I had of late started to develop a sneaking regard for Michael Gove. It was getting quite worrying. I was thinking I might need to visit the doctor, or perhaps spend some time in the middle of a desert taking peyote and staring into face of the abyss.
The reason for this malady was Gove’s apparent role as a born again green. As a long standing member of the Green Party I agreed with his stance on Sheffield council’s tree felling program and his opposition to live animal exports, to give but two examples. Both seemed incongruous coming from an angel of darkness like Gove, but as a nice, inclusive, liberal tree-hugging Greenie, I was starting to admit to people that I actually agreed with MICHAEL BLOODY GOVE!
Thankfully though, his speech at the Tory Party conference today has blown away the green mist and reset my moral compass. I may have been temporarily blinded by the PR and the spin, but now I see him once more for what he is – a posturing, pompous, posing prat acting out yet another role in yet another ministerial position he’s completely unsuited for. As he himself commented in his own desperately lame opening banter, just some recycled rubbish looking to avoid the oblivion of landfill.
Watch Michael Gove’s shudderingly embarrassing attempt at humour:
In a speech where he referenced everyone from Benjamin Disraeli, Theodore Roosevelt, Margaret Thatcher and probably the cookie monster (I may have nodded off at that point) Gove expounded his love for the environment in such florid terms that I had to check he wasn’t wearing beads and a kaftan under the podium.
He of course threw plenty of brickbats in the direction of the EU; blaming them for destroying Britain’s green a pleasant land that he and his hippy friends in the cabinet certainly hadn’t been chewing up for profit as fast as the frackers, developers, and agrochemical industries could manage.
Before eulogising about such venerable former incumbents as climate change denier Owen Paterson, and the frankly environmentally-ignorant Andrea Leadsom, Gove went on to wax lyrical about ancient woodlands that he was desperate to protect. Presumably these were different woodlands to the one his government wanted to sell to developers almost as soon as they got into power.
Each of us has an attachment to a special part of this beautiful country” he opined “somewhere we call home or know as a haven of peace”. No doubt thinking of the many Tory supporters who are attached to quite a bit of it.
Then came the hammer blow :
And as Conservatives, as those whose love of country is rooted in love of home, we are instinctive defenders of beauty in the landscape, protectors of wildlife, friends of the earth. The first, and still the most ambitious, green party in this country is the Conservative Party.
A claim that the actual Green Party co-leaders Caroline Lucas and Jonathan Bartley absolutely ripped the p*ss out of:
— The Green Party (@TheGreenParty) October 2, 2017
At this point I had pretty much dissolved into alternate bouts of laughter, eye-gouging and head banging, so couldn’t quite tell if his nose had grown any longer after such a monumental display of cynical, self-deluded hypocrisy. Not only slipping in the FOE reference but also laying claim to the name of a party whose only connection with them is the word ‘conservation’. Something that the Tories have perverted into a cult of anachronism with about as much concern for the actual environment as Donald Trump has for polite dinner conversation. The addition of “and leaving the European Union gives us the chance to secure a special prize – a Green Brexit” was just pure Gove, in all his moon-faced, flappy eared, swivel-eyed glory. I bet he was really proud of that bit.
I couldn’t disagree with all of it though. Apart from the aforementioned areas of concurrence there was his announcement of stiffer jail sentences for animal abusers announcing that the Conservatives will:
take the tough action necessary to deal with those whose callousness or greed inflicts pain and suffering on innocent creatures
He went on to expound his belief that :
when we face deliberate, calculating and sadistic behaviour, we need to deploy the full force of the law to show we will not tolerate evil
That might come as a shock to many of his government colleagues, not least the aforementioned Ms Leadsom, whose hunting chums were recently outed for chasing down a fox with the intention of allowing their dogs to rip it to pieces in direct contravention of the Hunting Act. No doubt he passed Andrea’s name to the appropriate authorities just as soon as he left the podium, deftly tackling her to the ground as she made her futile attempt to evade his righteous clutches.
One must also wonder if, having just announced a huge increase in the culling of badgers with no scientific or empirical evidence that there’s actually any point to it (apart from placating farmers), Gove might also be slapping the handcuffs on himself by the end of the evening. If not for that, perhaps his own part in the destruction of our bee population by opposing the EU ban on Neonicotinoids should earn him a spell in chokey.
As always, Gove was desperate to steer the whole thing towards his main preoccupation of blaming everything on the EU. There was more of the usual blah blah blah about taking back control and the common agricultural policy, something that gave huge handouts to many farmers now looking nervously towards the Brexit door. And of course the usual claims about how we’ll be able to fish our own waters again with fleets of ruddy faced fishermen who even now seem to forget how they are some of the largest recipients of EU aid in the country and have themselves rubbished claims that leaving the EU will increase fishing quotas
There was the obligatory reference that grand old deity of brexit Sir James Dyson and his plans to make cleaner green electric vehicles. No doubt to be built in the far east like much of the rest of his over-priced, over-hyped, pseudo innovative techno-twonk.
Finally a smattering of guff about how the ban on plastic supermarket bags have somehow reduced the amount of plastic in the oceans in the year or so it’s been in force and there you have it. He hadn’t so much lost the plot by the end of it as buried himself in it and pulled the daisies over his head.
Overall it was hogwash which was kind of appropriate given a speech he had previously made at a fringe event dealing with an issue much more appropriate to a minister of his stature – pig’s ears. Yes, apparently oblivious to the tsunami of jokes he was inviting, he really did make a speech about selling pigs ears to China somehow linking this yet again to the EU. I’m not sure if pig’s ears are a major export, but he seemed to think so. I suppose it’s a step up from pig sperm.
Quite why the Tories repeatedly try to wrap themselves in the green flag is beyond me. We all know they’re the nasty party and they really don’t give a crap about this stuff. I’m not even sure if Gove really believed it and judging by the half-hearted applause from the less than half filled auditorium, his audience weren’t really buying it either.
The Tories confuse care for the countryside with how much they can make out of it or build on it. Care for wildlife with how much of it they can shoot or sell of it, and care for the environment as how much they can get away with polluting. Gove’s speech was yet another example of a Tory making grand claims for things they have no intention of addressing. As with Theresa May and many of his other colleagues, they seem to think that merely saying that they care about something is enough. They don’t actually have to DO anything about any of it.
There’s only one Green Party in England and Wales and it’s the one with the credentials and the membership to prove it. Much as we’re flattered by their aspiration to emulate us, the Tories can leave the environmental and social justice stuff to us and get back to what they’re best at – enriching the wealthy, demonising the poor, dispossessing the disadvantaged and blaming everything on migrants and the EU.
The Tories about as far from being Green as it’s possible to be. They’re a badger culling, buzzard shooting, pesticide promoting, fox ripping, fossil fuel funding, woodland flogging, ice cap melting bunch of complete fracking hunts-people and wheeling Gove the goblin out to say otherwise isn’t fooling anyone.
If you want green vote Green!
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