Climate change dogged PMQs today.
‘We are at the eleventh hour to save the planet,’ announced Jeremy Corbyn grimly. The experts who warn of disaster have clearly caught the Labour leader’s ear.
‘Coastal flooding and crop failures could threaten political chaos,’ said Noel Brown, director of the UN Environment Programme. He added that a polar thaw could lift sea-levels by three feet within ten years.
Mind you, he was speaking in 1989 so today’s crisis may not be as serious as some like to claim. Corbyn moaned about the upcoming climate change conference in Glasgow which is suddenly leaderless. Ex-minister, Claire Perry, has stepped aside from her role as conference president. Recently she also stepped aside from her role as Claire Perry and assumed the job of being Claire O’Neill instead.
In emulation of her shifting loyalties, the Labour leader stood up for the former star of the Tory party. He quoted Perry/O’Neill with enthusiasm.
‘There has been a huge lack of leadership and engagement from this government,’ she said.
‘What could she mean?’ Corbyn added tartly.
‘Beyond satire,’ said Boris. He boasted that the Tories have led the world in forcing industry and households to ditch Big Oil.
Corbyn turned to the question of Perry/O’Neill’s successor. He repeated the rumour that David Cameron and William Hague have both been canvassed for the role. And both said no.
Really? Who could possibly have leaked this item of gossip? Consider its two purposes. First, it subtly trashes the status of the conference. Secondly, it advertises the fact that two of Boris’s predecessors are now engaged in idle and unfulfilling lives, far from the epicentre of power. Hague, the ex-wunderkind, crouches behind a stockpile of books scribbling notes for his next biography. Call Me Dave dozes the afternoons away in his timber beach hut. Neither bestrides the world stage.
Boris has been making mischief in the whisper-factory. And Corbyn unwittingly helped the PM to tease the two ageing has-beens who were once his leader.
It was hardly classic Boris today. His auto-pilot response to Corbyn’s grousing about climate change ended with the platitude, ‘all he will produce is a load of hot air.’
Once again he told the SNP to ‘get on with the day job’. His clash with their leader, Ian Blackford, nearly caught fire over the party’s name. Boris denounced the Nats as small-minded bigots eager to break up the Union.
‘There is only one party with nationalist in their name,’ he said.
Wrong, as Blackford pointed out. SNP stands for Scottish National Party.
‘The prime minister doesn’t even know the name of our party.’
Debates about parties using ‘national’ in their title always arouse the hope that Hitler’s National Socialists will be cited. But no one called anyone a Nazi today.
The most telling moment came when Jeremy Corbyn predicted that the government would miss its zero carbon target. The pencilled-in date of 2050 would be postponed, he said, until 2099. Why does that matter? Because it reveals the Green lobby’s defeatist mindset. Aggressive pessimism inspires them at all times. Every success provokes a fresh adventure in misanthropy. Within a few decades, the entire world’s transport and heating systems will be powered by renewables. Then the Greens will seek a new enemy to destroy. No agreement on the identity of this foe has yet been reached. That will soon change. It could be any one of us.