“He did not know her name, but he knew that she worked in the Fiction Department. Presumably – since he had sometimes seen her with oily hands and carrying a spanner – she had some mechanical job on one of the novel-writing machines.”
George Orwell, Nineteen Eighty-Four
Orwell’s technicians at Minitrue work for David Cameron these days, churning out press releases. Like the one that this week heralded the publication of the Growth Bill.
Now it’s sad that even the titles of legislation have become an ideological battleground. Canada recently passed a law to undo much of its federal environmental protection legislation. It called it the Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity Act. (The Japanese in World War Two named their empire the Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere in a similar attempt to deceive.) When Enterprise Zones were introduced by the Thatcherites in 1980, a Labour backbencher tried in vain to have them renamed Industrial Development Areas. Not a chance. There is no room for neutrality in the war against economic democracy.
Or against democracy, pure and simple. All the bile in the press release is directed at folk who have used commons legislation to thwart development by getting local beauty spots declared to be village greens. Reading the press release, you can visualise folk with no local connection getting up petitions to oppose the democratic will of the community and deprive young couples there of the home they’ve always dreamed of. (Ever compassionate, those housebuilders. It’s amazing they don’t give houses away for free.)
There are actually four reasons why village green legislation is ‘abused’, as the Government would have it. One is that no-one associated with the London regime gives a damn about protecting anyone’s environment. Two is that the local folk most directly affected have no other way to protect it, because even if the parish is 100% against development, it can be over-ruled by the district council. Third is that the district council, even if it agrees with the parish, can be over-ruled by Eric Pickles or one of the thugs in his employ. Fourth is that the district is forced to meet the demand for housebuilding whether it likes it or not, so its agreement to allocate a site for housing is obtained under duress.
The Tory party is deeply split over the environment. One half really believes in it. The other half can only see the £ signs. And that’s the half that’s winning and will probably go on winning because that’s where the party’s funding comes from. The other half would be better advised to join the Wessex Regionalist Party and fight for democracy. Our view is that if development enjoys genuine local support, untainted by bribes and threats, then it’s for local folk to live with the consequences whatever they may be. It’s also that calling in the big fist of London government if you can’t get your own way is not how our society should seek to deal with conflict.