A correspondent to the local rag asked us to contact Ed Davey and David Cameron to tell them to pull their fingers out on climate change (my words!).
However, this would be a futile gesture as it misunderstands the intentions and motives of senior politicians in all countries.
Back at the height of the euro crisis, Jean-Claude Juncker, then head of the Eurogroup in Brussels, said, “We all know what to do, but we don’t know how to get re-elected once we have done it”.
In other words, we politicians know how to solve the euro crisis but we’re not going to do it because remedial measures would be so unpopular we wouldn’t get re-elected. And they didn’t do it.
That Juncker meant this as a joke makes it all the more chilling—and no less true.
The purpose of senior politicians in being where they are is their own self-aggrandisement and that of their friends and those who would pay for it. Any occasional beneficial consequences of their being in power are entirely by products.
You have only to look at the huge range of problems our society has been plagued with for decades—from abuse in care homes to farmers not being paid a decent price; from an insane housing market to young adults leaving education unfit to take up a job—to deduce that, at the very best, the politicians’ hearts aren’t really in it and, rather more likely, they calculate that there just aren’t any votes or kickbacks in devoting their time to these problems.
So, with climate change, plus ça change. There is no point in expecting senior politicians in any country to do anything materially effective about climate change until voters are screaming for it. And voters won’t accept that there is a problem until it is really hurting. By which time, of course, it will be far, far too late.
I’m not advocating mass protest on the streets (though I foresee that). But we do need, in the forthcoming election campaign, to make it clear that we cannot and will not tolerate national politicians who exhibit the toxic mixture of self-interest, moral weakness and stupidity that is shown by those of all parties in the UK.
As Giuseppe di Lampedusa wrote in his novel, The leopard, “If we want things to stay as they are, then things will have to change”.
by Jeremy Marchant / Image: Free images