The Week in Politics
• The Queen’s Speech, the 55th of her reign and the last before the election, was the main event of the week. Her Majesty fired the starting gun for the election campaign with an address which drew mixed reviews from observers. While the Government’s £670m-a-year plan to provide free personal care to 400,000 mainly elderly people was welcomed by Help the Aged, the absence of any bills on electoral reform or to clean up Parliament drew sharp criticism from opposition parties and campaigners, the traditionally Labour-supporting Guardian among them:
“Five interesting speeches were given in parliament yesterday. Four of them – those by the Queen herself, David Cameron, Nick Clegg and Charles Clarke – all had something to say about the need for political and constitutional reform in the United Kingdom. Only one of them had nothing to say at all about these subjects. The exception, depressingly, was Gordon Brown.
“No politician who is truly in touch with the concerns of the British electorate can be in doubt that the two biggest political issues in the public mind today remain Britain’s broken banks and Britain’s broken politics. Mr Brown is happy to talk about the former, and rightly so. But he seems to have no grasp of the scale and importance of public disaffection with MPs and the political system. On all this he still seems consistently and woefully off the pace.
“Sure, Mr Brown can sometimes say a few of the right things on reforming politics when he has to. At the Labour conference this autumn, he promised to give voters the right to recall a corrupt MP. He committed himself to a referendum on the alternative vote system in parliamentary elections. And he pledged to make the House of Lords accountable and democratic.”
• With Copenhagen just 16 days away, the need for action could not be more urgent. On Wednesday, the Global Carbon Project predicted a potentially disastrous 6-degree rise in the Earth’s temperature over the course of the next century. If unchecked, such a rise would have dire consequences, according to science writer Mark Lynas:
“It would catapult the planet into an extreme greenhouse state not seen for nearly 100 million years, when dinosaurs grazed on polar rainforests and deserts reached into the heart of Europe. It would cause a mass extinction of almost all life and probably reduce humanity to a few struggling groups of embattled survivors clinging to life near the poles. With the tropics too hot to grow crops, and the sub-tropics too dry, billions of people would find themselves in areas of the planet which are essentially uninhabitable.
“This would probably even include southern Europe, as the Sahara desert crosses the Mediterranean. As the ice-caps melt, hundreds of millions will also be forced to move inland due to rapidly-rising seas. As world food supplies crash, the higher mid-latitude and sub-polar regions would become fiercely-contested refuges. The British Isles, indeed, might become one of the most desirable pieces of real estate on the planet.
“But, with a couple of billion people knocking on our door, things might quickly turn rather ugly.”
Climate deniers take note…
• The fight for the Presidency of Europe finally came to a head this week, with little-known Belgian Herman
Rumpy-Pumpy van-Rompuy beating the early front-runner Tony Blair, though Britain did secure the consolation prize of European High Representative, Baroness Ashton. It was a result predicted by the Guardian two weeks ago:
“Five years ago Blair vetoed the appointment of Guy Verhofstadt, Van Rompuy’s predecessor as PM, as commission president. Asked about Blair on Flemish TV last month, Van Rompuy said: ‘We have not forgotten.’”
Rompuy’s revenge: best served cold.
Progressive of the week
The Archbishop of Canterbury, denounced by the Taxpayers’ Alliance for “showing yet again how out of touch he is with the British taxpaying public” – even though the polling evidence suggests it is the TPA who are out of touch. As Left Foot Forward reported on Monday, 57 per cent of the public support new taxes on air travel and 68 per cent support vastly increased taxes on gas-guzzlers.
Regressive of the week
Climate sceptic James Delingpole, an old Oxford University pal of David Cameron and Boris Johnson, who this week attended the Fiends Re-united soirée in Paris, alongside such luminaries as Ross McKitrick, a libertarian with a track record of anti-environmentalism, Fred Goldberg, who claims that polar bears are increasing in number, Benny Peiser, a social anthropologist who has only published three research papers in peer-reviewed journals, and Fred Singer, a man paid by tobacco companies to deny the effects of passive smoking.
Delingpole also tried to discredit an 88-year-old war veteran, but the rent-a-quote climate change sceptic was soon put in his place.
Evidence of the week
Or not. The Taxpayers’ Alliance’s attack ad on the EU was launched today and will be shown in cinemas nationwide. As our very own point-by-point rebuttal shows, it is a flagrant fabrication – chief of which is the claim that “Today the EU costs you £2,000 a year”. The actual net figure is only £15 per person.
What’s trending on Twitter
Following the announcement that he will apologise for the forced relocation of 150,000 children to Australia, where many of them were abused, tweeters tell the Prime Minister what else he should say sorry for:
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