One of the many tragic side effects of Nick Clegg’s brief rise to prominence is the havoc it has wreaked on Zac Goldsmith’s election prospects. The beaming, handsome, tree hugging gazillionaire now stands about as much as chance of winning his campaign seat Richmond Park as a baby snaildarter under a Chinese hydro-electric project. My spies in the borough report that his Lib Dem attack dog rival Susan Kramer is making all the running: (Hat tip: Guy Walters)
Richmond Park (LibDem). We have received a Susan Kramer leaflet almost every day for the last three months. Canvassers every weekend. Clegg spent all of Saturday at Kingston Hospital. Not much sign of Zac Goldsmith.
Some people, I know, will feel very sad about this. My famously heterosexual chum Rod Liddle, for example, has been known to talk about the golden Zac in the kind of terms Oscar Wilde might have reserved for Bosie. But speaking as a natural conservative, I couldn’t be more thrilled because in truth a man like Zac Goldsmith should never have been allowed anywhere near the Tory candidates’ list.
It’s not Goldsmith’s vast inherited wealth or the questions over his tax status that bother me. I’m all for people being rich. What I can never forgive in a rich person, though, is when he conspires with the state to pull up the drawbridge so that other people can’t get rich too. This, I’m quite sure, has never been Goldsmith’s intention. But it is an inevitable by-product of his green philosophy – which is essentially a form of Marxism in environmentalism’s garb.
Sure he talks a good game about microgeneration, feed-in-tariffs and Green jobs:
This transition is already happening. In the US, President Obama has promised to spend $150 billion over 10 years on green investment, creating 5m “green collar” jobs. South Korea, Japan and Spain are making similar moves, and in the private sector blue-chip companies have accepted that disregarding the environment is increasingly a financial risk. It’s not just about preparing for the worst, or doing “the right thing”. The transition itself will open windows of unprecedented opportunity. Who can doubt that, in the years to come, clean technology success stories will dominate The Sunday Times Rich list?
In most sectors, we can already see the alternatives, and they work: microgeneration of energy in Germany; combined heat and power plants in Copenhagen; zero-waste policies in Japan and New Zealand; regeneration of fish stocks in Central America; our own Eurostar. In the future, we will see “smart meters” that save money by letting customers know when electricity is cheaper in the day. These meters will be part of a “smart grid” to intelligently co-ordinate how we use new renewable power sources, to regulate supply and demand, and to help reduce greenhouse emissions. If we took the best of today in every sector and made it the norm tomorrow, we’d be halfway or further to our goal.
All of which sounds great till you look into it and find that for every Green job created by government intervention another 2.2 are lost in the real economy; that solar power has been a complete disaster for Germany; that the smart grid is never going to work.
It’s here, though that he gives the game away:
More than that, the government’s purely carbon-related approach does little to address our rapid shift from an era of abundance towards one of scarcity — a situation caused by a combination of huge population growth, insatiable human appetite for consumption, and an ever-shrinking resource base. Rational people know that, without a big shift, we are going to hit a wall. Yet that terrifying truth has almost no bearing on actual policy decisions. Why?
This – though politely phrased, sweetly expressed – is the philosophy of green Marxists everywhere. We must reduce consumption! Our resources are finite! Peak oil! The limits of growth! Government must act to create a new economic paradigm!
There will always be room in the Conservative movement for conservationists. As natural countrymen, sportsmen, animal lovers we’ve always been good at conserving our landscape, nurturing our environment. What we could do without is well-meaning rich kids plotting to wipe out the economy because of a problem that only exists in their pretty, spoilt, guilt-tripping heads. Their place is with the other unelectables: in the Green Party.