Richard North, 04/11/2021  

The Saxon is not like us Normans. His manners are not so polite; But he never means anything serious till he talks about justice and right; When he stands like an ox in the furrow – with his sullen set eyes on your own; And grumbles, 'This isn't fair dealing,' my son, leave the Saxon alone.
This is from Rudyard Kipling's poem Norman and Saxon and goes to the heart of the English psyche. Our masters neglect it at their peril, as does the oaf Johnson whose been caught out again, living high on the hog.

This is the man who sneerily dismisses calls for a referendum, telling reporters: "I think this country has probably had enough referendums to be getting on with for a while".

His comment had followed high-flown rhetoric about being at “one minute to midnight to prevent climate catastrophe", and the need for a hair-shirt response, and yet, shortly afterwards, he was on a private jet winging his way to London to attend a reunion dinner for Daily Telegraph journalists at the exclusive Garrick Club, accompanied by Telegraph columnist Charles Moore.

Earlier, the flight had been justified by his staff, claiming that the prime minister was facing "significant time constraints" - implying but not actually stating that important matters of state were involved.

For once Labour got it right, calling it out as "staggering hypocrisy", even though it's water off a duck's back to the likes of Johnson who have no sense of shame and even less self-awareness, and who have elevated their sense of self-entitlement to a higher art form.

The presence of Moore, and Johnson's "reunion" with Telegraph hacks probably explain why we're getting nowhere with the petition, despite numerous approaches to the newspaper after Alister Heath had called for "a referendum on net zero to save Britain from the green blob".

Interestingly, someone who quite evidently had not got the memo is Allison Pearson, whose Telegraph column this week is headed: "I refuse to be lectured on climate change by the Keystone Cop26 brigade", with the sub-heading: "It has swiftly become apparent that it’s we who must make sacrifices to ‘offset’ the frictionless pleasures of the global elite".

Although a few days behind the curve, she makes exactly the same points that I have been making, as she writes:
Around 400 private jets landed at Glasgow airport, carrying world leaders and billionaire businessmen, which did slightly undermine the summit's key message that we need to reduce our carbon footprint in order to reach net zero by 2050. It swiftly became apparent that by "we" they mean poor people, who must make sacrifices in order to "offset" the uninterrupted, frictionless pleasures of the global elite.
Her piece then concludes with quite a strong statement:
You know, my strong sense is that most of us want to do our bit. To do whatever we can to protect the natural world and make the air fit for our children and grandchildren to breathe. We want those things, but we recoil from the Us and Them contempt shown this week by the world's leaders – and there's still 10 days to go. Hydrogen is not the H word they should be worried about; it's hypocrisy.
That message, reinforced by Johnson's latest excursion, is more powerful than anything else that will come out of CoP26, and while you will not see people marching the streets or storming No.10 (yet), it will not be forgotten. In time, as "net zero" measures begin to bite (unless they are stopped), it will come back and haunt the entitled ones. As Kipling warned, when we grumble: "This isn't fair dealing", leave the Saxon alone.

Even now, though, the spectre of popular resistance is obviously worrying the climate worshipers. The New Statesman sees a climate referendum as "a deadly threat", enjoining its readers "to stop talking about heat pumps and carbon budgets and start talking about capitalism, wealth and power".

Pro-Europeans such as myself, writes author Paul Mason, "lost the Brexit referendum because we didn't understand the depth of cultural opposition to science, reason, social liberalism and cross-border solidarity. Nor did we understand that, faced with a reactionary minority backed by the dark money of the elite, you need to defeat those you cannot persuade".

This is a seriously disturbed bunny, who then goes on to warn that, "If we don't want another referendum to be triggered and then lost, we need to get serious about something Johnson and Sunak have rejected: a transition plan whose costs are funded through borrowing, that is driven by the state not the market, and under which the taxes of the rich rise, rather than the fuel bills of the working class".

But, although Mason refers to Tony Parsons in The Sun, to Alister Heath and Farage, and burbles on about his "dark money" and "right wing networks", he also fails to notice our petition, creeping in under the wire with barely enough funding to keep the lights on. Funny enough, what I was last accused of taking money from "big oil" (by the Independent) was in the process if fending off the bailiffs who were after my (unaffordable) Council Tax.

By contrast, the very well-funded Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit - promoting an "informed debate on energy and climate change" – has launched their own pre-emptive poll, telling us that people, after all, don't want a referendum.

The poll found that only 21 percent of the public - 1 in 5 - wanted the government to hold a referendum on "net zero" before attempting to meet its climate change target, compared with 50 percent who said that there is no need to hold such a referendum as the commitment was in the government's last general election manifesto; the remainder chose "don’t know".

This is an organisation, incidentally, which has published a briefing note about "decarbonising heat", without once mentioning quite how expensive heat pumps are.

However, in a stance which is redolent of the strategy used against Eurosceptics - attempting to marginalise their concerns by pretending that no-one was interested – its poll "finds" that backing for a referendum on "net zero" is lower among British adults than a vote on many other issues, including assisted dying, privatisation of the NHS, clamping down on corporate tax avoidance and raising taxes on high earners.

With the same lack of self-awareness that afflicts our elites. Sepi Golzari-Munro, acting director of the Unit, says:
There's overwhelming public support for ending the UK’s carbon pollution and most people just want the government to fulfil its manifesto commitment and get on with the job. Parties that promised "net zero" in their manifestos at the last general election won 94 percent of the vote. The democratic mandate is overwhelming.
It's how you tell 'em, I guess. But if you go back to an earlier opinion poll published by the government in April of this year, we see that the research found that 87 percent of participants had heard of "net zero", although only 9 percent stated that they knew "a lot" about it.

To elicit the responses, participants were first given a brief statement "clarifying" what net zero was, the text of which read:
The UK government has set a target for reducing UK carbon emissions to 'net zero' by 2050. By achieving "net zero" emissions, the UK will no longer contribute to climate change. This will involve significantly reducing emissions from many different activities, such as driving cars, the food we eat, and the electricity we use. Any remaining carbon emissions would be balanced out by technologies and actions that reduce greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.
Needless to say, there was nothing there about closing down the domestic gas supply and forcing people to buy expensive, inefficient heat pumps, nor of them being required to ditch their cars in preference to electric vehicles at many times the cost.

Nor was there any mention of the fact that the government was embarking on a reckless experiment with Britain's electricity supply, leading us down a path which will almost certainly massively increase the price of electricity while exposing us to real risks of prolonged power cuts.

Thus, despite the confidence of the Climate Intelligence Unit, once people do find out what "net zero" entails, and in particular the degree of deprivation and discomfort which will be forced upon them, they may find that support for "net zero" evaporates.

The name of the game, though, is to get the policy entrenched, before people have a chance to mobilise opposition. As a sign of the times, though, our petition has topped the previous petition asking for a referendum, which only reached 7,628 signatures in the six months leading to 6 September 2020.

We sailed past this figure at about 3pm yesterday and went on to finish at over 8,000, a mere seven days after the launch, with no media exposure or support from any of the big hitters. We have high hopes of reaching the first hurdle of 10K signatures, whence the battle will start anew.

Meanwhile, there's always Ben Pile's latest episode of #FLOP26 to watch, this one on Climategate.

Also published on Turbulent Times.

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