There’s a movement in the UK that is trying to block the building of essential new council housing. It is also agitating to stop the opening of a new coal mine, which would deprive working men and women of a good, honest way to make a living.
What is this movement? A neo-Thatcherite organisation, perhaps, hell-bent on finishing Maggie’s task of putting coal miners out of work and shrinking social housing? A bunch of aristocrats and toffs, maybe, who are sick of their leafy living areas being swarmed by council-house residents and the precious countryside being blighted by such ghastly things as mines and factories?
Nope, it’s environmentalists. It’s greens. It’s those eco-warriors who pose as super-progressive and claim to care about people. Right now, these supposedly planet-loving agitators are calling for less council housing and fewer jobs for coal miners, and we really couldn’t have asked for a better illustration of the elitism that lurks at the heart of the green movement.
Islington council in London is currently trying to build a six-storey block that would provide 25 ‘desperately needed’ council homes. But is is being blocked by eco-protesters who — get this — want to protect a few old trees that stand on the proposed site for the block.
Some of the middle-class crusties who have been digging tunnels to block the construction of the HS2 railway line have now turned their attention to the evils of council housing. They have dug tunnels at the site of Islington’s new council block in order to save ‘seven mature trees’. Their tunnels was discovered by police yesterday. The greens have been living on the site for four months.
Just think about that. These people are so determined to block the construction of vital homes for less well-off people that they are prepared to dig tunnels and live outside for months on end in the freezing cold. All to save some trees. Guys, there are millions of trees in the country. What there aren’t millions of, sadly, are good-quality council homes for people who need them.
If you think old trees are more important than new homes for poor people, then your moral compass is broken. No question. Let’s call this protest what it is: a backward, regressive assault on opportunities for the less well-off; a misanthropic elevation of the rights of trees (!) over the rights of people.
Not content with blocking the building of council homes, greens are currently also trying to prevent the construction of a new coking coal mine in Cumbria. Cumbria county council granted planning permission at the end of last year for the mine that is due to be built near Whitehaven, but it is now wobbling following complaints from Greenpeace and other vocal eco-warriors. Shamefully, Boris Johnson, ever keen to burnish his green credentials, has failed to give solid backing to the mine.
This mine would create 500 well-paid manual jobs. That is 500 men and women, 500 families, whose lives could be transformed by the building of this mine. But they don’t matter, it seems. The mine would also bring £160m in private investment to the local area, which would also have a transformative impact. But that doesn’t matter either, clearly.
No, all that matters is the cult of environmentalism. All that matters is the fantasy battle of ‘saving the planet’ from mankind’s toxic ways. Forget jobs for the working classes and council homes for the poor — we just need trees and greenery and the ability to impress all the bigwigs who will attend the next United Nations climate change conference in November.
These two stories confirm something I have thought for a long time: environmentalism is objectively anti-working-class. Its obsession with shrinking the ‘human footprint’, with reining in production and construction and economic growth, leads to fewer jobs for working people and a shrunken economic future in which society will have less leeway to support the populace, especially those who are struggling.
It isn’t surprising that at every green demo I’ve ever observed most of the attendees have been quite plummy and often privately educated too. That’s because contemporary environmentalism has become a kind of neo-aristocracy, a movement of the privileged who just don’t like modernity very much.
It’s time more of us, including more people in politics, took a more humanist approach. Council homes are more important than trees. Well-paid manual jobs are more important than whatever infinitesimal amount of pollution one mine would cause. The needs of working-class communities are more important than the upper middle-classes’ feelings of exhaustion with 21st-century capitalism. Where’s the leader who will say these things?