But if we all agreed that this government is a shade of mucky brown, who really was the Greenest Government Ever?
My vote is for Clement Attlee’s 1945 Labour administration. His government built on the pre-war campaign for access to the countryside that had culminated in the 1932 Kinder Scout Mass Trespass and introduced the 1949 National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act. Our first National Park, the Peak District, appeared in April 1951 and appropriately included Kinder Scout.
The Attlee Ministry also brought in the 1947 Town and Country Planning Act, the legislation that brought in the Greenbelt in order to hold back urban sprawl. The Greenbelt has been under attack ever since, but it is still holding in there, a lasting legacy of a government hat genuinely cared about the British countryside.
Attlee also did a few other things too, such as create the Welfare State and give India its independence, and thanks to that their Green credentials get overlooked. As people, his Cabinet were anything but a Metropolitan elite. They were men who had come up from the Trade Unions or provincial universities, they were more likely to be seen on bikes than in the Granita.
And by contrast, what did New Labour do? The Right to Roam, I’ll admit, but apart from that? Well, allowed BP to drill for new oil West of Shetland using the technology that failed in Gulf of Mexico, tried and fail to get us to grow GM crops and planned a new generation of coal fired power stations. And all this happened whilst Tony Blair flew round the world in his private jet asking us to take Climate Change seriously. Seriously.
Well Labour. You’ve got to do better.
You used to be the Party of the people, but on this on the people are far ahead of you. On Sunday 21st September people will march in Manchester to demand action on Climate Change. Two thirds of the country is at risk of fracking whilst Climate Change will affect the entire world. The first step to beating the latter is to ban the former. On this we are quite clear, the scientists are quite clear and the IPCC is quite clear.
But like so much of British politics, it seems the people don’t matter. The party conference will not debate the Party policy on fracking because that has already been decided. Wherever the meeting was held, you weren’t invited. The people with power met the people with money and agreed to do everything they said.
Local government is not much better. Salford council were presented with a petition asking them to debate fracking, but they wouldn’t. Trafford Council were presented with a motion on fracking by their Labour group, but the debate was adjourned.
The nearest the people of Manchester will get to an actual debate is something called the Fracking Conference North which is happening in Media City the week after. At this, for a mere £350 a you can meet the movers and shakers in the industry and maybe have a chance to let them know what you think.
Frankly Britain, this is rubbish. You should not have to stand in front of a lorry or pay £350 to make your voice heard in a national debate. As Ian Hislop might say, “if that’s democracy I’m a banana“.
So who benefits by keeping democracy out of this huge decision? In the long run, nobody.
There really is wisdom in a crowd. When power is concentrated in the hands of the few, only a few people benefit, but when many people speak we all benefit. When money talks to power, both sides tend to only hear what they want to. The reason democracies still exist is because they make better decisions than oilgarchies. The Poll Tax, the invasion of Iraq; these were decisions taken by party leaders in defiance of the people, and ultimately both Thatcher and lair paid the price for not listening.
The Labour Party must listen on this one. You cannot being a new fossil fuel online in the next decade and still keep pour promises on Climate Change. You cannot condemn two thirds of Britain to air and water pollution and still pretend we are a Green a nd Pleasant land.
The Labour Party must oppose the government’s plans to allow fracking under our homes without our consent. The must fight the next election with a manifesto pledge to ban fracking and build climate jobs instead.
We,. the people, are telling them this, and if we use our voices in the right way they will listen.