We've mentioned in these pages many times the parlous state of British politics which offers voters no genuine choice. Realising that the only thing they care about is power (power to make loads of money for themselves, mostly), politicians have abandoned traditional loyalties.
Instead, they grab hold of any policies they think will do one of two things: (a) make them seem responsible, liberal and egalitarian, or (b) make it hard for anyone to criticise them. For anything at all.
Actual beliefs have gone out of the window. Real social responsibility followed, and close on its heels went any kind of moral standpoint. Instead, our politicians duck and dive, making overtures to any minority interests that might prove awkward and neatly avoiding the needs of the people who elected them in the first place. When the going gets tough they just dig their heels in and weather the storm. Years ago they would have resigned at the first whiff of trouble, but they're wiser now, and know that while the press may sometimes have the power to oust them, the electorate certainly haven't so they might as well hang in there, keep taking the salary and wait for their seat on the board.
So it's always a matter of some interest if any minor party appears to offer a real alternative - you know, have some actual policies, that sort of thing. Accordingly our ears pricked up at the news of a policy document from the Green Party. "Who knows," we thought, "we've been ignoring them for years because they're just a bunch of hippies and tree-huggers, but if they've got an actual policy …"
And this is what they said …
"We believe in people taking control of their own lives." So long as they do what the Green Party says, presumably.
"Stop Britain's public services from being forced open to international competition and privatisation." OK, so the French won't be able to take over any more of our water companies, and the Spanish can keep their hands off Llandegley International Airport. Jolly good. Both the sheep will be pleased.
"Raise the rate of Corporation Tax to 40% (from 30%)". To make life even more difficult for businessmen and employers. With recession looming this might not be a very good idea.
"Ban supermarkets from further store openings." So, no more supermarkets. Whoopee. Where will the residents in the new eco-towns do their shopping, then? Because they're not going to be very eco-friendly if they have to get in the car and drive twenty miles to the nearest proper town, are they? And if the Green Party seriously think that small local shops are mysteriously going to spring into existence instead, they've got another think coming.
"Place restrictions on global free trade." Why? What restrictions? Wasn't protectionism discredited forty years ago? And who is going to decide who needs protecting against whom? What is this rubbish? Do they seriously expect that they can just say "restrict global free trade" and the rest of us will nod sagely and fall in line without asking what the hell they're talking about?
"The Greens believe in education being for the public good, and publicly-funded." Good. No argument there. Except who will decide what the public good is? The Green Party? Does this mean that every child will have two hours a day of compulsory Global Warming Indoctrination because the Green Party thinks this'll be good for the public?
"Re-nationalisation of Britain's railways and re-regulation of our buses." Ah, now they're talking!
"Poverty and oppression still fuel conflict and nurture extremism. The people of Iraq, Afghanistan, Israel and Palestine still long for real peace." Who says? It would be nice if it were true, but you can't make a thing happen just by saying it. Try putting "children killed Israel Palestine" in Google and you'll see how much those two peoples long for real peace. Oh sure, they'd like peace if they could get it, but it would have to be on their own terms or not at all.
"Progress is not the inequality that comes from half the world living on less than £1.70 a day." So the best way to progress is for the affluent West to give the Third World loads of money, is that it? I think we've tried that, in Africa, and the warlords and tribal leaders just trousered the lot. Think again, mate.
"Every police force will have a dedicated Wildlife and Animal Crimes Unit". Now this is really sensible. At last we'll be able to dial 999 when those bloody foxes get in the dustbins again, and they'll be arrested. Not sure whether an ASBO is likely to be effective with foxes, though.
"Stopping motorways and urban sprawl from disfiguring hills and forests that have inspired generations of musicians, writers, poets and painters." Look mate, I'm a musician, or used to be, and I'm still a writer so I think I'm entitled to say that getting food to the shops, raw materials to the factories, goods to the ferry ports and people to their jobs is a damn sight more important than the arty-farty maunderings of some long-haired layabout who ought to get a proper job. Especially bloody Wordsworth.
"We want a GM-free Britain". Oh, I say, that's a bit unfair. General Motors may be an American company, but Vauxhalls have come a long way since the fifties when the wings could rust right through in the course of a single heavy shower.
"Farm animals have a right not to suffer". Quite right. So a Green Government would ban halal meat, then?
"We want an end to animal experimentation." Fair enough. If drugs need testing, what's wrong with testing them on kids? You could build it into the curriculum. For the public good, of course.
"Investing in sources of energy like offshore wind farms, wave and solar power that don't cause global warming". And don't produce much power either.
"We call for the return of the fuel-duty escalator, scrapped after the fuel protests, so that petrol and diesel become progressively more expensive year by year". Ah, finally. Finally we get to the real heart of the matter, finally we learn what it is that makes Green people tick. They want us out of our cars, and then they want to price us into starvation. Every scrap of food us city-dwellers eat is carried in a lorry at some point, and it already costs over £1,000 to fill an HGV with diesel.
And finally (and predictably) "Real Progress means stopping the nuclear industry."
So let's see if we've understood all this correctly. After a few years of a Green Party Government, we'd be living in a world where fuel is so expensive nobody can afford to drive. Cars stand rusting in the gutters, and the supermarkets - if you can find one - have nothing but local produce, a few mouldy carrots and cabbages from off the allotments, a cat or two, though there aren't many left now. Meat is scarce indeed, either illegal kill - dogs, cats, rats, the odd small child - or even scarcer meat from the government-run abbatoirs, each staffed by one old man to do the actual killing and thirty-five officials to make sure the animals don't suffer.
The electricity only functions for an hour or so each evening because there just isn't enough to go round. There are no nuclear power-stations any more, and the massive wind-farms that disfigure the hills and forests that have inspired generations of musicians, writers, poets and painters make only a tiny fraction of the electricity we need.
The factories - idle now, because of power shortages and a workforce that couldn't afford either the petrol or the train fare to get to work - are deserted but if you take your courage in your hands and break into one of them, you'll find warehouses and storage facilities piled high with useless goods - the firms were prevented from selling their produce because our markets were all closed in retaliation for our government's protectionism, and crippled by the swingeing increase in taxes.
There aren't many children left - some have fallen foul of the illegal meat trade, others have succumbed to the drugs that have been tested on them. There were so few volunteers for this vital work that it became necessary to introduce a lottery system, winners being taken away - by horse-drawn bus - to a factory on the Norwich ring road. There are rumours that in future the bus will be pulled by a team of men, because making a horse do it is demeaning and cruel. The bus has "British Railways" on the side.
So there we must leave it, this brave new green world. Little moves in the city streets, just the odd crow, an old newspaper blown by the wind, a surreptitious scurrying in the undergrowth which would spell "lunch" to anyone listening - if there was anyone listening, that is. At the end of the street where a major road crosses, small figures are moving, all shuffling in the same direction. These are the last remnants of the city's population, their belongings on their backs, making their weary way out of town. There is nothing left to eat here, except each other - and don't think it hasn't happened.
Maybe, they think, maybe it'll be better in the country. Maybe there'll be crops they can eat, potatoes and turnips just waiting to be dug up. They'll need houses, of course …
Out in the country, the country people know they're coming. They are waiting, waiting in the hedgerows, crouching behind the dry-stone walls, watching the road. They long for real peace, of course, for a time when their crops will be safe, their homes can be left unguarded as they always have been, when their children can run in the fields without being hunted down. But until real peace comes, they have shotguns ...
No birds or trees were harmed in the making of this article.
The GOS says: OK, I'm just making fun. Well, mostly. The Green Party do actually have one or two ideas that are pretty sensible. Here's one: "Greens argue that the introduction of compulsory ID cards is an infringement of civil liberties, and that their effectiveness in enhancing security and reducing the threat of terrorism is unproven and will be costly. Quite apart from the erosion of civil liberties, the introduction of ID cards is likely to be another bureaucratic disaster and there is little proof that the scheme will improve security."
Can't argue with that.
either on this site or on the World Wide Web.
Copyright © 2008 The GOS
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