YOU’RE standing on the cosmos, my wife says. This gardening lark is clearly more philosophical than you might suppose.
Then again, perhaps we are all standing on the cosmos, or in it, as cosmos is another name for the universe, and…
You’re standing on the cosmos…
Ah, not the complex and orderly system or arrangement of things, but that spindly plant with feathery leaves that is suffering from cruel proximity to my untrained garden boot.
We are trying to remove an uninvited shrub that seems disinclined to budge. My wife bends down with a sigh and pulls out the cosmos, displaying the elemental power of the gardener.
As her stumble-bum assistant, I keep digging and tugging, while attempting to restrict unnecessary damage to the universe. Eventually, the stubborn shrub comes free and joins the pile of greenery destined for another trip to the tip.
GARDENING and politics don’t really mix, the first being too pleasant for the latter, but something about that doomed cosmos fits Rishi Sunak’s wish to water down his government’s key climate commitments.
Then again, big surprise. The man flies everywhere and uses helicopters as others might hop on those dangerous-looking electric scooters you see in town now.
In reviewing his government’s green pledges, Sunak says he will put the “long-term interests of our country before the short-term political needs of the moment”.
So says the man doing this for the short-term political needs of his presently unpopular party. Ever since the Tories scraped home in that byelection in Uxbridge, with a single-issue candidate who stood against the Ultra Low Emission Zone, they seem to see votes in doing an anti-Kermit.
“It’s not that easy being green,” sings Sunak, with his too-short trousers risen up to expose socks in that colour.
“It’s not that easy being green when you fly everywhere, and the worst of your MPs think green only belongs in the fields they own.
“It’s not that easy being green when the right-wing newspapers who support you won’t shut up about how rubbish electric cars are and about how they can’t see the problem in a bit of pollution.
“It’s not that easy being green when you’re in a deep hole over that election in a year or so. It’s much easier to kick off a culture war about how nobody can afford to be green – apart from me, of course, I can afford whatever it like. I’m just not that interested in being green.”
The home secretary did the interviews round this morning, despatched to sell shabby shares in Sunak’s Anti-Kermit Policy. Her line, delivered in that uniquely annoying way she has, both patronising and hectoring, boiled down to: “We won’t save the planet by bankrupting the British people.”
Ah, our old friend the British people. Whenever you hear that, remember to check what they are trying to sell you. And when a Tory says it, keep hold of your wallet. They seemed happy enough bankrupting us all when handing out PPE contracts to their mates during the pandemic. Or when Sunak came up with his Eat Out To Help Spread Covid scheme.
Making the Tories the anti-green party doesn’t seem likely to appeal to young people, or sensible Tories, or the motoring industry, or anyone who worries about all those greenhouse gases – such as carbon dioxide (CO2) and methane – we’re swimming in. Or the concerned global community.
Sunak delivered a hurried speech about his plans this afternoon, saying that people dislike Westminster game-playing and short-termism.
According to the lectern he stood at, this was all about “Long Term Decisions For a Brighter Future.” Well, it’s snappier than “Short Term Decisions To Cling On To Power and the Daily Mail and Rupert Murdoch told me to say this”.
Elsewhere in his having-his-green-cake-and-eating-it speech, Sunak said: “Since I’ve become Prime Minister I’ve examined our plans” and “they impose costs that no one was ever really told about and which may not be necessary”. Perhaps he should speak to whoever it was who was Chancellor from 2020. Did he support those green policies back then or was he not paying attention?
The headline to his speech was pushing back the ban on new diesel and electric cars until 2035 – another five years. As for the rest, it was as slippery as it pretended to be sensible.
Perhaps I should go back into the garden and try to avoid treading on something.