Canadian journalist Donna Laframboise. Former National Post & Toronto Star columnist, past vice president of the Canadian Civil Liberties Association. New posts: Mondays & Wednesdays.
UK Labour Party veteran says climate policies that hurt the poor must be abandoned.
At age 82, Bernard Donoughue has been a member of the UK Labour Party for six decades. A year ago, it was my great pleasure to have dinner with him in London. At one point, when the conversation turned to wartime rationing, he mentioned that the family into which he was born had been of such modest means that rationing was a blessing. It gave them access to meat they wouldn’t have had otherwise.
During his long career, Donoughue worked for The Economist and The Times. He advised two Prime Ministers, served in Tony Blair’s cabinet, and was a consultant to the Yes Minister television sitcom. In 1985, he was appointed to the House of Lords.
Earlier this week this longtime Labour Party partisan urged his colleagues to “ditch its climate change obsession.” Eight years ago, he says, he was among the vast majority in both Houses of Parliament who “unquestioningly” voted in favour of Britain’s Climate Change Act. Afterward, he did some firsthand research.
“The more I explored it, the more I began to question what was being claimed by the evangelical climate change movement,” he writes. Donoughue agrees that the climate is changing. In his words: “it always has.” He also thinks there’s some connection between human-generated carbon dioxide emissions and the global climate. The problem is that the nature of this connection “has not been conclusively established.”
Many climate claims are unpersuasive, he says, and activists who behave abusively toward independent thinkers aren’t helping their cause. But the crux of the matter is that Donoughue is a champion of the working class. Current climate policies hit those people disproportionately. Their home heating costs are skyrocketing, and their energy-intensive steelworker jobs are disappearing. If someone’s boat has capsized, leaving them to drown while punching holes in their vessel in the name of marine wildlife harm reduction doesn’t win you friends.
Arguing that the hardship to which poor families are being subjected is actually pointless, Donoughue urges his party to reexamine its priorities:
There is no sense in the UK damaging its economy and its consumers with high energy costs in pursuit of some fanciful ‘moral leadership’ of the world, when we emit less than 2% of global carbon anyway. That is fatuous ‘virtue-signalling’.
In his view, the Labour Party should “retreat from the punitive 2008 legal emissions targets.” It should support only those policies, he says, that are funded via “progressive direct taxation” rather than via regressive levies on home heating.
Perhaps his Party will take his advice. If not, it shouldn’t be surprised when longtime supporters cast their votes elsewhere.
Read Donoughue’s entire article here.