The Tories Have Adopted Keynes: But They Must Do More for Green Energy | Ewell Gregoor
I did not vote Tory at the last general election, truth be told, I have never voted Conservative in my life. Being a northerner and an economic Keynesian, I did not trust the Tories fresh off ten years of crippling austerity to honour their pledge to level up the country and move away from the economic orthodoxy of the past forty years.
I was therefore shocked to see self-proclaimed Thatcherites applaud a Quasi-Keynesian Budget in March. It seems the Tories have understood that the vast majority of the country lean left on the economy and right on culture. However, it has been government spending since the Winter Budget which has caught the eye the most. Nearly two-hundred billion pounds has been spent since the March Budget on the Furlough Scheme and initiatives to kick-start the economy and retain jobs. On top of over one-hundred billion in low interest loans for businesses.
John Maynard Keynes` theory is often misunderstood. He is too often claimed by Marxists and those on the far left of the economic spectrum. Mark Spencer, who writes a small biography on Keynes in the introduction to a 21st Century edition to his book, The General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money, notes that Keynes died with a net worth of around half a million pound, most of which was made on the New York Stock Exchange during the time of the Great Depression. Keynes was an advocate for individualism and private enterprise, alongside an active, interventionist state. Keynes orthodoxy was to reduce taxes and increase government spending in time of recession to boost growth and increase the demand of labour. Make no mistake, the Tories, at least for now, have kicked Milton Friedman and Friedrich Hayek into touch, and have made Keynes one of their own.
Whilst the summer statement was met with much applause, there was one gaping hole, Green Energy. Three billion was pledged to insulate government buildings and for a voucher scheme contributing to the cost for homeowners to insulate their lofts and floorboards. These are of course welcome policies in isolation, but as a package they are frivolous.
It is axiomatic to say that Green Energy is not a priority for the Tory Government, and even less so for Tory Voters. There are of course reasons for this. The most obvious reason being the group of extremely privileged anarchists who, fresh of their round the world gap year experience, proceed to lecture ordinary people about the virtues of carbon free future. It is often hard to understand this groups motives, and harder still to believe it is born out of a love for anything or anyone. This group, who call themselves Extinction Rebellion, are no friends of climate change. Their project doom attitude, acompanied with constant rhetoric and hyperbole has only turn the masses away and excluded them from the much-needed debate on the environment. Andrew Neil interviewed one of the Rebellion`s organisers, Zion Lights, in the midst of the October demonstrations, which the apotheosis was the memorable attempts to stop the London underground, a clean energy public transport service. Neil took apart Lights on claims of projected deaths and sea level rises, to the point where Ms Lights admitted the movement exaggerated the projections for max impact. In other words, they were made up. It is this reason why Extinction Rebellion have failed to capture the hearts of the British Public, and instead creates a reluctance to give ground to the disproportionately white and middle class mob.
Whilst I understand the reluctance to give ground, and have been guilty of sharing the sentiment in the past, the importance of green energy cannot be tarred by Extinction Rebellion. And there are many reasons why Green Energy should be higher up the list of priorities for Conservatives.
Nearly all conservatives dislike civic disturbance and disorder, and whilst ever there is a perceived moral cause for `liberals` to beat the Tories with, they will take it with both hands. Climate Demonstrations will become more and more frequent if the government does not act. According to a Times Report in October 2019, Extinction Rebellion protests in London cost an additional thirty-nine million in policing alone and put a `horrendous strain` on resources, according to Police Commissioner Cresida Dick. Not to mention the drop in economic activity when the protests grind the Capital to a halt. The most obvious reason for investing in Green Energy is because of the real threat of climate change. There is no climate hoax, there is no conspiracy. Carbon consumption is destroying our planet, that is again axiomatic. It is the timescale of the damage that is often argued. Opposition to Green Policies often comes from a theory that climate change cannot be stopped. Whilst the evidence on this is mixed, the evidence on air pollution is not.
In 2015 two schools in South Yorkshire had to be shut due to unsafe levels of air pollution. The school’s playgrounds were close to the M1 Motorway, meaning children were breathing in polluted air as they as they played during break times. The evidence on the impact of air pollution is comprehensive and widely evidence for the associated respiratory health implications it carries. Up to thirty-six thousand deaths are attributed to long term exposure to air pollution each year, according to Public Health England. It should go without saying, that every person, and especially every child, has the right to breathe clean non-polluted air.
There is also a long-term economic argument to become World Leaders in Clean and Renewable Energy. The recent Covid Pandemic proved how inefficient Britain has become since she embraced neoliberalism and become an importer rather than a maker-builder. We have an opportunity to get ahead of the curve, for once. Germany, who are often decades ahead of the curve, have seen this as an opportunity and have committed over thirty billion euros to clean energy. In contrast to our green commitments, Germany`s economic pledge for Green Hydrogen alone is more than double the UK`s total Green Package. Britain needs to shift from being a docile importing country to a proactive creating and exporting country. With interest rates at record lows and money generating tools at our disposal in the form of Quantitative Easing (QE) and Modern Monetary Theories (MMT), the time is now for the government to invest in Green Energy and use it as a catalyst for the levelling up programme the Prime Minister has promised.
It is vital that Green Energy moves up Tory Voters priorities, the working class, who are now the Tories most common voter, will no doubt be left out of the Green Revolution should the Liberal Left have their way. Evidenced by the proposed Green Jobs training bursary in the 2019 Labour Manifesto, which was for BAME, LGBT and other working class exclusionary intersections.
What we need is a British Electric Car Manufacturer in Castleford, a Solar Panel factory in Shrewsbury, a Green Energy Headquarter in Grimsby, and a Hydrogen Plant in Hartlepool. With training bursaries for those local to the area.
The Tories have adopted Keynes, now they need to give us the Green Deal, before it’s too late.
Photo by NucleairNederland on Flickr.