Good to be back!
First it was the schools that were being handed over to the private sector as academies and so-called ‘free schools’ for the likes of second-hand car salesmen with weirdo views like Sir Peter Vardy, now it seems that chunks of the environment are to be parceled out to the likes of Shell, BNFL or Tesco for their tender care and public solicitude. Leaks from Defra indicate that cuts of 25-40% are to be imposed on its £3.2bn budget for the 3 years to 2013-14, to be paid for by flogging off vast swaths of of Britain’s designated nature reserves and landscapes of special scenic beauty to the Philistines in the business sector and the multinational companies for them to profit from. The bankers’ ruination of the economy, which has already cost this country over £700bn to save the malefactors from their own greed and recklessness, is now to be expiated in part by laying waste the countryside, devastating biodiversity, and degrading the Crown Jewels of Britain’s beautiful landscapes.It is astonishing how the Tories have manipulated the situation to their interests. First they opposed bailing out the banks, but then when they saw it was popular, they reversed their policy and gave support to it. Then they said it was proving far too costly and it showed just how much New Labour (not their friends in the City) had wrecked the economy. Then in government they embraced the policy wholeheartedly because it gave them a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to shrink the State and make public spending cuts on a scale that even Thatched had shrunk from.
Whether they can get away with it as it slowly sinks in what their real aims are is another matter. Whether the public will wear the privatisation of Britain’s national forestry and woodland, selling off the world-class Met Office into private hands (could we then trust what it says about climate change?), the withdrawal of government grants for the management of 2,200 miles of British Waterways, and the steady deterioration in private hands of beauty spots and coastal landscapes is far from clear. What really is important is mounting public campaigns of resistance against this money-centred, environment-heedless Government because they will only dare do what they think they can get away with. Aux armes pour l’environnement, citoyens!