Little did we know that when the Conservatives went through their very short-lived attempt to appear to care about the environment, their full slogan was “Vote blue, get green algae”.
The party has now totally returned to its traditional roots and doesn’t it show? Greens are little more than urban terrorists, the right to peaceful protest must be curtailed to stop people trying to save the planet, ULEZ is a commie plot – one originally introduced by Boris Johnson and expanded by Grant Shapps, but still a commie plot. Now North Sea oil and gas has to be pumped faster to try to cut carbon emissions (no, me neither) and the water companies are the victims of a conspiracy to attack the benefits of private enterprise.
The cherry on the cake is that instead of trying to do something to improve the utterly disgusting state of the seas, lakes and rivers of this green and pleasant land, the government is cutting the environmental standards that house builders have to follow to prevent run-off from their sites destroying local waterways.
This will apparently be a “Brexit freedom” that will invigorate the moribund building industry like nothing before. I must admit that it is news to me that the housing crisis has been caused by protecting the environment; I thought it was 13 years of Nimbyism, incompetence and government U-turns.
But apparently if the building industry is allowed to pump crap into each and every stream within half a mile of a building site it will be able to build another 100,000 homes by 2030 and create another £18 billion of economic activity.
This is so obviously utter tripe that it is hard to know why the government is daring to serve it up to us.
Certainly, claiming that this is a reversal of a totally unnecessary EU regulation gets the UKIP branch of the Tory party licking its lips and rubbing its corduroy trousers. Even though the “Brexit freedom” is to pollute the country’s rivers even more, they will still love it.
Presumably it also appeals to the Tory faithful, the 20% or so of the population that still thinks the government is doing a good job. They are the anti-woke, climate change denying, rabid core support that the Tory party is worried that it would lose to Nigel Farage if he decides to stand in the coming general election.
But it is also true that these people are going to vote far right whatever happens.
In the middle of a campaign to clean up the environment that is gathering steam every day, when the world is burning, the oceans warming, penguins dying in their tens of thousands and beaches coated with effluent; surely there are more votes in going green? Or at least pretending to go green? Even if there isn’t, surely doing the right thing still has a role in government policy making? You would hope so.
Almost 20 years ago I visited Denmark to report on its green housing policies. Basically, house building rules and regulations got tougher every year and the building industry still managed to build lots of lovely homes.
Walls were massively deep because they were full of so much insulation, lofts were unusable as they were stuffed with foam, roof water was collected and used to flush toilets, windows were treble glazed.
It went on and on, there is no reason the UK could not do the same.
But here the government is in hock to the building industry, which produces too few homes and now has persuaded the government to let them pollute more.
We are not even heading in the right direction; it is shameless and shameful.