Politics in the mainstream media is entirely seen through the prism of the relentless race to the right of the Tory leadership election. The only people who can vote are two football crowds worth of overwhelmingly white, overwhelmingly male, comparatively wealthy, mostly pensionable, overwhelmingly southern, people.
Brexit and the folding of UKIP into the Tory Party has changed the membership profile of the Tory Party. There are not many Dominic Greive comparative liberals still hanging in there. The typical Tory member used to be somebody like Miss Marple and her friends at St Mary Mead. It is now the St Mary Mead racist pub bore with a Jaguar.
The racist is of course key. People here get very upset every time I point out the exhaustively documented fact that the major motive of those voting for Brexit was anti-immigrant. I certainly accept that not all Brexiteers are racists. But all racists are Brexiteers.
The farce of the Tory leadership contest is that the inane Liz Truss is bound to win because of her skin colour. It is an entirely pointless exercise.
The prism of the Tory leadership contest has led the media to devote many column inches to the question of whether the massive energy bill increases should be tackled in part by tax cuts (Truss) or “handouts” (Sunak). Actual solutions, like renationalising the utility companies and imposing a 4% price increase cap as in France, are scarcely mentioned. These need to be adopted now to cope with the immediate emergency and provide the long term way forward.
Mentioned even less is the most obvious and urgent part of the solution – to consume less energy, as climate change roasts the planet.
A massive emergency mobilisation of resource to insulate existing buildings is the obvious first step. Every building should be insulated, at government expense, to the maximum practicable level. The homes of the poor should be the first priority – and are in general the worst insulated. Such a programme, on a wartime scale of mobilisation, would pump demand into the economy as it plunges into recession and provide massive employment opportunity.
This is true of every stage – the tooling up of production facilities and creation of raw materials as well as the actual installation. It seems to me so obvious a move that it is beyond me why the only people pushing it have to glue themselves to roads to get attention.
There are obvious other things to do, like reinstate attractive feed-in tariffs for domestic solar energy backed by government loans to cover installation costs, and make conversion to heat pumps free for those on benefits.
The Overton window has shrunk so small, the intellectual reach of public discourse is so enchained by neo-liberalism, that there appears no ability of the mind to respond appropriately to crisis. No solution can be attempted unless it makes some billionaires immeasurably richer. Society needs to awaken; people need to shed their chains.
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