Radio 4’s news programmes are definitely hostile to the Green Party. Natalie Bennett was on this morning, being very sensible and articulate; Evan Davis was doing his best to make her sound naive and knitted-yoghurt.
He said first that cutting plastic bags and speed limits was not going to make much difference. I think she should have countered that one by pointing out that if everyone took responsibility for their consumption, we could make a hell of a difference, but she answered, sensibly enough, that the GP also had policies on bigger issues. Davis then asked what criteria (and here he stumbled over his singular and plural) the GP used to decide what was important enough to lessen our standard of living. That’s a bit of a long-winded description, but his question was long-winded, as well as being fatuous.
Dear Evan, our standard of living is unsustainable. If we do not tackle the enormous waste of electricity, plastic, metals and other resources – the WASTE, not the use – in 50 or 100 years’ time we won’t be talking about standard of living: we’ll be trying just to live.
Let’s liken it to food. At the moment, we’ve got an obesity problem, caused by too high a standard of consumer living (the unsustainable ubiquity of fast food outlets and the fat-arsed laziness of our lifestyles). Medicos say we’ve got to change our habits. Some would see that as a lessening of their standard of living: giving up hamburgers and daytime TV and (eugh!) taking exercise. But in the end, their lives will be better: they will be healthier – and be less of a burden on the rest of us, too – and probably happier.
Our consumption of stuff is like this. As Bennett said, we have lots of stuff and consume lots of fuel but we still have poverty, homelessness, unemployment, and poor mental and physical health. We may think that having lots of plastic trinkets and 24-hour electric lights bespeaks a high standard of living, but it may not. Evan, dear, you really have begged the question: you have assumed what a high standard of living is. (You should watch this BBC clip, indirectly suggesting lots about standards of living.)
Apparently Evan Davis went to Oxford. Perhaps he should use his highly expensive and elite education to think instead of smugly blabbing off populist platitudes. The Green Party is not full of pie-in-the-sky woollies. It’s the most realistic of the parties, because none other is prepared to face up to the precipice that we’re hurling ourselves towards.