I would like to wish everyone a happy 2019.
I would like to wish everyone a happy 2019.
A few weeks ago I was rattling along in my diesel Mitsubishi ASX when I heard yet another radio news story about the negative impact that our fossil powered vehicles have on our climate.
I decided that it was time for me to do my bit, regardless of how small and I headed off in search of a replacement for the ASX. First stop was our local Hyundai dealer in search of the battery electric Kona. “I would like to see the Kona electric please” I cheerfully said to the car sales person, “so would I!” He replied. It turns out that the Kona is only available on-line, Tesla style and demand is high.
Kia was next but their all electric Nero is not yet available so no joy there. I had heard good things about the Kia Optima PHEV Sportswagon but our local dealer had neither the Saloon or Sportswagon PHEV Optima and only one Optima of any kind! I finally found the exact car that I wanted at an independent dealer and snapped it up.
Step two was to get a home charge point and I plumped for Pod-Point. This was a pleasantly easy process from first ordering on the Pod-Point website through to installation.
I received help with getting the government grant, the installation date was well managed, the engineer sent me a text advising me off his arrival time and he arrived bang on time, and after about an hour and a couple of coffees we now have a smart Pod-Point charger on the wall and my car has a full battery.
Tomorrow I should be able to cruise silently to work, which is just within my new cars’ 33 mile EV range.
I would have loved an EV but Tesla prices are too steep for my budget, at least to get one new enough to fit in my company rules, and the alternatives are just too hard to get hold of but my PHEV seems a good step forward.
Oh well, definitely a fully electric next time!
As we charge towards a ‘No Deal’ Brexit, I have found myself, again and again, wondering why the Prime Minister is so resistant to a second vote on Article 50, despite ever growing numbers of people changing their stance and supporting it.
As I sat pondering this it occurred to me that maybe she is being much more shrewd than she is being given credit for. When you think about it, why would she give her open support to the second vote as this would without doubt undermine her negotiating position over a deal with the EU? We know she is a remainer but we also know that she is at the mercy of the Brexiteers and must do what she can to get a deal and get the UK out of the EU.
If the EU negotiators felt that there was a real possibility of article 50 being reversed following any second vote, why would they do anything to make Brexit at all palatable to the same people who may (in the event of a disastrous ‘No Deal’ Brexit) vote to remain?
So here I am, possibly deluding myself in the desperate hope that the PM has something up her sleeve, but finding that if I put myself in her position, I would also feel that I had to appear to be resisting a second vote.
Lets hope I’m right.
Embed from Getty Images How has society reached a point where we trust people with clear self interest over independent experts who have dedicated their life to knowledge and truth? Surely there can be no more obvious example of peddling lies for the purposes of profit than the fossil fuel industry.
Yet when politicians who clearly have a financial interest in sponsoring the promotion of the fossil fuels industry decry the evidence presented by the scientific community about man made climate change and the need to act, the masses seem to cheer. To support this misinformation and to continue burning these fuels is surely proof that Turkeys do in fact vote for Christmas, they are celebrating the political permission to continue with a wasteful lifestyle that will certainly bring about its own destruction.Embed from Getty Images
What is also astounding to me is the hostility that is directed at anyone trying to make a change. I am a patreon supporter of the youtube channel Fully Charged Show which was created by TV actor Robert Llewellyn, and which offers independent views and information on green energy and transportation. Some of the comments that are made on the channels youtube page are incredibly hostile, and this is true of other sites covering similar topics.
I recently read an article about some UK city councils looking at introducing bans on diesel fuel vans and other trade vehicles that make what is called ‘the last mile’ delivery e.g. trucks would bring goods to depots outside of cities and E.V vans and other vehicles would make the delivery run into the city, reducing, in fact eliminating emissions caused by goods delivery. One of the comments to this article actually started with the words “F*** Off,” and went on to explain how this was never going to happen and how the wonderful diesel powered chuggers would be around for years and years.
Firstly, why does he care what powers his van, no one will expect him to change until the alternative is affordable and usable (it terms of practical range) and if we don’t start making these changes he will have no trade to conduct in his wonderful ‘chugger’.
The ignorance of individuals like him can be excused to a certain extent but the misinformation and farcical claims recently made by a US Government department destroy what little credibility the Trump Administration has. The EPA is trying to roll back fuel standards required of internal combustion engine cars, and has (with a straight face) claimed that E.V’s are dangerous because they are too light, and that because they are so efficient people will drive further. If you already thought that the Trump administrations and its supporters were on another planet, here is your evidence!
Fortunately, many states are rejecting this nonsense and will fight through the court system to reject it, and the American car industry can also see that if they do not produce E.V’s and try to become the market leaders and innovators (a lead which Tesla has given them) they will see a repeat of the past.
G.M famously announced that Toyota would “loose their shirt” because of the Prius only to find themselves on the verge of bankruptcy with fields full of unwanted gas guzzling SUV’s, whilst Toyota could not manufacture the Prius fast enough to meet demand. GM are also famous for throwing away their lead on the world, after scrapping the EV1 electric car, a car with usable range, fast acceleration and growing popularity amongst the Hollywood elite and which could have put GM at the top of the tree, instead of handing this lead to the Japanese, which is of course what they did, with the Prius becoming the new darling of Hollywood.
So here we are, with large parts of the worlds population deciding to put their trust in the hands of the very people who stand to gain in terms of wealth and power by prolonging the use of fossil fuels and rejecting the advice and information of the experts, scientists who have nothing to gain financially or in terms of political power and just want the truth to be heard.
Embed from Getty Images I try to show complete political neutrality when I tweet or blog and this is made quite easy for me by the fact that whilst I understand that many politicians are decent people, as a group I generally dislike all of them.
What I do like is democracy, as imperfect as the British one is. Unlike many, literally anyone can become an MP and we have seen some odd characters over the years. Love him or hate him, John Prescotts’ rise within the New Labour ranks was significant, especially for a man with no society connections, or rich friends, JP was a ships steward and a union man and genuinely comes from a ‘normal’ background; if there is such a thing, proving the truth of Britains’ open politics. Getting the top job without connections and rich friends, well that’s a different matter.
All that said, one of the things that keeps our democracy and country in rude health is strong governance and strong opposition, and at present in the UK we see neither of these at a time when these traits are more important than ever. With the Conservative party only in power thanks to the DUP and the magic money tree, the labour party will never have a better chance of influencing change and potentially winning power and yet it seems to be wallowing in a dank pool of introspection and in fighting. Political factions such as ‘Momentum’ have seized the opportunity to force their agenda, the label of anti-Semitism blights the party and apparently muddled thinking and wishy washy inaction by Jeremy Corbyn is allowing these problems to grow.
Here is where we find the core problem with democracy. Jeremy Corbyn has won two leadership elections, so you cannot dispute his right to lead the party, however while he does, Labour will not win an election on its own merit. Should #brexit lead to what many believe will be an economic catastrophe, then its very likely that the Conservative government will implode and Labour could take power under these circumstances but that prospect even has an atheist like me praying to a higher power that this does not happen. The current shadow front bench would struggle to decide on what sandwiches to have at the election night celebration party in case they choose something that might offend an ethnic minority in some intangible way, and heaven forfend that someone might ask for a black coffee rather than one without milk.
You see, under Jeremy, the labour party looks and sounds more like a local Labour council than a government in waiting. Too busy ‘sweating the small stuff’ to concentrate on the big issues, illustrated by JC asking at a recent PMQs about ‘Bus Passes’ at a time that the country is looking down the barrel of financial collapse due to #brexit and the utter incompetence of the Government in making anything remotely positive come from the #brexit vote.
I’m not suggesting that some group of Labour grandees force a kind of coup, rather that the Labour membership recognise that although all the evidence suggests that Jeremy Corbyn is someone that genuinely wants to look after the voters and is a decent man, his inability to unite the party, his naive selection of people for his shadow front bench and his weak answers to questions about the defence of the nation render him unsuitable to be prime minister.
The current labour shadow front bench makes all the sounds of being able to lead, talking tough on big issues like law and order, energy and defence, but if its bluff is called by the collapse of the Tory government, they will be left with a level of power that they are completely unprepared for.
That will certainly not lead to the jubilant celebrations seen on the night of Tony Blairs’ New Labour win.
Embed from Getty ImagesI’ll be honest, I always kind of liked Boris Johnson. The affable, shaggy haired chap was to me the perfect local MP. He was able to connect with constituents and pushed hard in the house of commons on issues such as stopping the Heathrow Airport expansion, even offering to lay down in front of the bulldozers in an Arthur Dent style show of defiance.
Unfortunately, Boris also decided (or was persuaded) to become one of the leading figures in the #EUreferendum #voteleave campaign, and with it began his journey from a popular and trusted politician (something not easy in todays political climate) to someone now associated with a political group proven to have used misinformation and misrepresentation as a key part of their campaign.
He has been accused of being an outright liar, but without really knowing Boris, and only being able to judge from his past behaviour in public life, I see a different story here. I see someone who for certain, has (or had) high political ambitions for which I don’t personally think he was suited to, and for the same reason that I don’t think he was suited to high office is the same reason that I believe that Boris has been manipulated by more ruthless characters with motives that do not have the British common man or woman at their heart but who have used these people as their weapon of choice.
If you watch the famous, well, infamous interview with Boris on the battle bus that promoted the clear lie about the benefit to the NHS of #brexit , where he is challenged about this claim, many people say that Boris looked uncomfortable and presented a not very convincing defence of the claim. I believe that Boris never felt comfortable with the tactics being employed and yet he persevered. Many have said that he looked surprised and concerned at the #voteleave victory and I can believe this.
Maybe he was persuaded that the country would not vote for #brexit but it would force a big change in the complacent and arrogant attitude of Westminster, maybe he was convinced that on top of this, the Conservatives could claim that even though the country voted to remain, the Tory party had kept its promise. Whatever he was told or believed, I have never yet seen any evidence to convince me that Boris actually expected or even wanted to win the vote.
Boris is at his best when he is working at national level rather than internationally. He was a popular Mayor, who was seen as someone who did not take himself too seriously and even though clearly well educated (Google saw a spike in the search for the word Mugwump from those of us not Eaton educated) he could genuinely relate to what politicians like to categorise as ‘normal people’. His popularity peaked after his famous ‘Prat on a wire’ incident where he found himself stranded on a jammed zip wire after trying to make a spectacular entrance, Union Jack flags in hand.
History is unlikely to be kind to Boris but for what its worth, I think he should quietly return to what he does best, local politics. Also he should consider carefully when making sweeping statements about laying down in front of bulldozers as thanks to his party, it looks like they are coming and his promise may yet be put to the test by his constituents.
Embed from Getty ImagesAs the weeks tick by towards Britain’s exit from the EU, and as it becomes ever clearer that neither the May government nor the Brexit fanatics have the slightest clue as to what to do, my mood darkens. If this was a storyline for a political drama on Netflix, it would not get commissioned on the basis that it is too far fetched, so let’s look at this plot outline.
David Cameron, the then British Prime Minister in an apparent attempt to ensure victory at the next general election, decides to pander to a significant minority in the country by offering a referendum on the UK’s membership of the EU, and, he thinks, simultaneously head off the growing popularity of the right wing UK Independence Party.
Having called the referendum he doesn’t even bother to make it clear that it is advisory and that Parliament retains the final say, so confident is he that remain will win. The government also decides not to take a neutral stance and declares itself pro remain, and in a great example of irony, when the remain campaign is unsuccessful, because of this pro remain stance David Cameron is forced to resign anyway.
Camerons’ smart move would have been to declare that he was holding a referendum to gauge the true feelings of the British people toward continued membership of the EU. He could have asked “If given the choice would you vote to leave or stay within the EU?”, thus giving those wanting to protest the status quo the opportunity to do so, without risking the current catastrophe. Should the result be negative and armed with this information he would then have truly been in a position to demand a renegotiation of our membership.
The problem with this is that thanks to Maggie Thatcher, we already had a sweet deal. We get a rebate on our contributions, whilst having one of the most powerful voices in the EU parliament. We enjoyed being the centre of the EU financial universe and have attracted massive investment from overseas investors such as the car industry because of our skilled workforce, combined with free access to EU markets, all of which is under threat from #brexit.
“Oh but we are slaves of the EU politicians and their rules and laws”, says who? We always had the power to create our own laws, we had a veto to stop anything that we didn’t like to do with foreign affairs, laws, taxes and the EU budget, and since ‘None EU Immigration’ was a big issue, maybe people should have asked why successive governments failed to tackle it.
Tony Blair has of course come out of the woodwork again recently to try to do his bit for reversing the article 50 process but it was New Labour as much as any government, that led us to this position. Lets remember it was one of his MP’s who was witnessed saying the “British people where inherently racist” because of rising concerns of apparently uncontrolled immigration, and this was compounded by that fabulously excruciating moment when Gordon Brown accused a lady, who had expressed concern over immigration, of being an awful bigot, whilst still wearing a live Sky News radio microphone.
Political arrogance and complacency led us to the point where we had a vote to leave the EU (our best hope for future prosperity) in order to resolve problems not caused by the EU but by our own hopeless political elite.
Congratulations Britain, we freed ourselves from freedom.