That makes a change – an inspirational teenager is splashed all over today’s newspapers instead of the usual ragbag bundle of same-face politicians.
We could do with the uplifting sight of Greta Thunberg, especially with Donald Trump heading here for a state visit in June – although not staying at Buck House, reportedly, as the ERbnb is full. And doubly especially as Nigel Farage is once again flogging that finger-smudged old narrative about being a simple man angered by career politicians – this from a man who has had a lucrative career as an MEP for 20 bloody years.
Let’s put aside that shameful, duplicitous pair for a moment and turn instead to the 16-year-old from Sweden.
The young environmental campaigner has been nominated for the Nobel peace price after sparking protests around the globe. Yesterday, after catching the train rather than the plane, she was in London to meet some of our politicians. What she made of environment secretary Michael Gove is anybody’s guess: was it fair to submit one so young to that ordeal?
Undeterred, Greta criticised the government for continuing to support fossil fuels and airport expansion. According to The Times, her speech at Westminster has inspired the government to act on climate change. The paper reports that the environment secretary admitted to feeling guilty about his generation’s failure to tackle climate change.
Govey said he was listening and agreed that “not nearly enough” had been done. Young Greta should keep her unrelenting eyes on the environment secretary to make sure this wasn’t just recycled soft-soap.
How astonishing that one 16-year-old from Stockholm should have brought so much attention to the global debate on climate change, all from starting a solo school strike that travelled the world almost as quickly as a Trump tweet. Her simple message is that politicians have ignored climate change, and that is impossible to deny: Greta tells the truth, and keeps telling it, a stark truth that has recently seen parts of London blocked by rolling environmental protests.
All this has focused much attention on the teenager behind the remarkable revival of green activism. Greta was diagnosed with Asperger’s four years ago and turned her remorseless gaze on climate change after suffering from depression.
On the BBC Today programme, she told Nick Robinson that “being different is a gift. It makes me see thing from outside the box. I don’t easily fall for lies, I can see through things. If I would’ve been like everyone else, I wouldn’t have started this school strike, for instance”.
Greta is the future and those of us further down the line should be glad of that. Her unshakeable determination that something should be done is admirable beyond words and suggests we should celebrate difference and the confronting of awkward truths.
Now let’s turn, with the deepest of sighs, to Trump’s state visit. Must we roll out the red carpet for that proven liar, racist, shameless rabble-rouser and ardent climate-change denier, a man whose interest in anything extends no further than the end of his over-sized tie?
Trump is no friend to Britain – especially not as Brexit turns into one of those escape room games, but one when all the doors are locked, and someone just swallowed the key.
Brexiters who think that Donald Trump is any sort of answer to Britain’s post-EU future should take another look at their friend from the US and realise that Donald Trump is a friend only to himself. Just like Boris Johnson, our possible next prime minister, but let’s not spoil the day by going there.