THE FIRST shock of my week came when it had barely started: at 8.50 am last Sunday to be precise. It was then that I learned that, had I lived 500 years ago, I would have been burned at the stake for heresy.
This gem of info, which caused me to come close to cutting my throat as I enjoyed (for me at least) a late morning shave, came on BBC Radio Four from a man for whom I have a great respect (and perhaps not a little envy) the Australian writer and TV presenter Clive James.
The future of the Dales?
James is one of those rare media personalities who can make people laugh by wrapping up some piercing insights into human existence in a coating of humour. He seems to understand that people can swallow some very bitter pills if they come with a sugary coating.
He was addressing one of the great issues of our day, global warming. And the reason why I nearly decapitated myself was not the thought of my fiery demise (even zealots don’t go that far these days) but the fact that James was on the side of the 21st Century heretics like me who view the entire politico/science bandwagon with deep suspicion.
The case that the globe is warming up due entirely to mankind’s activities in burning fossil views is not proved, he said, and there as a strong body of informed opinion which takes the opposite view. But their views were not being listened too because they represented a modern day heresy.
In Bloody Mary’s time, the heresies involved religious opinions and people prepared to go against Queen Mary’s Catholic views ended up at the stake. Today, anyone who dares speak out against the global warming consensus is treated with the same contempt as Holocaust deniers and, certainly in scientific or political circles, is likely to have his or her career go up in figurative flames.
As a global warming heretic – I believe we are getting warmer but that is part of a natural cycle which has been repeated again and again over the millennia – I worry about this because certain politicians are using it as an excuse to impose on people in general - and country folk in particular - decisions which would be totally unacceptable without the warming scare (“voodoo” is perhaps a better word).
And it was in this sinister vein of revelations this week that more shocks followed the Clive James radio piece.
The Government’s new strategic planning quango, which has the power to overturn locally made planning decisions made by locally elected councillors, is due to announce its first decisions any day now. When this body was first announced, it was supposed to concentrate on truly huge planning issues like new airports, motorways or power stations.
But I learned this week that this remit has been extended to wind farms and there is at this very moment an appeal going though the system for five massive, German-built wind turbines near Skipton which would dominate some of the finest scenery in the Yorkshire Dales, the Forest of Bowland and the Ribble Valley for 40 miles around.
That scheme, like dozens of others scattered throughout rural England, have been vociferously opposed by local country folk and been rejected by their local councils. I fear that those objections will come to nothing if Gordon Brown’s big, clunking planning fist comes down.
The case that the globe is warming up due entirely to mankind’s activities in burning fossil views is not proved...
But the week’s bad news did not end there for into the public limelight stepped another of Brown’s previously unknown semi-official advisory bodies, the Green Fiscal Commission, (GFC) set up to dream up new “green taxes” i.e. to find new stealth taxes that had somehow escaped Brown’s beady eye when he was Chancellor of the Exchequer.
Its first recommendation was a true shocker: a tax which could add £3,300 to the cost of a new car. This was to be justified on the grounds that the polluter must pay and all car owners are filthy polluting pigs. The GFC then followed up with plans to add £800 to our household energy bills – money which would no doubt go towards buying more foreign built, highly subsidised, inefficient windfarm eyesores.
Does no-one in Westminster or Whitehall know that there are thousands of villages in rural England that have no public transport at all? That thousands luckier ones have perhaps one or two buses a day? And that hundreds of those villages no longer have a post office or shop thanks to this Government’s massive closures?
Millions of country folk are already in so-called “fuel poverty” because they depend for heating on oil-fired systems: there are no gas mains for miles. To live in the countryside without a car is virtually impossible, as hundreds of thousands of isolated, lonely and forgotten pensioners already know.
These are all schemes dreamed up by members of the chattering classes in North London, who have a tube station at the end of the street and a taxi passing their front door every few minutes. Unless, of course, they are riding round in chauffeur-driven Government Jaguars at our expense.
Why should they care? There will be no windfarms built in the towns and cities where the Labour vote is concentrated: they would be too noisy and intrusive for townies. And who gives a fig about stripping the pride from those country pensioners who have to cadge lifts from friends or relatives to get to the nearest post office to cash their pensions? They probably vote Tory anyway so let’s rip ‘em off while we still have the chance. And blame it on global warming.