The alternative alternative?

Tony Thatcher and Margaret Mandelson were the main reason I ended up joining the Greens.

Once the Labourservative Duo had marshalled the Westminster Labour Party’s Gadarene rush to the ‘centre’ ground, where else was there to go?

Lib Dem? Nah. It was obvious well before 2010 that they would do anything, anything for a crack at power. After 13 years of ConLabour, whichever side the Dems propped up in coalition would have amounted to the same thing.

Meanwhile, beneath the cod-ethnic, ear-flapped woolly hats and “Fracking makes me jolly cross” placards, the Green Party had fairly ferocious agenda. Given the chance, they’d only detach a couple of squads to give tree hugging demonstrations while the remainder busily sawed the oligarchiat off at the ankles.

“Given a chance” being the operative words of course. If Jeremy Corbyn’s chances of getting elected are slim, the Greens’ are positively skeletal.

Which raises the question of which party to support. For now, being either Labour or Green is a labour of love, since one’s not doing it with any expectation of one’s party being elected. OTOH if Corbyn plays his cards right, Labour could be in with a shout on a proper alternative platform in 2025 whereas the Greens might be looking at a dozen seats and maybe, just maybe holding the balance of power.

Hmm.

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Ah, that old special relationship

Doncha love the smell of empowered Euroscepticism in the morning?

Not that Quadranting has much, if any, time for David Davies but the man wasted no time jabbing a sharp elbow in David Cameron’s ribs over yesterday’s rather pathetic attempt by the government to ignite a fresh round of scaremongering over Snowden.

Doubtless neocon eyes are getting all flinty in Washington at the prospect of their agenda having to play second fiddle to Cameron’s need to pacify his own version of John Major’s “bastards”.

Fracked actor

I was going to do an entry about Cameron’s deeply disingenuous attempt to paint fracking as a potential economic miracle for the UK today – but Ilargi at the The Automatic Earth said it all while I was still faffing about at the keyboard.

London Is Fracking, And I Live By The River

…there probably is no government that’s as convinced of the blessings of the shale and fracking industry as Prime Minister David Cameron and his lieutenants. Until recently, the Polish government might have given them a run for their money, but in Poland the entire industry essentially died in just the past few months.

People assume all too easily that what is produced today will be also be produced well into the future, maybe because of how conventional oil and gas typically play out, but the 40% depletion rates for the average well at the Bakken play today, put together with the undoubtedly worsening future rates, for ever more, and inevitably ever more marginal, wells, don’t paint a rosy picture. It may all look fine today, but looking at the numbers I don’t see how it can still look good even a few years from now.

We’re getting poorer

We are all getting poorer by the day.

Who says so? Matthew Parris, Times columnist and one-time MP does.

He should know. He’s well-connected. He seems to understand the powerful forces stopping us getting richer the way we used to.

After all, his dad was an electrical engineer in what we used to call the Empire. Later, we called it the colonies. Now it’s “other people’s countries.”

Anyway, the young Parris got to watch the run-up to the global peak of energy and resource extraction from a front-row seat.

His dad wired up South Africa, Cyprus, Zimbabwe, Swaziland and Jamaica. It was the high point of the 19th and 20th centuries’ development tube. We put fossil energy in one end. Wealth and consumption (and hundreds of millions of consumers) came out the other.

Now it doesn’t work so well. Net energy is going down. Someone’s got to lose. Most days it’s those of us in the richest part of the world.

Mr Parris thinks that we Brits are handling this very well. After all, we’ve been doing decline as an international power for 100 years.

“All’s well with our democracy; all’s well with our politics,” he wrote on Saturday. “We’re skint, that’s all.”

All’s well? Really? In an country that’s still got a long way to fall before it stops being a consumer economy, skint consumers are of little consequence to their rulers.

Today our old Etonian prime minister will call for wartime-scale abandonment of checks and balances on messing around with our built and natural environments.

He’ll say it will get Britain growing. He’ll tell the people that they need to get out of the way.

How did that work after WWII? City centres were ruined and areas like the Mendip hills were handed over wholesale to quarrying.

Wartime rules that stayed in force for several years after the war meant that ‘people’ had no say. They often knew nothing until it was too late.

We’re starting to find out what getting poorer is really all about. There’s a lot more to it than voters merely putting up with being skint without starting riots.

Heathrow – the scramble for investment hots up

As Nicole Foss of The Automatic Earth  frequently points out, finance will be the first of  three big crises to really start to bite around the world (the other two being peak oil and climate change of course).

Pools of investment capital are steadily getting shallower. As they do, the fights over who gets the lion’s share become fiercer.

Here in the UK, the post-crash game of ‘Capital Fight’ is crystallising around plans for a third runway for Heathrow airport.

BAA, the airport’s operator, and the consortia of infrastructure-building interests are desperate for government to give the go-ahead. And they bandy plenty of bollocks about to try to support their case.

BAA claim that transfer passengers contribute an average of £500 each to the UK economy as they pass briefly through Heathrow’s hallowed arrival and departure gates.

But since many of those passengers transfer to flights to non-UK destinations, those who do go on to domestic flights must be spending a helluva lot per head while they’re here.

Time is running out for the pro-expansion lobby. It won’t be long before it’s clear to everyone that the runway’s economic usefulness will probably be over before it’s even finished.

Mass aviation is dying in by inch as airlines fail and passenger numbers stall in the face of high fuel costs and stagnating incomes.

Not that that matters a jot to the expansionists. BAA needs to show investment to stay in the hub game against the likes of Schipol or Frankfurt over the next critical few years before the game is up. The banks and infrastructure consortia, as always, are only concerned with the money to be made from building the new facilities. Who cares what happens to them afterwards?

If you can’t believe that banks and builders would pour all that capital into a massive white elephant then you should read James Howard Kunstler’s chapters on mall-building in The Long Emergency and The Geography of Nowhere.  Once there was a way for backers to make oodles of dosh while ensuring they weren’t left holding the baby when the malls failed years later.

Now, not so much. The Heathrow expansion lobby is competing for scarce capital against genuinely important investments in UK energy infrastructure, food security and non-road transportation (not including the sexy but not-exactly-vital high speed rail line from London to Birmingham).

Moreover, UK taxpayers now know that they’ll be on the hook, via their ‘ownership’ of the TBTF banks’ liabilities (though mysteriously never the profits), for any Government-sanctioned projects that turn out to be dead ducks in the long term.

Will voters in the West, Midlands and North be happy if their lights start flickering on and off just as politicians, playboys, pop stars and fat cats – soon to constitute much of the constituency of the still-flying – get to enjoy sauntering through the wide open spaces of Heathrow+1 on their way to Jersey or Zurich?

Do politicians care? Tim ‘About Turn’ Yeo MP doesn’t seem to. On the grounds that jets are a bit quieter these days, and that emissions aren’t a problem because EU carbon caps will make fuel even more crushingly unaffordable for airlines,  he’s performed a timely abandonment of his opposition to expansion and challenged his boss to be a man not a mouse and back it too.

To QuadRanting, that looks like the ultimate in short-termism and running scared of the Tory DailyGuff – arch backer of a narrow spectrum of City and construction sector interests.

Why now? Only the expansionist lobby knows. The delicious thing is that the “man or mouse” call coincided with the Essex Lion Fiasco, ensuring that Yeo has had to endure a barrage of animal related gags and catcalls (naturally) from all sides.

Cameron’s climbdown

If you’re the leader of a party that’s totally hog-tied by big banks, construction firms, property interests and retailers, how do you speak truthfully to the electorate?

Well, if you’re Mr Cameron you have to be devious.

You know that your retail paymasters will blow their fuses if your big speech of the year includes such sensible advice to people as:

“The only way out of a debt crisis is to deal with your debts. That means households – all of us – paying off the credit card and store card bills.”

Because that sounds like you’re not just describing what’s happening but actually endorsing it. And that would be bad for vested interests the ‘recovery’.

So you don’t say those words. But you do make sure they’re in the advance copies of your speech that get sent to the media in time to catch papers on the morning before you step up to the lectern.

When smoke and flames erupt from every orifice of  the British Retail Consortium, you feign shocked surprise at how easily your words might be misinterpreted by the public and change the final wording to:

“The only way out of a debt crisis is to deal with your debts. That is why households are paying down the credit card and store card bills.”

Job done. The coverage generated by changing the wording guarantees far more attention  for the first version: the one you wanted everyone to hear.

The big question, of course, is why do we now live in a country whose prime minister has to resort to Byzantine subterfuges to get sensible advice past his Government’s corporate minders?