For sanity’s sake, let us not sit upon this ledge too long and tell sad stories of the death of politics – or, indeed, ancient memories of having studied Richard II for A-level English.
As Theresa May brings forward her bold new Brexit plan (same old plan with a new Post-it Note stuck on it); and as former PM Gordon Brown sensibly urges an investigation into the funding of Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party (same old ranting UKIP prejudices with a new Post-it note logo); let us instead think about trees, but only in a moment.
Any sentence that contains the words “Theresa” and “May” cannot by law of commonsense also contain the words “bold” and “new”. Rebranding something that essentially remains the same is one of the oldest tricks in politics and advertising, so we shall hurry on and leave Mrs Maybe to rummage in the political dressing-up box.
It has for too long been my habit to obsess about the evil ways of Nigel Farage, so we shall rush on from him too in a moment.
But not quite yet. The political landscape is ripe for Nigel Farage to make a success of being Nigel Farage: troublemaker, loud-mouth irritant and spluttering fount of toxic half-truths (at best). And part of his stale yet sadly sellable schtick is to foment trouble without providing any answers, or indeed any policies.
With that in mind, Gordon Brown is quite right to worry about the possibility of “dirty money” being washed into the Brexit Party coffers. We need complete transparency over all party funding, we need to know where all the money comes from, but especially with the suspiciously opaque funding of Farage’s Brexit Party, as Brown will warn today in a speech.
But just to be clear: it’s not a party, Nigel, but an opportunistic exercise in causing trouble for trouble’s sake.
Anyway, deep breath. Let’s instead sit upon the ground and tell happy stories about trees. Any sentence that contains the words “Michael” and “Gove” and “good idea” should usually be poked with a sharp stick. But in this case, the stick is not required.
The environment secretary is party to the Urban Tree Challenge Fund – an idea that deserves our praise as it involves planting 130,000 trees over the next two years in English towns and cities.
Gove was rightly horrified by the massacre of trees in Sheffield, and this idea comes in part as a reaction to that wanton destruction of mostly healthy trees.
As someone who lives in a tree-lined street (next to a busy road, so don’t ramp up the envy too much), I can’t help but agree with this statement from Gove: “We need trees lining our streets, not only to green and shade them but to ensure we remain connected to the wonders of the natural world, which is why we must go further and faster to increase planting rates.”
This scheme will be run by the Forestry Commission and is part of the country’s fight against what we are now encouraged to call global heating – encouraged by the Guardian, at least, and it certainly sounds more urgently precise than our cosy old pal global warming.
So long as this scheme comes off, it’s a fantastic idea. Trees are a wonder of the world, and they will be around to sustain us long after we’ve all stopped our Brexit fretting.
But if any slightly poorly tree would like to drop a branch on the Brexit Party bus, I’m sure we will all understand.