Tuesday, January 09, 2007

A follower, not a leader

Disappointing though it is for those of us who have argued fairly consistently for something to be done about the environmental costs of air travel, I cannot say I am hugely surprised by Tony Blair's latest comments about the issue in an interview published today. My main criticism of him as a politician down the years has always been that he is essentially a follower, not a leader, and his refusal to seek to lead public opinion on the question of climate change is entirely typical of his cretinous style of political "leadership."

"You know, I'm still waiting for the first politician who's actually running for office who's going to come out and say it - and they're not," he says. Wrong. His own environment minister, who unlike him is actually running for office at the next election, recently called for curbs on shorthaul flights and branded Ryanair the "irresponsible face of capitalism."

Blair would like to think that his comments show himself to be in touch with the great mass of ordinary people. In actual fact they show him to be increasingly out of touch with what has become an emerging political consensus on the air travel issue.

Ten months ago, I described this on the blog as an issue mainstream politics was ignoring. To be fair, it is ignoring it no longer. But the fact that the Prime Minister seems determined to do so only serves to demonstrate once more the extent to which he has outlived his usefulness.

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Angello90 said...

im not into the politics but your r kind of right with that. i leave in ireland but im polish and im useing wizzair (something like Ryanair)and the ticket in both ways cost me about 100 euro. aerlingus cost about 500! stupid! beside nice blog and i like your posts. visit my blogs too. click some ads and leave comment. bey

Atomboy said...

What you say is true, but Blair's attitude reveals something more about him being detached from the normal, responsible reality of the rest of us.

He is actually saying, I can understand the arguments for not doing this, but I am too childish to comply with my conscience. My moral compass directs me, but my greed overwhelms me. I am the plaything of my impulses and cannot master myself when gratification vies with abstinence.

When somebody of this calibre occupies a position where they feel they can give lessons on how to lead life to others, we should all start counting the spoons, at least.

The fact that he is now almost universally mocked and regarded as a spineless lickspittle and glittery bauble is hardly compensation.

Jonathan Sheppard said...

I hear all this criticism of using cheap flights - yet everyone then jumps on board.Isn't it a bit like in 92 wheneveryone said they were prepared to pay more taxes yet voted Conservative with promises of less tax?

David Gladwin said...

But a tax on air travel would be a tax on consumption, Jonathan, not an across-the-board and unavoidable rise in income tax.

Nice to see you championing tax on consumption instead of earnings though, Paul.

Jonathan Sheppard said...

David - the point I was trying to make was everyone criticises cheap flights and now long haul flights - but I dont see a mad rush of people deciding to forgo a family holiday.

David Gladwin said...

I understood your point, Jonathan, but there's currently no tax disincentive to air travel.

Perhaps if there was a higher tax charge, then more people might start to find their consciences in the matter.

After all, most of us tend to have the morals that we can afford.

Jonathan Sheppard said...

Well that brings us on to another question - am I moral environmentally virtuous as I have no children and when my faily goes on holidya it is just 2 seats on a plane not 4? A person must create a huge environmentalfootprint during their life- so those who have more kids are doing more damage to the earth.

I know its taking it to the extreme but I think it shows how far we could take it.

As for the morals we can afford I dont like that argument - as it effectively means holidays abroad for the rich - the poor can make do with Bridlington (which I hasten to add I love and have visited every year of my life apart from when I lived in the US).

Perhaps if everyone had a carbon quota then those less well off wouldnt be so disadvantaged - they could sell it, or use it for an affordable holiday abroad??

GuardianReader said...

Why is everyone so het up about flying? It contributes 2% of global CO2 emissions.

Politicians should be challenged on their unnecessary car usage, which contributes far more carbon emissions than air travel.

David Gladwin said...

Jonathan - my frequent observation that people tend to adopt the morals they can afford works in both directions, on all manner of issues.

Many who oppose private education, for example, couldn't afford to pay for it anyway. It also works the other way round - you can only champion organic food if you can afford to pay the extra cost.

What I'm trying to say is that people are generally less moral than they are economical and snobbish.

leftrightleftright said...

"My main criticism of him as a politician down the years has always been that he is essentially a follower, not a leader"

Precisely. Mine too.