I have studiously avoided commenting on the career of my successor as an MP, Ed Balls. But his performance whilst co-hosting Good Morning Britain (GMB) the other day demands a break in this self-imposed iron discipline. Balls it must be remembered only just squeaked in to the newly created Morley and Outwood constituency in 2010, and so strong was his 1,000 majority then that within five years of living in a self-delusional fog he lost the seat to a Tory. I refer to a ‘self-delusional fog’ since in his own political memoir Balls confessed he had unquestioningly assumed he would retain the seat, so spent the election campaign being Gordon Brown’s great enthuser on the nationwide stage, thus forgetting that the first lesson in politics is to secure your own base. Ever since the constituency has been represented by a somewhat odd Tory (but aren’t they all a bit odd these days?) and poor Ed has now refashioned himself as a ‘TV Personality’ or celebrity if you will. This is a sad way to go for a once senior politician. It reminds me of the Hamiltons.
Still, given the task of trying to emulate the success of Piers Morgan in stirring up click bait, Ed decided to challenge a climate change activist on GMB with the charge that disrupting a fossil fuelled public event was equivalent to terrorism. Thus some slight inconvenience for F1 racegoers is on a par with the Bataclan massacre. One wonders what other balls will spout forth. Perhaps Emily Davison was a terrorist for throwing herself in the path of the King’s horse? At what point did Nelson Mandela cease to be a terrorist to become a saintly peace-loving grandfather? Balls’ inability to grasp the climate change agenda doesn’t surprise me. He and his mentor’s philosophy was (sometimes) to talk the talk but not to walk the walk, not least when there were more important issues to deal with—such as ‘growing’ the economy with such necessities as an extra runway at Heathrow.
The minor inconveniences the public may be put to because of climate activism is as nothing compared to what climate change is already bringing. Ed no doubt would agree with Parliament declaring a ‘climate emergency’ but as we know there has been little or no action to back that up. So some people are getting frustrated with the do nowt brigade. So good luck to them (the activists). Whether their exact tactics will alter the public’s mind is another question. If I had much to do with it the activists’ efforts would be wholly focused on MPs—it is the complacency of MPs that prevents adequate action being taken. And their complacency is boostered by people like Balls who can’t be bothered to examine the case for activism. How long will it be before Ed and his ilk appear as useful idiots in Murdoch’s domain? If the money’s there . .
The fossil fuel industry know the game’s up, but they have been thrown a lifeline by the pandemic and now the Russian war on Ukraine. Everyday we are hearing how in order to combat rising prices new coal and gas will be essential. This is a kind of normality for fossil fuel energy suppliers, who will always sit on their filthy arses with a self-satisfied glow and say ‘we told you so.’ Against this industry's proven hegemony in politics, a handful of climate activists are deemed outsiders, and described by glib attention seeking has-beens as ‘terrorists.’ The real climate terrorists sit in boardrooms.
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