Gordon Brown’s leadership on Climate Change


British politicians are in the habit of “leaking” what they regard as major speeches to the media, who then faithfully report what is leaked, behaving a bit like extensions of the politicians’s propaganda departments as “news”. The report is usually couched in terms of so and so “is expected to say” and there are often extensive quotes from the speech written but not yet spoken, save as to the private rehearsals.

I think that this habit was first started by “New Labour” as a means of getting double the coverage from a single speech. Now it seems to be a convention amongst major politicians and no part of the media reports these yet to be made speeches than that most expensive of Government propaganda departments, the BBC.

Generally I do not bother listening to or reading the speech, unless it is on climate change; once leaked the speech has done its job for me, and in any event I find politicians’ speeches uninspiring; after all Gordon brown is hardly Winston Churchill, or Abraham Lincoln.

Yesterday the BBC reported as news that the Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, would be making a speech to the British nation – a New Year message, and we “was expected to urge”, “will demand”, “will call in” and so forth.

The BBC’s report covered two aspects of Mr Brown’s speech – the recession and climate change. The former is a test of British character that the British people must pass, according to Gordon Brown; apparently we must rise to the challenge of the economic crisis and the qualities we need to meet them the British people have demonstrated in abundance before. So that we will eventually look back on the winter of 2008 as another great challenge that was thrown Britain’s way, and that Britain met, because we had the right values, the right policies, the right character to meet it.”

I suppose that Mr Brown genuinely believes this to be his Churchillian moment, when he will inspire the nation to work harder to pay the taxes that he will raise to bail out the banker’s foolish investments, and speculations, without which bail out our savings and pensions would have been totally lost, instead of merely slashed in half. It is really odd, coming from a politician who claimed to have abolished boom and bust, and having presided over the biggest boom in my life time now presides over the biggest bust in my lifetime. It seems that he will now claim the knowledge of how to avoid the previous mistakes in times of recessions, a bit like those senior bankers who having got us into a credit crunch claimed that only they had the skills to get us out of the credit crunch.

It is a bit like a child, having broken something, claiming that they are best suited to put it back together again.

On climate change he will tell us that we can fix it, and point to Mr Obama as a catalyst, and say that he looks forward to working with him. Mr Brown will speak the talk of climate change again, but I doubt that he will walk the path where climate change policies must quickly lead us; he has so far shown no propensity to ramp up investment in renewables, cut down radically on fossil fuel, reduce fossil fuel energy use and heavily invest in carbon sequestration or make the polluters really pay for their pollution.

In fact, when the oil prices first rose dramatically he called for more oil extraction, for cheaper oil, and thinks that increasing consumption, which will lead to more emissions, is the best way to get us out of recession.

Mr Brown’s previous main claim to action on climate change was to introduce an emissions trading scheme by giving away free permits to the energy companies to create emissions, and slow down the use of renewables in case it impinged on his beloved emission trading scheme, which has all the features of one of those toxic instruments so beloved of the banks. He has permitted more taxpayers’’ money to be spent by the members of Parliament each year on their “expenses” than he has permitted taxpayers to be invested in solar panels, which provide energy without burning fusel fuel.

As I have said, the proposed speech is hardly Churchillian; it sounds about as inspiring as Mr Neville Chamberlain’s speeches in the early days of the Second World War. The British public were not inspired by Mr Chamberlain, who spent eight years appeasing Adolf Hitler, rather like Mr Brown has wasted ten years on appeasing climate change.

Of course the British people, like those of every other nation in the world, have the character and invention to fight climate change, but not, I fear, without leadership untainted by the mistakes of the past.


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