Sunak’s trip north shows the Conservatives are now the political wing of the fossil fuel industry - Vladimir McTavish
Rishi Sunak was announcing 100 new licences for oil and gas exploration in the UK. At the same time, he was stressing the importance of carbon capture and storage, as if this was some brilliant new plan that he had just come up with and for which we should personally take the credit.
While no frame time was given on the implementation of carbon capture and storage, most climate experts will tell you it should have been done at least two years ago.
In environmental terms, the PM had just been filmed unsuccessfully chasing a runaway horse and then holding a press conference to announce that he had locked the stable door.
At the same time, it has emerged that some Tory ministers are considering restricting councils’ powers to impose 20mph speed limits and that Keir Starmer and senior Labour figures are pressuring London Mayor Sadiq Khan to roll back his extension of the Ultra Low Emissions Zone. Why are they doing this?
The same two reasons for which all bad politicians take decisions, votes and money. It is surely no coincidence that an IT company owned by Sunak’s father-in-law landed a 1.5 billion deal with BP, in May leading to the Conservatives being labelled “the political wing of the fossil fuel industry”.
The backtracking by Labour and the Tories on these issues is a classic example of government the wrong way round. You don’t get rid of legislation on health and safety because you think there are more votes in the petrol head community.
It’s a sad fact about democracy that people can and do vote for very selfish reasons. Don’t get me wrong, I like democracy. It’s just you can’t always count on the voting system to deliver the right result. Let’s not forget that Adolf Hitler won an election in Germany in the 1930s.
Indeed, one needs only to look back as recently as 2016 when large parts of the western world completely lost the plot.
In June of that year, millions of us in Scotland looked on aghast as the people of England and Wales took the seemingly suicidal option of demanding to leave the European Union.
While lots of us thought this was bonkers, we consoled ourselves with the thought that human beings couldn’t get any crazier than that. Until the November, when the USA elected Trump as President.
By the back end of 2016, I had completely lost faith in the human race to vote sensibly. Thank goodness Andy Murray won BBC Sports Personality of the Year. That single-handedly restored my faith in democracy. Going by 2016’s voting patterns, I had fully expected Oscar Pistorius to win the award.
However, if the polls are correct, the PM’s appeal to good old British selfishness would appear not to be working. Even the software I’m using to write the column seems to agree.
Every time I try to type in the word Sunak into my laptop, the autocorrect changes his name to “Sunk”. It really is remarkable how intuitive modern technology has become.