‘Posh folk’ or ‘plain folk’? What is the Net Zero Scrutiny Group? Part 1

Feb 11, 2022

People want a cleaner, greener planet. But they will not tolerate a green strategy that involves posh folk telling plain folk what to do.

Andrew Neil, Daily Mail, October 2021 

Leaving aside the sheer patronage of the language, Neil might have a point if he objected to, or campaigned against, the privileges of those “posh folk”; whose right to “be telling plain folk what to do” isn’t something he challenges in any other context and that, as a prolific broadcaster, chairman of the Spectator and formerly Rupert Murdoch’s consiglieri at the Sunday Times, he spends most of his time defendingS,

Does he point out that Jeff Bezos casually throwing $2 billion in loose change at conservation efforts – having flown in to the COP on his private jet soon after he blew $5.5 billion to be in space just for 5 minutes – shows that one man having $200 billion to dispose of on a whim is grotesque and unacceptable? Not a bit of it.

Does he use his many media platforms to campaign for insulation targeted at the 2.4 million households living in fuel poverty; or argue for solar panel installations to be brought in on the same principle. Not a dicky bird.

Does he – just as a suggestion – campaign for cheap, clean public transport, that would primarily benefit the hardest up people who don’t have access to a private car (17% of white people, 21% of Asian people, 33% of people with mixed heritage and 40% of black people); and give all of us cleaner air to breathe? The tumbleweed blows through the silence.

He doesn’t do any of this. He lives in a cleaner, greener part of the planet than most of the “plain folk” he patronises so effortlessly. As a dedicated Brexit supporter, he lives a lot of the time in a villa in the south of France, which is, no doubt, good for the soul.

He might also have more credibility if he didn’t back the expansion of oil and gas extraction, including fracking, or argue that the rise in energy prices occasioned by our heavy reliance on fossil fuels means we shouldn’t transition to cheaper renewable alternatives, or act as a little Sir Echo to Craig Mackinlay and the Net Zero Scrutiny Group’s

very own “project fear” about the costs of Net Zero, ignoring the savings involved in the transition, which largely pays for itself.

  • The Office for Budget Responsibility July ‘Fiscal risks report’  pointed out that the ‘Balanced Net Zero Pathway’ would cost £1312 billion in investment costs, spread over 30 years between 2020 and 2050; but these would be offset by significant and growing savings, particularly from avoiding the purchase of fossil fuels, amounting to £991 billion in the same period.
  • That leaves a net cost of £321 billion over 30 years, an annual investment cost of £10.7 billion. This is just 1% of the projected £1053 billion that the government expects to spend in 2021-2. Not going to break the bank is it Andrew?
  • Even more damning, by 2050 the £16 billion needed at that point would be outweighed by yearly savings of £19 billion. So, it would be completely balanced out before then and, after that, we’d be quids in.

Neil is keen to present himself and other lukewarmers as the spokespeople for “plain folk” – who he seems to think can’t speak for themselves. He has a record of peddling “baseless claims made on climate contrarian blogs” and can always be relied upon to dig in on the latest line in the long rearguard action against meaningful action.

Rubbing shoulders with these people is not good for your health. As Neil himself put it after resigning from GB News – which energetically promotes the myths of the Luke warmers – had he carried on with them, the job would have killed him. Taking their nonsense as good coin would just as surely kill the rest of us.

To be continued.

Paul Atkins

Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash