British politics is very boring compared to American politics just now, a fact reflected in the content of recent Samizdata postings. What is there to say about Britain now? They almost all agree, or pretend to agree. They are almost all mistaken. That about covers it. At least in the USA there is occasional debate about something resembling principles.
Perhaps principles are easier to observe from a distance, uncluttered by nearby clutter, rather as skyscrapers loom larger when viewed from a distance. But from where I sit, in Britain, part of the reason for this British political boringness is that Prime Minister Cameron has no apparent objective other than to remain Prime Minister Cameron. What he does at any given moment seems to be entirely the consequence of the various directions in which, and the varying force with which, he is being pulled, pushed, kicked, bribed or threatened. He himself never makes a decision, other than a decision about the combined effect upon him of these various forces.
I seem to recall reading, not long after the coalition government was formed, that Cameron may actually prefer coalition government to regular government. That way, interpreting and constantly rebalancing all those forces is his basic job.
But when those forces change, what Cameron does changes with them, and that can be slightly interesting. One such slightly interesting shift happened in the course of the recent cabinet reshuffle, in the form of the appointment of someone called Owen Paterson to be the government’s Environment Secretary. The interesting thing being that apparently Owen Paterson is not nearly as devoted to wind power as the Windies (so to speak) think that such a person ought to be. In general, Paterson lacks green enthusiasm, as Fraser Nelson explains.
Owen Paterson is far from a household name, but the significance of his appointment as Environment Secretary has not been lost on the green lobby groups. As far as they’re concerned, this is war. They are already denouncing him as a “prominent hater of wind turbines” and overall climate change sceptic.
Sounds like good news to me (rather as the news in this posting was), except actually what “climate change sceptics” are really sceptical about is not climate change but climate catastrophe.
So, why the change of public mood, and consequent slight Cameron shift? Well, part of it is that climate catastrophe scepticism is growing and growing. As I keep insisting, the key to all this is catastrophe. If the climate is just changing a bit, and if sea levels are about to rise a bit, then the obvious answer is for us to adapt, and let the market send us whatever signals it is inclined to. Only if climate catastrophe looms does it make any sense to shut down regular economics and switch the entire world over to emergency tyranny mode, of the sort that the people who set the climate catastrophe scam up in the first place yearn for. But more and more people now believe that there is no more reason now than at any other time in human history to expect climate catastrophe. In short, our side is (as it has been for several years now) winning the climate catastrophe argument (which is the bit of the argument that matters), big time.
The wider public, the sort of public (most of it) that is far more bothered about its fuel bills than by any arguments about longer term climate upheavals, is getting the news of this intellectual transformation not just in the form of an abatement of green propaganda, but also in more elusive ways, involving moral atmospherics.
Fraser Nelson again:
For more than a decade, environmental policy has been cursed with cross-party consensus because no one wanted to be seen to oppose so noble a cause.
It is precisely this air of green nobility that is now changing, as Cameron has surely noticed.
Thanks at first to the whistle blowing sceptics like Steve McIntyre, and then to the bloggers and journos who publicised such findings as McIntyre’s, like Andrew Montford, Christopher Booker and James Delingpole, and now to the big-time daily newspapers who have been joining in more recently with similar stories, “climate science” just doesn’t seem as noble as it used to. Frankly it is being presented as downright corrupt. These “scientists” don’t insist upon the truth of their opinions merely because they just do. They do this because this is how they now make their living. Their constant screeching about the venal motives of their opponents is pure projection, and is more and more being presented to the wider public as just that.
Meanwhile, on the back of the climate science scam, a new variety of green entrepreneur (one of them being David Cameron’s own father-in-law) has arisen. In the days of unchallenged green nobility, the people who thought along these lines both set up or participated in green businesses and sat on public bodies whose mission was to impose the very green schemes and regulations that these green businesses depended on for their profitability. Time was when this seemed okay. But not now. Suddenly, being the director of a wind farm company, and at the same time sitting on some government committee which does all it can to block other and more rational forms of energy doesn’t look quite as noble as once it did.
It’s not that the Windies have given up exerting any forces of their own. The point is that these people are now on the defensive. From the green point of view, the times they are a-changing, and when the times change, people like David Cameron change with them.