No shortage of money for death – Never enough money for life
Yesterday – to much media frenzy – the Prime Minister announced a £4 billion ‘Green Industrial Revolution’: “Powered by the wind turbines of Scotland and the North East, propelled by electric cars made in the Midlands and advanced by tech developed in Wales, my 10 point plan will drive forward a Green Industrial Revolution, creating jobs across the country.” It’s a beguiling vision from the Minister for the Union.
Setting aside the language – the industrial revolution is the primary historical legacy of our climate crisis – it is scattered with massive issues and contradictions: green ‘nuclear power’; a return to CCS; and an obsession with pipe-end solutions and fixes, it is a techno-fantasists dream. But splashing what sounds like large sums of money and mesmerising technology is always a winner.
But today – to put this all in some rather grim context – the same Prime Minister announced: “The defence of the realm is the first duty of government. We are investing an extra £16.5 billion in defence to end the era of retreat, strengthen our Armed Forces, and extend British influence as a force for good in the world”.
As Johnson’s PR dept reel off the Military Bingo – “Bravest of the Brave” – “Admired throughout the world” – here he is Churchillian, a War Leader, a job creator. As billions of pounds of medical contracts are dolled out to friends and acquaintances like sweeties Johnson has re-branded the language of recovery for military purposes.
If the military spending and propaganda puts No 10s ‘Green Industrial Revolution’ in perspective, so too does the reality that the funding is a fraction of the UK Govt £27bn road building plan, or that Germany is spending 27 billion on its green stimulus.
This is a massive expansion of the military capacity of the British State in a time of peace and pandemic. It is a brutal act and a dereliction of duty. It sits alongside a sort of smear of greenwash in which shiny technology saves the day, a myth that capital has been clinging onto for decades rather than facing the truth. As the writer Alistair McIntosh notes:
“The Daily Telegraph lays bare the vapid libertarian psychology of “to have is to be” – reluctantly accepting the electric car as “our best hope of saving the consumer society” from “an army of puritanical, elitist, neo-luddite, collectivist eco-warriors.” The paper writes: “Innovation is our best hope of saving capitalism from hard-Left eco radicals, but this is a gamble too far.”