UKIP’s Roger Helmer ventures into supporting renewable energy, and gets it all wrong.

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More UKIP bonkersness.

Roger Helmer has now decided he supports renewable energy, but only if it is bioethanol distilled from wheat.

This appears to be because he doesn’t want a bioethanol distillery built in Stocton (sic) on Tees to lie dormant.

Helmer displays his usual casual disregard for facts by claiming that bioethanol can be produced at the same cost as fossil-fuel derived petrol, because it has no subsidy. Wrong on both counts.

British Farmers grow winter wheat across 2 million hectares of farmland to feed to beef cattle. You may think cows eat grass – think again. They are fed wheat to make them grow quicker. Feeding wheat to cows is good for farmers profits but otherwise is not such a great idea. Intensive wheat production is also a high impact land management practice which affects the environment, landscape and society. To suggest it has no cost is beyond naive.

Anyway some of the energy in that wheat is converted into vehicle fuel: bioethanol is produced by distilling the alcohol from fermented wheat. That wheat is grown in Britain by British farmers, receiving £200 per hectare per annum (plus bonuses) just for the privilege of owning land. This is the madness of the Common Agricultural Policy. And the idea that this is a co-product which would have been thrown away had it not been made into ethanol is of course nonsense. As I said, the energy has been removed from the crop to make ethanol. That energy would have ended up in the cow or been returned to the soil.

So Helmer is of course wrong to suggest that the bioethanol has no subsidy. I’m surprised that his Climate Adviser Ben Pile hasn’t spotted this basic gaff. I have written about Pile before.

Secondly Helmer is wrong to suggest that the Fossil Fuel industry doesn’t get a subsidy. In fact the Fossil Fuel Industry is one of the most heavily subsidised industries on the planet. According to the International Energy Association, hardly a radical outfit, Fossil Fuel Subsidies globally were $544 billion in 2012. Renewable Energy subsidies were just $100 billion.

OK so those are both wrong, what about the plant – who paid for that? As always it’s not as easy as you might think to follow the money. Helmer quotes a £750M investment in the plant. But Ensus, who run the plant only mention £240M and say that the plant was funded by “both private investments and grants from the government.” Grants is another word for subsidies. If anyone can tell me how much Ensus (or indeed the other bioeth plants) received in government grants I would be grateful.

Finally scientists have looked at whether bioethanol plants in the UK are economic or not. They concluded that, at an oil price of $100 a barrel, they aren’t economic.

Based on this effort, I suggest UKIP sticks to its current position on renewables; that they are all bad. At least that keeps it simple (and also wrong.)

 

Photo: Myrabella / Wikimedia CommonsCC-BY-SA-4.0

 

Posted in biofuels, renewable energy, UKIP | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

Lib Dems continue to haemhorrhage voters to left and right

More on that Lib Dem – UKIP connection.

The most recent YouGov poll shows the libdems on 8%, with UKIP on 18% and the Greens on 7%.

It’s worth noting that of those who voted LD in 2010, only 32% intend to vote for them in 2015. This compares with 71% continuing to vote Tory, and 78% continuing to vote Labour. I suppose this shows that the Lib Dem voter is more of a floating and tactical voter, so no great surprise there.

Where are the other 68% of the previous LD vote going?

26% are going to Labour and 12% to the Tories. This leaves a whopping 30% voting for “none of the above”, which is as many as are going to vote LD.

These voters are heading left and right – 14% to the Greens and 12% to UKIP, with the rest to the Celtic Nationalists.

UKIP are picking up most votes from disgruntled Tories (21% of those who voted Tory in 2010 are heading right) with only 9% from Labour.

The Greens are now up to 11% for young voters in both the 18-24 and 25-39 age brackets, while UKIP have 23% of the 60+ voters.

It’s also worth considering that 20% of those asked, either would not vote or haven’t decided yet. This means only 57% of voters are saying they will support the 3 traditional parties in the election, which is only a little over 6 months away.

I don’t remember a time when there was this much disillusion with mainstream politics in Britain, but then I don’t remember the 30s, or the preceding decades when there was so much more interest and activity in politics.

Posted in General Election 2015 | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

The Changing Politics of British Landscapes

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It’s fair to say that UKIP’s environmental policies, especially those involving any deep thought or reflection, are hard to find anything other than a little bit silly. And this sense isn’t helped by the antics of their environmental spokesman Dr Earth aka Andrew Charalambous. At least he has now apparently withdrawn the claim that he is a professor of environmental science. I guess this blog does have some influence after all!

One of the more bizarre claims from UKIP is that wind farms are actually going to lead to the total loss of biodiversity and eventually the whole plant will be ripped to shreds by their evil blades. This is what they say:

Apart from devastating the view of serenity and breathtaking scenery of our countryside the rotating blades kill and maim countless of innocent birds even from protected species. Moreover, wind farms emit grotesquely disturbing noise pollution which petrifies so many small animals causing them to abandon their historical habitat. In addition, the various oils and greases used by the turbines contribute to the imbalance of our ecosystems.

Now aside from the fact that this appears to have been translated by google translator, the idea that the turbine oils and greases are a significant threat to our ecosystems, compared to say, fracking, or indeed pretty anything else, what it does indicate is that UKIP do really care about Landscapes. Time and again they talk about our precious countryside, breathtaking scenery, marvellous views and so on. Charalambous again:

The environment is and should be sacred. That is why we need to protect our countryside, the most breathtaking on mother Earth not only from development but wind farms too.

This can also be seen in UKIP’s preference for brownfield development, and protection of the green belt at all costs. I am not convinced all within UKIP understand the difference between greenfield and greenbelt, at least not at the lofty level of UK spokesman. But there are plenty within UKIP who do understand this difference and some are in influential places.

Stephen Crowther is chairman of UKIP. Some say he is the real power behind the Farage puppet with his arm stuck up it pulling the strings. I think I did hear Farage say “gottle of geer gottle of geer” on the BBC one day last week.  Not much is known about his past other than he is from North Devon, went into PR and journalism and returned to Devon. Interestingly he was an active Lib Dem before going UKIP and was also active in the North Devon CPRE group, where he came to prominence helping to run an anti wind farm campaign. He rose out of nowhere to become UKIP chair. As chair of UKIP he has been apparently ruthless in his actions,. This from Tom Pride

According to UKIP insiders, the real power behind UKIP is not Farage, but party chairman Steve Crowther.

Crowther’s a bit of a mystery. He appeared out of the blue in UKIP circles only around 5 years ago and rapidly rose to take a top position in UKIP.

What we do know is that he is a former journalist, political spin doctor, PR expert, and marketing executive – who has been described by UKIP insiders as a “svengali-like” figure and a “man of mystery”.

As a former journalist and PR executive, Crowther is unsurprisingly the mouthpiece for UKIP. He sends regular emails to UKIP representatives and candidates instructing them in great detail what they can and cannot say in public and to the press.

And anyone who doesn’t toe Crowther’s line is summarily disciplined or even sacked.

Crowther decides who becomes a candidate, who is allowed to become a member and who remains a member of the party – a power he is not afraid to ruthlessly wield.

Oh and before he took over UKIP, Crowther used to be an activist in the Liberal Democrats.

I wonder if Douglas Carswell knows he’s now become the underling of a ruthless and autocratic former Lib Dem?

Crowther is standing as the UKIP candidate against the Lib Dem incumbent for North Devon in the General Election. He could win.

It just happens that CPRE are running a campaign called “waste of  space” asking members of the public to tell them about unused brownfield sites where houses can be built. And this is just what UKIP are also calling for, through a UK Brownfield Agency. Brownfield is shorthand for previously developed land, which can include land that was previously used for industry. Of course it depends how far you go back, but some of the “pristine landscapes” beloved of CPRE and UKIPPERS are of course, post industrial landscapes. The Dartmoor upland landscape has been fundamentally shaped by the milliennia old Tin Industry for example.

Another landscape where UKIP are already having a great influence is the Peak District. The Chair of the Peak District National Park Authority is a key role, highly influential and especially at this time as they are recruiting their new Chief Executive. Chair of the PDNPA is Lesley Roberts, who has been on the NPA for a number of years. I believe she first joined as a Lib Dem district councillor (most NPA members are drawn from the local councils). Although her seat on the NPA is now via her Parish Council, she recently stood as a UKIP candidate in a local council election. the PDNPA is, to my knowledge, the first major statutory body chaired by a UKIP person.

So here we have another ex Lib Dem activist, moving to UKIP, who is very concerned and clearly very well versed in landscape protection.

Bill Cash was one of those Eurosceptic MPs who made life hell for that nice Mr Major during the early 90s. Now his son, William Cash, has become UKIP’s heritage spokesman. Cash Minor lives in the family pile in Shropshire. Cash has done very well running a magazine for the uber wealthy called Spear’s. I guess now he wants to get into politics. Cash’s all for protecting our precious heritage, countryside the green belt and so on. Or he is self interested in promoting the heritage industry, as would appear to be the case from his website , where you can “buy in” to the aristocratic lifestyle, if you’re wealthy enough. Only for the weekend mind.

Finally, one of the key funders of UKIP is a swiss banker ( I kid you not) called Henry Angest. Again, not much is known about him, but he owns a Bank, which owns a business which makes a lot of money out of lending unsecured loans to people in financial trouble. It’s not Wonga. It’s called Everyday Loans. He also has influence, and recently was embroiled in a bit of a story about Esther McVey accepting a donation from him, when she was Minister for cutting benefits. Just the sort of people who might have to go to nice Mr Angest for a loan, at 80% interest.

Mr Angest is also interested in the landscape, especially the Scottish landscape, of which I understand he owns quite a large chunk. But I suspect he is more interested in less regulation and lower taxes for businesses. Andy Wightman’s piece on Angest is well worth reading in full, here. Angest has given over £7M to the Tory party before starting to fund UKIP.

What can we conclude from all this anecdote, heresay, and hard evidence?

UKIP are most certainly interested in landscape and protecting it from allcomers – and I expect there will be quite a few CPRE members around the country who will be voting UKIP next May. While many people will be thinking UKIP speaks for them, in truth, far from being the People’s Army, UKIP are a clique of the mega wealthy, the landed gentry, and political opportunists who have jumped ship from the Lib Dems and Tories.

Do we really want them to impose on us what landscapes, or any other “British” values, that they cherish?

Remember, this has all happened before: read Simon Sharma’s Landscape and Memory ,to understand how a sense of identity, linked to values of landscape, can be corrupted.

 

 

Windfarm photo by Jon Blathwayt (Winterton Wind Turbines) [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

Posted in brownfield, landscape, the far right, UKIP, wind farms | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

Owen Paterson calls for the use of nuclear submarines to power the UK

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Owen Paterson wants the UK to run on electricity from Nuclear Submarines

Owen Paterson is a bit of a submarine himself these days. He goes under, for weeks at a time, then pops up, fires off a few choice quotes (mostly climate change denial, Green Blob paranoia or anti-Europe) and disappears again.

He’s just surfaced and fired a torpedo.

No surprises that the Telegraph gets the juicy titbits from Owen Paterson’s forthcoming speech to the Global Warming Policy Lobbying Outfit, or whatever they have decided to call themselves now they have split the “charitable” activities out from the all-out Fossil fuel funded lobbying that Lord Lawson and his cronies have been up to for the past 7 years. Except perhaps the Mail would have been a more attractive prospect to place the story, given its much larger readership. Never mind.

No surprises that Paterson is using the speech to call for the Climate Change Act to be suspended or scrapped, if everyone else doesn’t also do what the UK has committed to doing through the Act, reducing our Carbon emissions by 80% by 2050.

No surprises that Paterson is scaremongering like billyo about it, warning the lights will be going out if we don’t abandon our commitments to act on climate change. And no surprises that he is advocating a new Dash for Gas – Shale Gas.

These are givens, all the things we come to expect from OPatz. The man who refused to take a brief from his chief scientist, instead preferring cosy fireside (coal fire I imagine) chats with his Brother in Law the Irrational Optimist Viscount Matt Ridley.

But there are a few surprises in the leaked items from his speech to the denialist faithful. Paterson is going, apparently, to advocate using small nuclear power plants, akin to the ones used to power nuclear submarines, dotted about all over the country. Where would Paterson put all these reactors? Since so many high security military bases where the reactors could have been stored safely, have been sold off, I’m not sure having loads of small nuclear power stations dotted about the country is such a good idea; terrorists may feel they are being encouraged to take advantage.

If I have read the article correctly, these nuclear reactors, or the heat from them, will be used to heat Combined Heat and Power systems…but heat can only travel short distances economically. So I guess Paterson is suggesting all these small nuclear reactors are placed within our large towns and cities. I’m not sure this has been entirely thought through.

Paterson then drops a real bombshell. We will have to get used to “demand management” where clever switches will turn off our freezers and other electrical stuff for a couple of hours a day. Demand management, from the arch neoliberal free marketeer? Really?

I am now wondering if someone has been masquerading as Paterson in some sort of satire. Perhaps it’s a friend of Banksy’s. Perhaps the whole thing is some sort of Banksy-esque performance art satire. We can but hope.

Of course we are only hearing the parts of the speech that Paterson and his denialist chums want us to hear at the moment. I expect when the speech has been made, and Nigel Farage et al are applauding him and beckoning him over into the UKIP camp, we will hear the parts of the speech that are more typical climate denial grandstanding we have come to expect from Paterson. We will hear that the fabled global warming pause is old enough to vote, etc etc.

With the Tory Party fraying at the seams in the run up to the election, having Paterson shooting from the lip stage right might annoy Cameron et al just enough for them to sack him, or start briefing against him.

There’s still time to do a Reckless Owen!

 

Photo from Wikimedia Commons (U.S. Defenseimagery.mil photo VIRIN: DN-SN-86-06573)

Posted in climate change, Denialists, Global Warming Policy Foundation, Matt Ridley, neoliberalism, Owen Paterson | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Thought Spending Cuts were to reduce Public Debt? Think again

Last week David Cameron told the Tory Conference that under the Coalition the country was “paying down its debt.” This, after all, we are told is the reason why we have had to endure:

The worst cuts in public services in many decades – £800M off the Defra budget between 2010 and 2016

and

Privatisations such as The Royal Mail, large parts of the NHS, and selling off publicly owned land for private profit

But hold on – what’s this?

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The Public Sector Net Debt increased by nearly 50% during this Parliament!

So if all these cuts and privatisations are not about reducing the public debt, then what are they about?

George Osborne made it very clear last week at a Question and Answer session at the Institute of Directors, when he made a brazen attack on Charities who he cast as “anti-business”and urged business leaders to  help him “win this argument for an enterprising, business, low-tax economy that delivers prosperity for the people and generations to come.

Osborne, the son of a Baronet and personally worth well over £4 Million , is not in the slightest bit interest in delivering prosperity for “the people”, unless they are his “people”. The disparity between the richest and poorest has grown under this Government to its largest since the Second World War. The top 10% in the UK own nearly half all of its private wealth, while the top 1% own as much as the poorest 55% and are getting wealthier at an increasing rate.

Is there any real surprise then, that with politicians like this, voters are voting against politics by supporting populists like UKIP.

Thanks To @LabourEoin for publishing this on twitter.

 

Posted in David Cameron, public debt, spending cuts, Tory Party, UKIP | Tagged , | 3 Comments

Will “The Usual Suspects” fund Owen Paterson’s new Dummy Tank UK/2020?

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a dummy tank

Two and a half years ago I wrote about the Art of Deception, and Operation Fortitude, where inflatable tanks were used to fool the Germans into thinking that D-Day would be an invasion of the Pas de Calais, not Normandy. It is still one of the greatest acts of deception in Military history.

I suggested in that article that some Thinktanks might be as deceiving as the inflatable tank in the photo, because it is impossible to tell who funds them, and therefore who they represent. Recently more previously secret funders of the Global Warming Policy Foundation, have been revealed. This outfit set up specifically to challenge the science behind human-induced climate change, it turns out, is funded by Neil Record and Lord Nigel Vinson (who sounds strangely like Lord Nigel Lawson). These two characters are also funders and Trustees of the neoliberal thinktank the Institute for Economic Affairs, the IEA. The IEA represent Tobacco Industry interests and also campaigns against climate change action, so it’s not surprise that IEA trustees should be helping, in the deep background, support GWPF.  Another major donor to GWPF is billionaire hedge fund owner Michael Hintze, who is a massive Tory party donor – oh and a major donor to the IEA.

Now who do you think would set up a new neoliberal thinktank, to promote Britain leaving the EU, freeing itself from targets for action on climate change? Who would set up “a new research unit to develop a radical conservative vision for a prosperous, sovereign and socially just United Kingdom in 2020.”

Yes! Back from the wilderness! Turning the spotlight on the Tory Backwoods – it’s Opatz, the return!

Owen Paterson is setting up a new Dummy tank, UK/2020, to promote exactly the same things as the IEA, The Taxpayers Alliance, the Centre for Policy Studies and the Adam Smith Institute. Paterson recently said action on climate change “may actually be causing” more damage than climate change – yes he actually said that. It’s straight of the GWPF quote book.

Although he continues to deny any plans to defect to UKIP, he sees them as “natural allies”.

Indeed. UKIP’s combination of climate change denial, deregulation, support for big agriculture, hatred of windfarms and paranoia about the contamination of their “precious bodily fluids” would chime very well with Paterson’s view of the world.

Expect UK/2020 to advocate the NFU position, climate change denial, anti-environmentalism, dredging, deregulation, very small government, fracking, GMOs, mega industrial agriculture, wildlife killing (for fun or profit, or even better – both), biodiversity offsetting, and all the other things Paterson worked to promote during his time as Secretary of State against the Environment. As Arch Grand Masters of the Neoconoids, Paterson will probably be more politically influential heading up this dummy tank, no doubt branded as representing “the ordinary person in the street”, as he was at Defra.

Paterson is reported to have already raised several hundred thousand pounds of funding. From where, we do not know. But I can think of a few names who may well be happy to put a hundred k into a new pot to advocate against action on climate change. Record, Hintze, Vinson….

Posted in anti-environmental rhetoric, Astroturfing, corporate lobbying, deregulation, Neoconoids, neoliberalism, Owen Paterson, Think Tanks, UKIP | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Tory Constituency Candidates: of the people, by the people, for the people?

Here’s an interesting little insight into the inner workings of the Tory party, thanks to Conservative Home website.

Hertsmere constituency is one of the safest Tory seats in the Country. They need to choose a new Tory Candidate as James Clappison is standing down. The local conservative association has gone for a shortlist of four candidates:

1. Antonia Cox: A City of Westminster Council Councillor, former Banking Correspondent for the Telegraph, former Leader writer for the Standard, She has worked for the Neoliberal thinktank Centre for Policy Studies and is Director of a new Free School.

2. Oliver Dowden. Following a very similar line to Alex Deane, Dowden is currently 2nd in command in David Cameron’s personal team of advisors. Dowden worked in the Public Affairs industry, or Corporate Lobbyists as they are more commonly known.

3. Chris Hayward. Hayward is actually an active local politician, as deputy leader of Hertfordshire County Council, so he would know where his constituency was and what the issues were there. But he is also a Common Councilman of the Corporation of London (just like Deane) and runs a property investment firm. This vignette from the Corporation website tells us a little more about him:

Chris is married to Alexandra. They have two young children and live in Sarratt, Hertfordshire and the City of London. He is Deputy Leader of Hertfordshire County Council.

 In the City Chris has been Churchwarden at St Margaret Pattens and the Chairman of the Trustees of the Friends of St Margaret Pattens. Currently Chris is Immediate Past Chairman of the Broad Street Ward Club, a member of the Candlewick and Farringdon Ward Clubs,  Life Member of the City Branch of the Royal Society of Saint George and a member of the Guild of Freemen.

 Chris is a member of the Carlton Club and Walbrook Clubs in London and a member of the Leander Club and Phyllis Court Clubs both in Henley-on-Thames. He is also currently Master of the Worshipful Company of Pattenmakers.

Hayward was eligible to stand for election as a Common Councilman because he owns a flat in the city, and won the election with 82 votes out of 455 cast – 18% of the vote.

4. Rishi Sunak. Sunak worked for an activist hedge fund called the Childrens Investment Fund TCI, and other hedge funds. TCI was set up to channel profits from aggressive investments into charitable work in the developing world. Last year TCI didn’t give any of its £2.3Bn annual profits to charity.

Sunak now works for Catamaran Ventures, a family hedge fund.  He heads up neoliberal Thinktank Policy Exchange‘s Black and Minority Ethnic research unit. He has founded a free school. He is also the son in law of one of India’s richest men, Infosys founder Narayana Murthi.

Looking at this you could see a simple scoring system on a few criteria:

  • Set up a free school? score 2 points.
  • City of London Common Councillor? score 2 points.
  • Worked in the city? score 1 point.
  • Extremely wealthy: score 5 points.
  • Worked for a Neoliberal thinktank? score 3 points.
  • Member of the Carlton Club? score 1 point.
  • Worked for David Cameron’s personal team? score 1 point.
  • Worked in the tory press? score 1 point (leader writer score 2).
  • Worked as a corporate lobbyist? score 1 point.

I wonder whether this approach could be applied to any other Tory candidate selection processes.

 

Posted in General Election 2015, politics, Tory Party | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

De Mauley’s maturity shows up former boss Paterson

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Prince Charles speaks at the Reversing The Trend Conference on meadows (c) Miles King

Earlier in the Summer I helped organise a conference on the plight of wildlife-rich grasslands, especially wildflower meadows. Plantlife, Rare Breeds Survival Trust and the Wildlife Trusts came together and Prince Charles gave the keynote speech, which was a heartfelt and compelling call for society to value these treasures and not lose any more.

Lord De Mauley (looking intently at the Prince in the photo above) spoke for the Government. He spoke mostly about the National Pollinator Strategy and how important it was for us all to look after the bees and other pollinators, which is absolutely right. He didnt talk much about meadows, and gave standard Government responses to questions about agri-environment schemes, regulation, greening and other topics.

I thought he handled the answers well, didn’t give anything away, but did so with the easy charm and affability of someone from the aristocracy, much like his predecessor Richard Benyon (though he is not technically an aristo). I did get the impression that De Mauley was listening to all the points being made in the discussion.

So I was pleased to see him very overtly distance himself from his former boss Owen Paterson, at the Tory Party Conference. Asked what he thought of Owen Paterson’s deranged attack on The Green Blob after his sacking, De Mauley said

“I am not Owen Paterson,” he said. “Owen is an honest guy who says what he thinks but we shouldn’t be afraid of constructive challenge. If it wasn’t for constructive challenge we would make the wrong decisions.

“I think members of what I like to call the green lobby do us a service and they have shown us what is possible with lobbying. There are lessons some of us – on all sides – could learn lessons from that.”

This shows to me that De Mauley is a mature politician, who listens to sensible advocacy even if it does not chime with either his own personal views, or is at odds with his Defra briefings. It doesn’t mean he will necessarily do anything different as a result of course, but at least it is worth trying, whereas it was abundantly clear from his first day in office that it was pointless trying to influence Paterson, as he already knew all the answers.

 

Posted in bees, Defra, Friends of the Earth, Lord de Mauley, meadows, Neoconoids, Owen Paterson, Prince Charles, Richard Benyon | Tagged , , , , | 3 Comments

Clacton blank Banksy and parody themselves in the process

Banksy

It is a great story. Banksy paints this image of plucky British (English) pigeons protesting against an exotic looking migratory bird – a swallow perhaps. Are the pigeons feral?

Tendring Council, in the Clacton constituency which will be voting in the first UKIP MP in a week’s time, receive a complaint from the public that there was offensive graffiti on the town’s boathouse. Was it a UKIP voter unhappy at the metaphor of UKIP Pigeons  – or was it a complaint from the English Indigenous Bird Defence League?

Not realising they had a real life Banksy which would be “worth a lot of money”, they sent in an operative to remove it. It’s been painted over, destroyed. Perhaps Banksy is pleased. The art existed, arguably still exists, even though it has been destroyed.

Once the council realised they have just lost their town huge Banksy-kudos, not to mention half a million pounds, then invited Banksy back, but only on condition he paints something “appropriate”.

Nigel Brown, Tendring’s Comms manager said “We would obviously welcome an appropriate Banksy original on any of our seafronts and would be delighted if he returned in the future.” Do Comms managers have their sense of satire removed before being allowed into job? What would an appropriate Banksy look like and wouldn’t that destroy the whole idea of Banksy.

There are so many layers of irony running through this story that it would be shame to dissect them. But the combination of mindless political correctness, satirical political art, the obsession with commodifying everything and the febrile political debate around national identity, is a very heady one.

Parallels are sometimes drawn between conservationists’ attitudes towards alien invasive species, and xenophobic attitudes towards foreign people. Gardeners Question Time was recently criticised for being a hot bed of repressed nationalism, even fascism.

I think if Banksy had drawn that parallel, ie put a Ring-neck Parakeet on the wire, for example, instead of a swallow, that might have made a lot of people, including conservationists, feel rather uncomfortable.

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I went for walk the other day along the Frome Valley, on the edge of Dorchester. There are number of streams and this one had masses of Himalayan balsam along the bank. It often gets pulled up as an invasive alien, even though there is no evidence that it has a deleterious effect on native wildlife. This stand had survived and was still flowering prodigiously, with the fantastic weather we have had. It was absolutely covered in bumble and honey bees.

 

Posted in alien invasive species, UKIP | Tagged , | 12 Comments

Boris Calls for CAP to be scrapped: Farmers warn this will cause the sun to explode

From Farmers Weekly:

“Boris Johnson calls for CAP to be scrapped

Tuesday 30 September 2014 09:00
Boris Johnson

London Mayor Boris Johnson has called for the CAP to be scrapped.

In a letter to the Daily Telegraph, Mr Johnson said he agreed with Ukip there was a “need to scrap the Common Agricultural Policy, which costs every family £400/year in extra food costs”.

Mr Johnson included the controversial plan in a wishlist of reforms he would like to see if the UK were to continue its membership within the European Union.

See also: Read more news on: CAP reform

He set out his proposals for EU reform in a speech dubbed the “Boris Rally” at a fringe meeting at the Conservative Party conference in Birmingham on Monday (29 September).

Mr Johnson said it would be “easy” for the UK to leave the EU and sign up to a free-trade agreement.

He told delegates: “In an ideal situation, I would like to see a reformed EU where we remain squarely at the heart.”

But he said if the UK were to leave the EU, it would be “very easy to set up a free-trade, tariff-free zone”.

In an interview with the BBC last November, Mr Johnson attacked the CAP, labelling it as an “anomaly” and an “anachronism”.

Mr Johnson has been selected as the Conservative candidate in the safe Tory seat of Uxbridge and South Ruislip at next year’s general election. He has already said he will not seek a third term as London Mayor in 2016.

His selection as prospective MP has added fuel to speculation that his goal is to replace David Cameron as Conservative Party leader.

In 2013, European farmers received a total of £49bn in farm payments provided by the CAP – roughly 43% of the total EU budget of £104bn.

France received the largest share of the budget (about 17%) and the UK netted 7%.”

Naturally Farmers have warned that scrapping the CAP will cause food riots, cause millions of children in Africa to starve, and generally lead to a breakdown in civilisation and the end of life on earth. Alright, maybe I exaggerate a little.

This is hardly new news of course. Johnson has been calling for the CAP to be scrapped for some time, including back in February in the same august organ, the Telegraph.

Posted in agriculture, Boris Johnson, Common Agricultural Policy, NFU | Tagged , | Leave a comment