Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Vote for the POP

Lloyds of London after its refit following a POP victory

I normally avoid talking about politics, but seeing as there is an election here in two days and everyone else is talking about nothing else, well ...

All indications are that there won't be an overall winner after voting takes place on May 7th. The Conservatives seem to have managed to convince voters that the jerry-rigged GDP figures are real and that an economic recovery is underway (it is, if you're in the top echelons) and are hammering home the message that Labour would ruin everything if they got into power. The Labour Party are being forced to dance to the same tune, having sold themselves out under Blair and Brown, and are a sad caricature what they once stood for i.e. a fair deal for the working classes.

In the middle we have the probable king-makers the Liberal Democrats - who are also a sad parody of what they once stood for - making all three main parties more or less the same in their untrammelled pursuit of economic growth, jobs, opportunities yadda yadda yadda.

Then we have the other potential king-makers the Scottish National Party, who are not just popular in Scotland but also south of the border. Now that the penny has dropped that they were suckered by Westminster during the recent referendum to quit the UK, most Scots have dropped the Labour party quicker than a flaming caber.

Next up is UKIP - the United Kingdom Independence Party - lead by the charismatic rogue Nigel Farage - the mere mention of whose name can have most liberals frothing at the mouth and screaming 'fascist'. UKIP seem to be getting a lot of support from the disenfranchised who have been manipulated by the right wing media into thinking that waves of immigrants are bleeding the country dry. UKIPpers tend to be ruddy faced, beer-loving folks who 'aren't afraid to speak the truth'.

And finally, traditionally in last place (if mentioned at all), is the Green Party. In a blind survey of policies people picked the Green's policies as being best. If the election was decided purely on policy then the Green's would win it. Alas, we have an unfair system, which means they will only get a seat or two in parliament, even if they do get up to 10% of the vote. I've always voted Green - I even have an election poster up in my window (along with lots of other Green posters in the centre of Penzance where I live) - as all the other parties have psychopathic policies, in my humble opinion. For some reason I was picked to attend a lunch with the leader Natalie Bennett, a couple of months back. I can report that she is entirely unlike most other politicians, and actually seems to have her head screwed on.

Still, the Greens are probably only enjoying their modest current success because they have become by default the only left wing party there is. They have many good policies, but it's somewhat dismaying to see them pledge to build half a million new houses in a country that's already way over-built. Last week, I noticed, Natalie Bennett put a link on social media to an article pointing out that up to a fifth of all species on Earth faces imminent extinction. She immediately faced angry and hostile comments from Green supporters telling her to 'get a grip' and 'talk about real issues such as jobs'. So it goes, a paler shade of green.

At least they are the only party that has mentioned environmental issues in this election.

Incidentally, the local Liberal Democrat MP rang my doorbell last week and harangued me for displaying said Green Party poster. "They're all hypocrites who take skiing holidays in Canada," was what he said. He went on to portray himself as a true guardian of all that is green and good. "Why," I asked him "did he vote in favour of fracking in the House of Commons?" He was a bit stumped by this but hastily explained that fracking is "kind of like geothermal" which somehow makes it 'green'.

So, the bottom line is that there probably won't be an overall winner as such. Coalition horse trading will probably go on for a while. The bottom bottom line is that we are entering into a period of political paralysis symptomatic of the peaking of energy supplies and the ongoing deflation of the (real) economy. Cheap oil gave everyone a few decades to be happy. Elaborate political structures could be created and everyone seemed to get their share of the cake. Sure, there was a bit of moaning about this or that government or party, but generally everyone got to chow down on the benefits of a techno consumer economy awash in credit and fiat money.

But that model is now broken. Anyone with any wealth in this country now knows that the only way they can hold onto it is by throwing those less well off under the bus. That's why, when I drive around some of the nearby villages here, all the tacky and ugly houses have Conservative placards stuck in the lawns next to their fake Chinese lions. These people see a massive and bloated welfare state (in Cornwall, the second poorest region in western Europe, four out of five families are on benefits) that needs to be cut back down to size. They see the cash-sucking National Health System as a threat that needs to be neutralised and they want the 'scroungers' to be taught a lesson and forced to work.

On the other team, Labour supporters want a continuation of welfare provision - even if, confusingly, their party also seems intent on austerity policies and clamping down on immigration.

So, we have gridlock. We'll be the new Greece before too long. Won't that be fun? To that end I've decided to form my own political party - the Peak Oil Party (tongue firmly in cheek).

The POP's slogan will be:

'Vote for us for a slightly less worse future than the others will give you'.

Its main policies include:

- All remaining North Sea oil reserves will be dedicated to building a national renewable energy sector
- Car journeys to be rationed to one day a week per driver
- All chemical pesticides and herbicides to be phased out over a ten year period
- All immigration controls will be lifted - people will be free to come or leave as they please (many will choose to leave)
- All able-bodied unemployed people to be recruited to a Land Army or face starvation
- All people working in the finance industry to be recruited to the Land Army. The City of London to be converted into a large-scale vertical agriculture experimentation zone
- All workers will be given two minutes to describe their job to selected panels of six-year-olds. If, after that, a majority on the panel do not understand the function of your job it will be liquidated and you will be placed in the Land Army. Bribery with sweets/toys will be punishable by permanent job allocation of Gong Farmer
- Defence budget to be cut by 90%, including a phase out of nuclear weapons
- All gold bullion held by the Bank of England to be sold to China or swapped for solar panels and bicycles
- The Royal Family and all their possessions to be sold to America or exchanged for cattle feed and LNG
- All corporate farms, grouse shooting moors, golf courses and stately homes to be nationalised with 50% given over to intensive organic agriculture and 50% allowed to revert back to wilderness
- All airports to be shut down after the last corporate jet has fled the country
- Everyone who successfully completes three years in the Land Army having amassed a variety of agricultural skills to be freely given an acre of arable land, a bicycle, a cow and a sum of money with which to build a dwelling of their own design
- After a stabilisation period of ten years all forms of national politics to be liquidated. Great Britain to be renamed The Britlands and broken up into small autonomous bio-regions not worth invading

Who knows, if I can raise a deposit in the next two days POP might be in with a chance. On the other hand ...


  1. I´d like to volunteer for the Land Army! I also like the dual significance of last P in POP...

    1. Report to the farm tomorrow morning at six to collect your hoe.

  2. Martin ParkinsonMay 6, 2015 at 9:14 AM

    "[lib dem MP] hastily explained that fracking is "kind of like geothermal"

    Aaargh! (Bangs head on desk)

    1. Yeah, it's all energy coming from underground, innit?

    2. Martin ParkinsonMay 7, 2015 at 9:16 AM

      Indeed. He probably had a garbled memory of someone explaining the "hot dry rocks" form of geothermal to him.

      This does indeed involve fracturing rocks and injection of water - to extract heat directly. So yeah, " a bit like" fracking. A very small "bit". And only one (and rather experimental at that, iirc) of many forms of geothermal. Gah.

      It's the sheer airheaded attitude that makes me bang my head - almost "energy - oooh dear, that means *science* - oh someone else can do the work of understanding *that*"

  3. There's always Mebyon Kernow. who have a more sensible policy on the environment and decentralisation than most:

    The Principles of Politics Party already has the appreviation PoP are standing in one constituency in Cornwall.

    1. That's true. They'll likely get my vote as things progress.

  4. Hi Jason,

    It is gridlock here too, often with a coalition of minor parties holding the balance of power in the Senate. Fun times! Still that might not be a bad thing as the government couldn't pass the budget legislation last year and that was without doubt one of those most unfair budgets I'd ever seen. With energy per capita declining year in year out, well the only way for the top end of town to get more stuff is to stick it to the less well off. Incidentally, back in 1975, the Queens representative sacked the federal government here for not being able to pass the budget legislation, amongst other things.

    Your observation about the blind tests was an interesting one. Pity most people rely on emoting rather than considered thought - but then we are programmed that way (most of us anyway - present company excluded of course). Tyrants can manipulate populations that are used to emoting rather than thinking. Just saying...

    I see the same dramas playing out in all sorts of places and the slow deaths of the community groups here is simply a mirror to the bigger plays.

    Nice work with the fracking comment too. Very clever and quick thinking. Sometimes great one liners pop into existence an hour after they would have been useful! hehe!

    Good luck and my gut feel is that it doesn't really matter. It is a form or even a charade. I genuinely suspect that there is so much dispersed power that very little actual positive response to the challenges of the future without some sort of flash point being reached.

    And thank you too for your well wishes and I hope that you had a lovely Beltane.



    1. Hi Chris. You may be right - very little change will happen as a result of this election - our problems are just too big to be tackled in any meaningful way right now.

      One thing I have learned is to keep my mouth mostly shut. I won't be drawn (much) into talking about politics with people I know, such as friends. It's not worth falling out over and some people are getting really emotional about it all. Some people are primed for an aggressive response.

      As for the politician and the fracking comment - it was all I could think of saying to him. Here's what happened, and some comments, as posted on Facebook by me:

      "So I just had Andrew George MP at my door asking me why I had a Green party poster up. He said 'some greens take five long haul holiday flights a year' and that a vote for them is a vote for the Tories. I asked him why he voted in favour of fracking and he said something about it being 'related' to geothermal energy. "I'm the only candidate who cares about badgers" he said, a bit desperately. I told him I didn't give much of a shit about badgers. He looked confused ..."

    2. Hi Jason. Blessed are the badgers! Hehe!

      Politics is a difficult subject, which I mostly avoid. Some people are very persistent and curious though and you're right many are spoiling for a fight about it. Always we look for others to blame for the mess that we find ourselves in. Politician is not an enviable job you know? Down under we had Peter Garret the ex-lawyer and front-man for the very outspoken and successful punk band Midnight Oil. No one could doubt his views or sincerity. He entered politics with the Labour party here, rising to the position of Minister within the government and then ... nothing ... He should have joined the Greens. The larger point I reckon out of that lesson is that: to enter the system, is to be consumed by it.

      Oh yeah, just remembered, unwanted political conversations - they're sort of like someone dumping rubbish on your wood lot, are they not? - I often defuse the situation by pointing out that the differences between the parties doesn't seem to be as great as they would like you to believe. Interchangeable is a good word to use in such situations.

      Then if they persist with the conversation - and some can't help themselves as I feel that they have a simmering anger beneath the surface - I sneakily redirect their anger by asking them, OK, so what has your preferred party done for you recently. That tends to stop them dead in their thought tracks and gets them all fired up at someone else. Seriously, venting at me is a waste of breath! :-)! I’d much prefer to put their energy into working the forests here; it would be a better outcome for the ecosystem.

      Personally, my favourite though is getting cornered by some Greenpeace collector when I’m walking in the city. I now tell them – you’re part of the problem you know. That really gets them fired up. At the last encounter, I said to the collector: look around you and try to imagine how you could possibly fuel all of this (we were in the middle of the city) using renewable energy and then he said to me: “I feel sorry for you”. I walked off at that point as there didn’t seem to be much point to further discussion.

      Cheers. Chris

  5. A bit of an antidote to the current spectacle, thanks for this and also for the book. A sense of humor would seem to be the minimum necessary to get through the coming years.

  6. Is the fact that all the major political parties have merged into one homogenous mass testament to the fact that the majority of people only care about the economy and holding onto their insignificant piece of it, or have we been blindsided by selfish corporate requirements and their media?
    I favour the former, personally.

    1. I think as soon as all the goodies stop turning up in local stores, when a critical mass are unemployed and when the electricity and water stop flowing then a lot of people will be in for a rude awakening.

  7. - The Royal Family and all their possessions to be sold to America or exchanged for cattle feed and LNG -

    I believe I speak for my fellow Americans when I say, "We're full up on Royal Familys right now, but thanks anyway!"

    I also vote Green Party - frack, I'm president of the local ..... a fact which may go far in explaining our lack of success. I will be watching the PoP however, and at first sign of life, I'll be there with my own hoe.


    1. Surely there's room for just one more royal family? This lot is a full set of kleptomaniacs, with everything from senile gun-toting racists to cute little babies with designer onesies. And they come with free horses and Rolls Royces.

  8. "The Royal Family and all their possessions to be sold to America or exchanged for cattle feed"

    I'm with you even if I can't vote but need you do this to me? I don't want them and the people already here who think they are royalty need no encouragement. Couldn't they just be sent to islands and allowed to run the gift shops? Bermuda will work for a start but please don't be starting an international incident and show some accountability for the externalities of your culture. You started this royal thing not us. Buck up.

    My job can pass the six year old test la-de-da-de-dah-de-dah !!

    1. I've often entertained the idea of rounding up royals and celebrities and putting them all on an island together somewhere in the South Pacific ... it would be interesting to come back 1,000 years later and find out what kind of culture they have spawned.

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