This is not the time to suck up to dictators and psychopaths
I am deeply ashamed by the Prime Minister’s current visit to Saudi Arabia to visit the crown prince. It is the act of a government that has completely lost its moral compass.
The Crown Prince was responsible the 81 executions in March, in complete defiance of all international standards of justice and humanity. He was responsible for the grotesque and vile murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi and for being the major sponsor and perpetrator of the brutal on-going war in Yemen.
British Governments and particularly the Tory party are currently learning the price of appeasing the dictator Vladimir Putin over the past thirty years, accepting Russian donations into party coffers and sucking in billions of foreign currency because frankly without it, our balance of payments deficit would be appalling. Last year the deficit in goods and services was almost £140 billion. No wonder we have had to sell so many football clubs and mansions to oligarchs!
So now we are going cap in hand to another brutal, egotistical and psychopathic dictator.
For all these years, however, there has been an alternative: one of complete self-sufficiency in clean renewable energy. Every hour the sun gives our planet enough energy to satisfy global demands for a whole year! Every country in the world has the opportunity to be self-sufficient in clean, sustainable energy, whether from solar, wind, hydro, tidal or ground source energy.
There needn’t be any more wars fought over oil and gas supplies, nor need anyone be beholden to inhumane autocrats and kleptocrats, who hold us to ransom.
But the Conservative government has never adopted that vision. In 2015 it terminated its flagship Green Deal for Home insulation. It had been hailed as “transformational” and the “biggest home improvement programme since the second world war” by ministers when it was launched in 2013.
But in 2013, David Cameron performed his U turn on ecological policies and ordered his aids to “Get rid of all the green crap” (The Sun 21/11/2013).
As a result, in 2015, the government scrapped plans to make all new UK homes carbon neutral. The Zero Carbon Homes policy, first announced in 2006, was due to come into effect in 2016.
It would have ensured that all new dwellings would generate as much energy through renewable sources, such as wind or solar power as they would use in heating, hot water, lighting and cooking. Hundreds of thousands of homes would have been completely free of gas and electricity bills!
Then in 2021, just over six months after its launch, the government scrapped the Green Homes Grant scheme, which had been the centrepiece of Boris Johnson’s promise to ‘build back greener’.
The abandonment of this £1.5bn programme, which would have offered poorer households grants of up to £10,000 for insulation or low-carbon heating, leaves the UK without a plan for tackling one of the biggest sources of greenhouse gas.
Three years ago I visiting our MP in Parliament to ask her to support on-shore wind farms, but she refused to do so. Similarly, the awesome energy available to us from tidal power has been disregarded while virtually all incentives to homeowners to install solar panels were removed under the parsimonious ‘Smart Export Guarantee’ scheme.
If green policies had been pursued, we would be self-sufficient in energy now and no one would be exposed to the horrendous increases we now face.
But the pattern continues with members of your party now advocating a return to coal, fracking and more drilling in the North Sea – taking us backwards instead of forwards. It is a dismal record and one which is daily accelerating the effects of climate catastrophe as well as driving up the costs of energy in every home in the country.
There is much we need to learn from the experience of Covid, but far more needs to be learned from our experience of Vladimir Putin, and applied to every brutal dictator in the world, to whom we should never allow ourselves to be beholden. I just hope that the Prime Minister will not be visiting Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum of Dubai, next.
Edward Gildea 17th March 2022