigned in the Wrekin, where he also lost. In 2006 he made a statement comparing people who weren’t privately educated and who never went to Oxford and Cambridge to potted plants and implied that they were incapable of writing an articulate letter. The next year, 2007, he and two of his friends set up Somerset Investment Capital. This committed itself to business ethics, but then stated that environmental, social and governmental concerns would not form the basis of their ethical policy.

In 2010 he finally succeeded in getting his wretched backside elected to parliament in the Somerset Northeast constituency. Three years later in 2013, Mogg distinguished himself by denying that workers have a right to a paid holiday. Then he took the decision to attend the annual dinner of the far-right Traditional Britain Group, despite being briefed about them by anti-Fascist organisation and magazine, Searchlight. He only decided to disassociate himself from them when they issued a statement denouncing Doreen Lawrence, the mother of murdered Black teenager Stephen Lawrence, as a ‘monstrous disgrace’ and recommending that people like her should be asked to leave the country. He also described man-made global warming as ‘much debated’ – totally wrong, as the vast majority of scientists are convinced it exists. The next year, 2014, Mogg advises that humanity should adapt to rather than attempt to mitigate climate change. He also lies about a UN report, claiming that it states that if measures were adopted to combat climate changes today it would take hundreds or a thousand years to produce results. The report said no such thing. In March the same year it was revealed his investment company was making a cool £3million from mining and £2.4 million in oil and gas.

In 2015 he stated his opposition to gay marriage and followed this in 2016 with a statement backing Donald Trump, who was then running a very racist, sexist and bigoted campaign. A year after that, in 2017, he revealed that he had never changed a nappy despite having six children. He also lied again, this time claiming that Labour had deliberately not told people they could get help from food banks. He also said that he thought the idea of people giving to these charities was ‘uplifting’. This was much mocked at the time. It is uplifting that people are willing to give to them, but utterly despicable that they have to exist in the first place. He also still opposed marriage equality and abortion in all circumstances as well as the morning after pill. Thus, he suffered no little embarrassment when it was revealed that he had investments in a company producing a stomach pill widely used in illegal abortions in Indonesia. He also had shares in a company producing drugs for legal abortions in India. He sold these shares, but retained those in tobacco, oil and gas companies. He also met Trump’s aide, Steve Bannon, a journalist for the far-right news outlet Breitbart, discussing how the right could win both in American and Britain. This segment has footage of the torchlight fascists marching in the ‘Unite the Right’ rally in Charlottesville. In 2018 it was revealed that Somerset Capital had also invested in Sberbank, a Russian bank that had been sanctioned by the EU since 2014 because of the Russian occupation of Crimea. It was also revealed a year later in 2019 that he’d made £7 million in profit from the Brexit vote. But backing Brexit didn’t stop him establishing two funds in Dublin to take advantage of the fact that it was still in the EU while London was not. Somerset Capital was paying him £15,000 per month and he owned 15 per cent of the shares. His firm was managed by subsidiaries operating perfectly legally in the tax havens of the Cayman Islands and Singapore.

Going back to the far-right, in 2019 he retweeted a comment by the leader of Germany’s Alternative Fuer Deutschland. He was also interviewed by Trump-supporter James Delingpole for Breitbart. The ousting of Tweezer by Johnson that year was also due in no small part to his machinations and that of his European Research Group. He also chose to show precisely what he thought about a debate on Brexit by lying down and appearing to go to sleep on the hallowed green benches of parliament. He also implied in a radio interview that the victims of the Grenfell fire died because they were too stupid to leave the building. He then mysterious vanished from the campaign trail, suggesting that his aides had advised him to lie low for a while. When a voter did try to ask him about his comment, he fled.

This year Truss made him Minister for Brexit Opportunities, despite profiting from investments in a Russian gas company, whose chair was one of Putin’s chums. He did, however, promise to divest himself of these investment after the invasion of Ukraine. Truss then appointed him Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy. He backed the disastrous minibudget to the hilt, which has resulted in catastrophic mortgage hikes and the reimposition of austerity. Rather than accept responsibility, he blamed the mess on the Bank of England. The video ends with a young female journalist at the Financial Times describing this as ‘bollocks’.

This is who is now in government. And he’s only just down the road from me in Bath and Northeast Somerset. Uuurgh!

And after watching that video, here’s something that might cheer you up. Mogg’s frank statement that he loved money made me think of the Flying Lizard’s cover of the Beatle’s class, ‘Money’. Here it is, also from the TopPop channel on YouTube.

Email from 38 Degrees Urging People to Contact MPs and Vote Against Fracking Tomorrow

October 18, 2022

I had this email come through earlier this evening, urging me to contact my MP to ask her to attend tomorrow’s opposition day debate and vote against Truss’ proposal to bring back fracking.

David, we’ve got a chance to make sure MPs take a stand against fracking. How? There’s a vote set to take place about the Government’s ridiculous fracking plans on Wednesday in Parliament. [1]

We know the public are against it – it’s why you and 80,000 others signed the petition demanding the Government rethink their plans. And we also know multiple politicians have been speaking out against fracking, including Conservative MPs. [2] Now we need them to back their words up with action, and vote against fracking this week.

But they’ll only do that if they hear from us, their constituents, calling on them to show up tomorrow – and vote against fracking.

So, David, will you ask Karin Smyth to go along tomorrow and vote to stop fracking in its tracks?

EMAIL MY MP

Don’t worry if you’ve never emailed your MP before – here are a few suggestions on what you could say:

  • Make sure you ask them to go along to tomorrow’s opposition day debate on fracking.
  • Mention how harmful fracking is to the local community and environment – it can cause earthquakes, and increase air pollution and road traffic. [3]
  • Remind them that fracking was banned for good reasons in 2019, and science shows the process has not become safer yet. [4]
  • Tell your MP that the real solutions to the energy crisis are more renewable energy and home insulation. In contrast, fracking emits greenhouse gases that contribute to climate breakdown. [5]

So, will you email your MP now asking them to attend the vote tomorrow and stop fracking in England once and for all?

EMAIL MY MP

Thanks for all you do,

Simma, Megan, Matt, Tom and the 38 Degrees team

NOTES:
[1] The Telegraph: Tory rebels vow to bury fracking as they urge Liz Truss to make policy U-turn
[2] 38 Degrees: Sign the petition: the government must rethink its fracking plans
The Guardian: Tory-led council votes to demand Truss stick to no fracking pledge
[3] BBC News: What is fracking and why is it controversial?
Daily Mail: What is fracking, why is it controversial and will it REALLY solve the energy crisis? MailOnline answers your key questions about the practice after the UK government lifts the ban
[4] The Guardian: Why fracking in UK will not fix fuel bills and is economically high risk
[5] The Guardian: Fracking causing rise in methane emissions, study finds

I’ve had no problem doing this, not least because one of the proposed areas for fracking was part of Keynsham, a small town just southeast of Bristol near Bath. If you click on the link, you get to a general page that asks you for your address so you can contact your local MP, whoever he or she may be, and send them your message asking them to attend the debate. If you also want to halt the return of fracking, please feel free to use the link above to contact your local politico.

Message from John McDonnell about Left Labour Online Event ‘Tackling Truss’

September 5, 2022

I got this notification just this evening from Corbyn’s right-hand man about an online event Wednesday evening about resisting the newly anointed Tory leader, Liz Truss.

Tackling Truss – A message from John McDonnell

GET INVOLVED: Register here // Share me on FB here // Retweet me here

Hello David

The scale of the cost-of-living crisis deepened over the summer whilst Boris Johnson went missing. And now we have a new PM in Liz Truss who is proposing a massive offensive on our rights rather than the action people urgently need to protect jobs and livelihoods. At the same time, she will continue an economic policy aimed only at guarding corporate super-profits and further push a reactionary divide-and-rule social agenda.

But Truss though will also face growing resistance – from the wave of militancy and action sweeping through our trade union movement, to groups like Don’t Pay and Enough is Enough, to the ever-growing climate justice direct actions, to BLM, #KillTheBill and all those taking to the streets to defend our rights.

This situation could quickly become not just an economic crisis, but an unprecedented social and political crisis, meaning that it’s vital we discuss now what challenges Truss’ agenda poses for our movement and what it represents, but also what opportunities for resistance and winning the alternative may open up in the weeks ahead.

Please therefore join us on Wednesday September 7 at 7pm for a vital online discussion on ‘What Next?’ and let’s go forward together with our trade union and social movements, building the resistance, and ultimately changing the system too.

Yours in solidarity,
John McDonnell MP (via Arise.)

PS: Register now here and spread the word here.’

I’ve registered because Labour, and the broad left in general, need to unite and formulate proper tactics for resisting this latest inmate of free market ideology and the threat she poses for ordinary working people.

‘Correct, Not Political’ Claim Teachers Now Asked to Collect Information on Pupils’ Beliefs in Conspiracy Theories

August 29, 2022

Correct, Not Political are a right-wing group who organise counter-protests and put up videos on YouTube giving their own coverage of Pride marches, Drag Queen Story Hour, anti-racist and pro-immigrant demonstrations, Extinction Rebellion and so on. Just how right-wing they are is shown by a section on their YouTube homepage devoted to ‘socialists and commies’. Having said that, watching some of their videos they do seem to be polite. Many of their videos about Pride and Drag Queen Story hour simply consist of them talking to the demonstrators, asking why they believe as they do and simply putting their own arguments. Quite often this is done simply and conversationally. I realise that with any broadcast material, including stuff from the official news organisations, you have to be careful of selective editing but they do come across much better than some of the left-wing demonstrators. Some of them come across as very aggressive, simply screaming ‘Trans Rights Are Human Rights’ and ‘Off Our Streets, Fascist Scum’, as if those are adequate replies or rebuttals. Other left-wing protests they interview are polite and personally reasonable.

They posted this piece up on their channel the other day, claiming that teachers have now entered into a contract with the government to report on whether their pupils hold one or more from a list of conspiracy theories. They are also asked how they are tackling these beliefs. This also includes whether they have been referred as radicalised.

This is the list.

They comment: Parents beware, the state have incentivised teachers to enter a contract in which they get subsidies on teaching materials in order for them to take part in surveys to collect data on your children, this is getting very scary.

See: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCoFAZOEAhkrQVYVGuDeKIMA/community?lb=Ugkxg_YC8Wd9dAZJwdY7NODD525BjsJUW6Xr

I don’t know what’s going on here, as they have not said how they acquired this information, whether it was from a teacher or some other school or educational employee or official, nor how reliable this is. It could all have been cooked up as a form of disinformation designed to spread even more paranoia by someone. It’s possible that the list is correct, as the government is keen to prevent the radicalisation of young people through the Prevent programme, but it’s dubious whether this is part of it without further information.

They’re also wrong about one of the conspiracies. The Great Replacement, from what I understand, is the notion that the Jews are encouraging Black and Asian immigration to Europe to replace the White population. The idea that Muslims are going to replace us through immigration and outbreeding us is ‘Eurabia’.

I also wonder how many schoolchildren are actually interested in any of these stupid theories or have come across them on the web. It seems to me that a far greater problem is children seeing pornography or other age-inappropriate material, as well as the dangers of sexting and girls having the nude pics they sent to a boyfriend passed and put up for all to see.

Their commenters are naturally afraid of the state taking an interest and trying to control what pupils believe. I’ve got absolutely no problem with any teacher refuting any of these during lessons if they come up. But what is worrying is that some of their commenters seem to think some of them might be true. My guess, from some of the group’s content, this would be the theories about climate change and the ‘scamdemic’, in which the Covid crisis has been manufactured to take away our freedom.