Curious to discover whether UKIP could justify new(ish) recruit Mark Reckless’ position on the protection of Lodge Hill (he is currently for its protection), I went in search of their environmental policies. I had already subjected myself to “ordeal by UKIP agriculture policy“, and the scars having nearly healed, I braced myself to read what they had to say about nature, wildife and so on.
It doesnt start well. The Environment in UKIP land is a subset of Housing. I suppose the thinking behind this is that farmland is for farming, and everything else is for housing, so the environment is where houses are built. Perhaps I’m overinterpreting here.
I was also intrigued by the UKIP slogan “vote purple keep The UK (represented by the Union flag) green.” Are UKIP now trying to grab the “greenest government ever” trophy from the LibCon coalition.
Their housing and environment spokesman is Andrew Charalambous, who is, variously, a Barrister, a Colonel to the Governor of Kentucky, a trooper in the Territorial Light Cavalry, and a Knight Grand Commander of the Byzantine Order of Holy Sepulchre. He claims to be descended from Roman Emperors, Norman Kings and the Doges of Venice, styled himself Doctor Earth, and set up an Eco Club, which entailed clubbers flying to Ibiza for their green club experience. Friends of the Earth got very cross when Charalambous tried to associate their name and logo with his antics.
You can read all about Dr Earth’s beliefs here on his facebook page. It is quite strange. He says he has completed one of the profoundest spiritual journeys in history. I find it a bit odd that someone who is as enlightened as Jesus or Buddha would end up as UKIP’s housing spokesman, but I understand the path to enlightenment is full of temptations, dead ends and traps.
Charalambous is also a property developer and private landlord, owning over a thousand properties. So he should know something about housing and the private rented sector in particular. He has profited greatly from it, earning over £750,000 from housing benefit paid via tenants to his properties in Haringey, North London, many of them immigrants.
But he is also, according to this wikipedia page, a Professor of Environmental Sciences at the Universitas Sancti Cyrillus, which also bestowed upon him a Doctorate of Divinity. This University is based in Valletta, Malta, and is closely linked to the Byzantine Order of Holy Sepulchre, in which Charalambous is a Knight Grand Commander.
I was curious to find out more about the University of St Cyril, but there was little information, other than its own promotional websites. Until I found it listed here and here with other degree mills and bogus universities. Could this really be true?
Anyway, enough about UKIP’s colourful environment spokesman: what of their policies?
Well on climate, we know about UKIP – but they are keen to stop banging on about carbon and start tackling other issues, like the culling of the Amazon Rainforest. Is that like Badger Culling, but hotter?
They will bring in Clean Streets inspectors, with powers to fine councils who fail to keep their streets clean. And ensure at least one dustbin per every 3 residents; presumably this will help all Dr Earth’s tenants to clean up their front gardens.
UKIP love trees – just as the BNP do, especially Oaks. UKIP wants to reforest Britain, so I guess they support George Monbiot’s re-wilding campaign. George will be delighted to receive such high profile support, especially from Dr Earth. According to UKIP deforestation causes lung cancer, not smoking. I wonder if they got confused with the pro-smoking astroturf outfit called FOREST. Its a complicated business adn there must be so little time available for Dr Earth to study all this, in between running his housing empire, raking in housing benefit, being a Professor in Malta and a Colonel in Kentucky.
UKIP would ban all tree-felling and provide a 100% grant for tree planting, including labour AND make it tax-deductible (eh?) for individuals and businesses. Trees according to UKIP make the soil less acid and more calcium rich (it’s magic) “causing more prolific carbon sink”.
UKIP want cleaner rivers, and to achieve this they will create a “Marine Environment Corps” which will go round collecting rubbish. Tougher fines from polluters will fund the corps. UKIP will also insist on shampoo bottles having labels warning consumers of the nasty chemicals inside.
On our declining wildlife habitats UKIP is clear what the problems are, unclean water and rubbish.
“Our priority is to preserve the wildlife habitat of endangered species, particularly by replenishing sources of clean drinking water required for their survival.”
Finally – the missing piece of the jigsaw. Our wildlife is disappearing because it doesnt have access to clean drinking water. Even the plants. It reminds me of Dr Strangelove and the paranoia that the Ruskies were intent on poisoning “our precious bodily fluids“.
UKIPs Wildlife Rangers (paramilitary?) will scour the country collecting “inappropriate refuse” which can trap or injure birds of animals. UKIP are worried about wild plants and would commission an investigation into which ones are threatened – which is something we could really do with. And already have. They also mention amending Section 13B of the Wildlife and Countryside Act, which doesn’t exist.
On greenbelt, UKIP is immovable. The Green belt is “effectively the lungs of Great Britain“. The green belt shall never be surrendered. Dr Earth is worried
“We breach the green belt. We start with the shrub lands. Where do we draw the line? Who makes the assessment as to what is to be kept green and what is to be concreted”
Who could resist the call to stand shoulder to shoulder with Dr Earth if the green belt was breached and the shrub lands were lost? Not I.
UKIP have probably the strongest brownfield first policy of all the parties, and here stand shoulder to shoulder with CPRE. That must make their Chief Exec Labour man Shaun Spiers very uncomfortable.
I will leave you to explore the remoter corners of Mr Charalambous’ website, in search of nuggets of green inspiration.
What can we tell from this rambling, shambolic hotchpotch of paranoia, fantasy and ignorance? Dr Earth’s take on the environment has a distinctively new-age tinge to it, combined with a barely hidden authoritarian urge to create quasi-military eco-squads, planting trees, fining litter bugs and preventing the contamination of the drinking water. This is coupled with the usual anti EU, anti immigrant and anti climate change positions that are well known, and a smattering of “the market knows best” neoliberalism.
I wonder if Mark Reckless has read this stuff – after all Dr Earth will soon be visiting Lodge Hill with him to expound on the virtues of building houses on Brownfield land.
Photo of Dr Strangelove from the Film by Directed by Stanley Kubrick, distributed by Columbia Pictures [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons