The Green Blob
Owen Paterson wrote an astonishing piece in the Sunday Telegraph yesterday, culminating in an attack on what he called the "Green Blob". For the point of record, I am that deeply unfashionable thing, a one nation Tory. I don't have a partisan political axe to grind here, which I guess in Mr Paterson's view makes me non-blobby. Furthermore, I am a worker in the country, which makes me exactly the kind of person he claims to represent. I do, however, have a concern for the environment. What did he say? The gist of it was that he was proud to oppose green lobby groups, which are over-funded (by Brussels), politically motivated and ignorant, forming a "powerful self-serving caucus". He's entitled to his opinions, of course; he's a politician and this is a free country. I share his dislike of celebrities being wheeled in to front serious (environmental) campaigns, although that's an inescapable fact of contemporary life. I am sympathetic to the degree of personal abuse he has suffered, which seems to go with the territory. What matters, though, is how intemperate and dogmatic his views were. It's too boring to go into the complete list; this blog will give you a flavour. I've written before about the failure of government policy on neonicotinoids and (Somerset) flooding, for example. Too often he seems to have supported industry lobby groups against independent scientific advice. The damage he has done has not just been restricted to specific issues, however. It seems to me he has really poisoned the relationship between government and people interested in the environment, in a way which will take years to repair. In the short term he has alienated the Tories from many voters, which would seem to be David Cameron's view too. He has created more damaging long term issues for conservationists, though. Subjected to this kind of media coverage, conservation organizations will find it much more difficult to raise money and to engage with private landowners. My message to Sunday Telegraph readers is this. Environmental groups - whoever that means - are badly organized and even more badly funded. I promise you. I doubt there was an education blob, and there's definitely no green blob - it's paranoid nonsense. Our approach to environmental issues should be long term and evidence based, and not prone to this kind of unwelcome politicization.