Michael Gove is dead to me. As a friend I will always love and cherish him. But as a politician, he has lost every last scintilla of my respect.
Yes, he was a brave and committed Education Secretary; yes, he is probably the most literate, charming, polite, well-read, thoughtful, and eloquent senior members of Theresa May’s generally rubbish Government; but in his current role as Secretary of State for the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (DEFRA) his performance has been utterly shaming. And cowardly. And dangerous.
Of all the forces seeking to undermine Britain right now — its economic growth, its liberties, its intellectual and moral probity, its traditions of responsible limited government, its conservative values — the Green Blob is one of the deadliest.
The Green Blob is a cabal of vested interests: second-rate scientists squeezing the last drop out of the increasingly raddled global warming milch cow; dodgy fake entrepreneurs swilling at the renewable energy trough; shyster politicians green virtue-signalling for votes; hardcore left activists using environmentalism as a cloak for their ongoing mission to dismantle the capitalist system; lazy, parti-pris environmental correspondents who transcribe press releases from green NGOs; eco charities which depend for their income on ramping up green hysteria; in-house sustainability advisors eating into their businesses’ bottom line; a vast and ever-expanding eco-system of lawyers, consultants, financiers, civil servants, and other parasites, all gorging like leeches on this $1.5 trillion per annum Enron industry.
Why would any intelligent politician, still less an intelligent Conservative politician, nail his colours to the mast of an industry so manifestly corrupt, wilfully ignorant, anti-democratic, and anti free market?
Yet this is what Gove has gone and done.
His appointment of Tony Juniper as the head of the government quango Natural England is just the latest and worst in a series of abject capitulations to the Green Blob.
As someone once said of a similarly fatuous, politicised appointment, it’s like putting Dracula in charge of the blood bank.
Juniper is a life long, deep green activist about as inimical to Conservative values as you could possibly imagine.
Formerly the head of left-wing environmental charity Friends of the Earth, Juniper was one of the main instigators of the Climate Change Act, among the most expensive, intrusive and pointless pieces of legislation in parliamentary history which will commit the UK taxpayer to spending at least £18.3 billion every year until 2050 on a quixotic mission to “decarbonise” the British economy.
Juniper is a watermelon: green on the outside, red on the inside. Sure, you’d expect that kind of person to be appointed head of a £200 million a year government advisory body if, say, Labour were in power or if Caroline Lucas counted for anything.
But last time I looked, Britain still had a Conservative government.
It won’t be Conservative forever — especially not the way this lot are carrying on. Which is one of the things that makes Gove’s appointment of Juniper so inexcusable.
It’s not as though the Deep State isn’t already chock full of quangos run by left-wing appointees. Wouldn’t it have been nice, just for once, if a Conservative minister had gone and broken the mould by giving this influential position to someone who wasn’t yet another left-wing ideologue? Mightn’t it be helpful if, once Labour are back in power, there are at least one or two conservatives running such advisory bodies so as to provide a hint of check and balance to the otherwise relentless march of socialism?
Gove has missed a huge trick here. Around the world, people are growing increasingly sceptical of the climate change scare story. Savvy politicians — Trump in the U.S., Bolsonaro in Brazil — have been quick to grasp that higher energy bills, black outs and brown outs caused by renewable power fails, dead birds and bats at the foot of eco-crucifixes, lost coal industry jobs, and people dying in fuel poverty just aren’t a big vote winner.
This would have been the perfect chance for Gove to play clever politics and do the right thing by signalling a change of direction in this government’s approach to the environment, nature, and green issues generally.
I think of myself as an environmentalist — a real environmentalist. Partly I think this way because it trolls all the right people. Mainly I think this way because it’s absolutely true: I love the British countryside; I love all those birds and bats (which is why I get so terribly upset when organisations that are supposed to protect them, like the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, champions the wind turbines that slice and dice them); I want clean rivers and pristine beaches and preserved old forests (preferably deciduous: coniferous just looks shit in the English landscape). Like most if not all Conservatives, I understand better than anyone the importance of conservation.
Unfortunately, the cause of real environmentalism has long since been hijacked by hair-shirt ideologues in thrall to the religion of Gaia-worship, obsessed with (environmentally damaging) renewables, antipathetical to free markets or freedoms of any kind because essentially they’re all Malthusian misanthropes who want to bomb Western Industrial Civilisation back to the dark ages.
There are plenty of people Gove could have chosen for the job who don’t come with all that eco-fascist baggage. Someone like Lord Ridley, perhaps, a trained zoologist, hugely well-informed about science and nature, a keen environmentalist and conservationist, but not an ideological greenie.
The timing of Gove’s appointment is especially bad in the week when the head of another government quango Lord Deben — head of the Climate Change Committee; a green crony capitalist who moves in the same circles as Juniper and champions the same causes — was exposed as having accepted hundreds of thousands of pounds in consultancy fees from companies that have benefited from the green legislation he helps to push.
Can Gove really not see what terrible optics this is for a Conservative government increasingly viewed by the public as out of touch, shambolic, short on real achievements, long on politically correct gestures?
Yes, Tony Juniper looks good in a chunky knit sweater; yes, he’s big mates with the future king, the Prince of Wales; yes, Friends of the Earth is a great organisation so long as you don’t know a single damned thing about what it believes in or what it actually does.
But his appointment is precisely the kind of shallow, ultimately counterproductive gesture politics of which people are heartily sick.
If Gove is the best the Conservative Party can offer, then Britain really is in trouble.