You have to give it to the spinners at Number 10. You may or may not have noticed this weekend, or even cared, but the Government announced a ban on microbeads in cosmetics by 2017. But you may have also noticed the picture of a man with a very big penis and wondered what it has to do with climate change and microbeads. It is all about distraction theory.
This sounds like a cause for celebration. And indeed it was for everyone. Andrea ‘is climate change real?’ Leadsom (yes her from the leadership bid just 6 weeks ago) described this as part of “This government [being] committed to its promise to be the first generation ever to leave the environment in a better state than it inherited.”; whilst Greenpeace gave “credit to Theresa May’s government“; the Environmental Audit Committee was “pleased” and even the Daily Mail described it as “A victory for the Mail and our fragile planet.“. That was to name but a few lauding over this victory for the environment and the planet.
We can ignore the fact that this is simply a consultation and is yet to come into force or even be government policy. We can even ignore the fact that the cosmetic industry was set to undertake a voluntary ban by 2017 anyway with many companies already doing it. We can even skip the issue that it only tackles micro beads in soap and scrubbers but not in detergents and that it accounts for an utterly minuscule proportion of the plastics that animals, year in, year out, digest.
For this announcement was deliberately timed to hide the UK discomfort on much bigger elephants in the environmental room. There is absolutely no coincidence that this announcement was made on the day the Prime Minister was at a G20 summit where the two leading polluters agreed to ratify the Paris Accord to cut global emissions.
Why is this uncomfortable? Well for a start Britain has not ratified it and appears to be no where near putting it into the House of Commons to do so. It has no post Brexit plans to set out how it will go about reducing global warming gases Or any post Brexit plans on a whole host of things from clean beaches to PM10 particulate levels. It has just given massive sops to a fracking industry that will deliver millions more tonnes of CO2 emitting gas; cancelled solar and windfarm subsides that were desperately needed to get these fledgling industries off the ground; postponed Hinckley Point C which, whether you like nuclear or not, was the mainstay of the UK’s plans to reduce its CO2 output; stopped the cheap, but extremely successful if unsexy, home insulation programme; cut air passenger duty even whilst the airline industry still pays no tax on a drop of fuel it uses; agreed to renew a weapon that could wipe the entire human race out; froze petrol duties and scrapped the vehicle emissions duty on more polluting cars whilst still killing around 30,000 extra people with pollution every year. That is just to name but a few.
Yet, despite this utterly dreadful record over the last six or so years, there wasn’t a peep from a single hippie enviro group about the woeful, truly woeful, record of protecting the country and planet for the next generation of humans. Instead, with an age old sleight of hand of distraction theory or the dead cat strategy that worked with grammar schools just a few weeks back, PR spinners managed to hoodwink every last organisation into following a gimmick story that has almost no consequence on a day when any flower power activist with half a brain should have spotted this and gone hell for leather at the government for all its’ broken promises and planet destroying initiatives. Instead they all patted themselves on the back for a campaign that changed and achieved nothing that wasn’t already being achieved and allowed Ministers to bury the disaster that is British climate change policy in the very very very long grass.
Hippies – you have been well and truly hoodwinked.