WHY do politicians make promises they can’t keep? And I mean really not keep.
For instance, what was Theresa May thinking when she made a commitment that the UK would be carbon neutral by 2050?
Did she think that in the 2040s politicians would be saying: “We really have to stick to this commitment. After all, Theresa May made it.”
It was Boris Johnson who decided to bring that date forward in relation to some key areas. What was he thinking?
Did he imagine that he would still be PM in 2030? And that he would kick the ball through the net himself?
He was out of office within a few months of making the pledges.
And the way his party is going, if Britain ever did achieve net zero, the current likelihood is that it would be under a Labour government.
Which would naturally be very strict about sticking to policies announced by previous Conservative governments . . .
Enter Rishi Sunak this week to bring the tiniest bit of sanity back into the discussion.
He pushed back Johnson’s dates, and said that among other things the proposed ban on buying cars that run on petrol or diesel would be put back to 2035.
Sunak also scrapped plans to force landlords to make their properties more energy-efficient.
These are modest proposals. But you wouldn’t have guessed that from some of the reactions.
The BBC ran Sunak’s speech as breaking news on its website and news channels.
It was as though, instead of a speech, some great calamity had occurred. Reporters came live from the crash site.
“What’s been happening?” the BBC website demanded on its live news blog.
“The Prime Minister has given a speech, and not an especially interesting one,” the answer ought to have been.
But that didn’t seem enough for the BBC. At Broadcasting House, the speech was read as if news of the imminent destruction of Planet Earth.
That’s not surprising, given that the BBC is one of many media outlets in this country that repeatedly allow people to claim we are in a “climate crisis”, as though that is a statement of fact rather than opinion.
But everywhere there were lefties and others having meltdowns.
One especially ridiculous top lawyer said on Twitter that the speech showed the PM to be “totally evil” — as though Sunak had been caught murdering babies, rather than delaying a ban on certain car types.
“Oil-soaked Sunak” was apparently “utterly contemptible”, and “deliberately undermining the efforts we all make to save the planet”.
As though people divide into those that want to save the planet and those who really want it to burn.
It is a pathetic form of argument.
But Labour MP Barry Sheerman joined the hysteria, claiming: “This Sunak U-turn is a devastating blow.”
If a Sunak speech is a devastating blow for him, I’m not sure how Sheerman will be consoled when worse things happen in his life.
But he blasted on that the PM had betrayed “our planet survival plans . . . he will never be forgiven!”
What foresight Sheerman has.
Conservative PMs might think they can control the temperature of the planet in the 2040s, but Sheerman reckons he can see to the end of all time.
Nor was the hysteria confined to the Labour benches. Conservative peer Lord Goldsmith said: “This move by the PM vindicates my decision to noisily resign.
“I didn’t want vindication. I hoped it would add pressure on the Government to prove me and others wrong. We need an election. Now.”
‘Bare minimum of common sense’
You really must be a Conservative member of the House of Lords to want an election now.
Conservative members of the House of Commons would be far less keen.
But all of it is a reminder that people across the political spectrum have lost their minds.
The EU says it is committed to similar proposals to Sunak’s by 2032.
So it isn’t as though there is a wild difference between us and our Continental friends.
In any case, there is just such a vanity about this whole thing.
Even if every British motorist got turfed out of their car tomorrow, it would do nothing meaningful to reduce carbon emissions across the planet.
As our Government pushes for these bankruptcy-inducing measures, China keeps building coal-fired power stations.
So do India and a range of other countries across the Far East.
“But we should lead and they will follow our example,” say the Green zealots here at home.
Well, let me tell them something.
If you go to India or China, one thing that absolutely nobody says is: “I wonder what Britain is doing. We only act if we are following them.”
Sorry, but that’s a really outdated way of seeing the world.
The truth is that what Sunak has now done is the bare minimum of common sense.
Everyone wants to save the planet. Everyone wants a cleaner planet.
But you have to get there in stages. And you have to bring the public with you.
Impoverishing us all is the least likely way to persuade us of a policy.
Rishi Sunak has remembered a crucial thing. The public.
And as for all those zealots screaming about his speech, let them emit their hot air.
And then think of the “evil” they’ve just committed.
SPITE IS FOOLISH M’LADY
I ALWAYS loathed Russell Brand, and never made a secret of it.
I didn’t like him when he was a self-proclaimed left-wing revolutionary.
And I didn’t like him any more when he became an online conspiracy oddball.
There is a principle of innocence until proven guilty in our country.
But there is also the right to make our own judgments about people.
I made mine on him long ago.
Still, there is something disturbing about this rush, not to judgment but to destruction.
Brand having been demonetised by YouTube, it seems people now want to strip him of any way of earning money.
Dame Caroline Dinenage, chair of the Commons Media Committee, even wrote to the online platform Rumble this week expressing “concern”.
Her concern was that Brand may still be able to make money from his videos on that platform.
I know politicians like to jump in on whatever is the latest thing.
But when the latest thing is a stampede, it’s a bad idea.
Besides which, if Brand is going to tell his followers he’s the victim of a vindictive conspiracy then Dame Caroline has just given him exhibit A.
Not the smartest move.
Oh deary deary me, De Niro
ROBERT DE NIRO is one of the greats.
Among the top five most legendary Hollywood actors of his generation.
So why is he appearing in an advert for Uber?
And using his role in the classic Taxi Driver to push it?
The answer, of course, is cash.
It seems the 80-year-old needs the moolah.
And he’s not the only one.
In recent years stars including Sylvester Stallone, Snoop Dogg and Kevin Bacon have all embarrassed themselves in order to bring home, well, the bacon.
In the past, celebs used to do this in far-flung places.
They would appear in a well-paid ad in Japan, say, in the knowledge that fans back home would never see it.
Not so today, when we can all see everything, any time.
If De Niro wants to cash in on one of the all-time great films, that’s his business.
But it’s something I’d personally rather not see.
YOUTH ON THE Z-LIST
A CHANNEL 4 boss has said the unsayable – that Gen Z kids are impossible to work with because they can’t deal with people who have different opinions.
Alex Mahon says the generation born between 1997 and 2012 don’t have the skills “to debate things or disagree”.
She blames the pandemic and the isolation of that period.
But this started long before that.
It started by coddling pupils and students.
It started by telling everyone that being offended by a different opinion is “triggering” rather than just real life.
It started with the idea that self-esteem is something you deserve rather than might have to earn.
The intolerant generation may have been rocket-fuelled by lockdown.
But the fuel has been pumped into them for a long time before that.
VEG IS A FAIR OL D WEDGE
I THOUGHT we’d seen peak ridiculous when restaurants started serving a bit of cauliflower and calling it “cauliflower steak”.
If it’s a cauliflower, it can’t be a steak. Period.
But now a hipster restaurant in West London is charging £29 a pop for a 3D-printed “new meat vegan steak”.
Surely the point of these innovations was to make meat more affordable.
And to stop any animals from being harmed in the process.
But at £29 a steak, it seems to me it’s the vegan restaurant that’s making the killing.