Global warming alarmists are losing the plot. You can tell it by the way they suggest anybody who disagrees with them is close to a holocaust denier, and probably a gross polluter. David Aaronovitch (Strip away the figleaf and reveal naysayers: The Times November 24) adds a predictable canard that, “The witless have permission to drive Porsche Cayenne Turbos”. There is no mistaking the malevolence, convincing me once again that Private Willis in Iolanthe knew what he was singing about, concluding that Nature shared out political views at birth. Alas WS Gilbert's 19th century distinction between Liberal and Conservative was too restrictive. In reality it is between Cavaliers, convinced practicality will see them through, and Roundheads, dirigiste, fundamentalist, pioneers of political correctness who always know what is best for everybody. Cavaliers view government as a sort of referee rather than a maker of restrictive laws and regulations. Roundheads are disciplined, severe and disapproving, convinced of life’s wretchedness and determined to Do Something About It. The division is as fundamental as gender, profound as tall and short, indelible as race or colour and transcends political boundaries. There are Cavaliers and Roundheads on both sides of the House.
Take speed cameras and congestion charging. Cavaliers hate them as Big Brotherly, oppressive, harsh and in the end ineffectual. Roundheads love them. They imagine they punish offenders, organise traffic, and pour cash into the public purse. Take global warming. Cromwell (Oliver not Thomas) would have embraced it as a common cause, requiring action from all to avert hellfire and damnation. Charles I would have treated such doomsters with disdain, remembered the cold snap in the Middle Ages, and driven off in his Porsche Cayenne Turbo, the masterpiece of precision and fuel efficiency.
Cromwell suffered pangs of conscience as he browbeat peasants into compliance, all for their own good you understand, while Charles lost his head. However, come the Restoration common wealth proved to be nothing of the sort, common sense prevailed and the People’s Republic of England collapsed. You can scare some of the people some of the time, but you can not scare all the people all the time and as John Brignell put it, in his review of Christopher Booker and Richard North’s book, Scared to Death, a phenomenon of our age began, “That returned us to the primitive state of our superstitious ancestors, with their witch hunts.” The Aids epidemic was a prototype scare. The UN has since admitted it grossly exaggerated its scope and effects, but scare nevertheless followed scare. There was hysteria about listeria, mad cow disease, the millenium bug, satantic abuse, speed killing, lead in petrol, human CJD, E Coli, passive smoking, asbestos and now there is global warming. Politicians and scientists played charades, created legislation, bureaucracy blossomed, lawyers prospered and the sight of world leaders jostling for attention in Copenhagen provides no reassurance at all that global warming is yet another, following the same ruinous course as the others. The only crumb of comfort is that, as Cromwell was one of the first to discover and Aaronovitch will too, Roundheads, in the end, lose.