Monday, July 11, 2011

Past neglect

After a run of detailed pieces on energy, in September 2008 we wrote a long article about the need for a coherent energy policy from the Conservatives – to the stunning silence of the chatterati, the media and the political classes. And now, almost three years down the line, we have them all piling onto the bandwaggon, too little, too late.

This is where true failure lies. By late 2009, it was very evident that we were heading for a train wreck on energy policy – which could only result in long-term shortages and increased prices. But there was no action.

One reason was that those in the politico-media bubble only think in the short-term – insofar as they can ever be accused of thinking. Another was (and is) that they are reactive, responding to events rather than pre-empting problems and heading them off at the pass.

But by far the greater problem is the sheep-like mentality. None of them want to be too far out on their own. They huddle together, massaging the same stories, the same issues and the same thoughts. And three years ago, "energy" wasn't on the group running list.

Thus, when we needed action those years ago, there was none. The political parties were allowed to go into a general election without energy policy being a high-profile issue. Yet, incredibly, the same dire, mindless nexus could prattle about climate change, the effects of which might be apparent is twenty, fifty or hundred years – or some time never.

And that is the biggest problem of them all. Faced with real, serious problems, the chatterati prefer to side-step reality, and indulge in fantasy and trivia, relying all the time on group-think to see them through.

Now we are paying the price – and we will continue to pay, as the media and the politicians obsess about "self". Even now they fail seriously to address issues which will have too many in early graves, as the combination of fuel poverty and cold weather cut down the impoverished elderly.

Thus, much of the damage caused by the politico-media nexus arises not from what they do now, but what they should have been doing years ago and didn't. As always though, this is far too complex an argument, which few critics will address. There is no longer an institutional memory to tell them they were wrong.