From the vaults: Someday there will be outrage (19/12/2012)

Outrage comes in many forms: it can be short-fused and incandescent; it can equally be slow to ignite, particularly if the conditions for combustion are carefully managed and controlled.

Lately we’ve seen a number of examples of suppressed outrage finally reacting to the oxygen of exposure: Saville, Hillsborough, and now probably Orgreave looks likely to join the list of late-in-the-day revelations about events which are – and here’s a paradox – unsurprising, predictable, but still scandalous.

The interests and reputations of those with power, influence (and the money which can buy both) have been protected and the opportunity for natural and legal justice has been denied until, in many cases, the culprits are beyond the reach of either. The role of our national broadcaster in the Saville affair has been exposed as a disgrace, and there’s more to say about it/them later.

My view on current energy policy is that it – a decade or two from now – will be seen as scandalous, bordering on fraudulent, and that the same devices of collusion, subversion and lack of transparency will be exposed to a future generation, who will wonder what the hell we were doing while all of this was going on.

Now I’m not, obviously, equating the issue of wind turbines with systematic sexual abuse, conspiring to lie about events which left 96 football supporters dead, or mining communities being wantonly and systematically destroyed. The point I’m trying to make is that we are already in the process of saving up a national outrage for some future date and, when the time comes, the BBC will be one of many organisations and individuals with awkward questions to confront.

There will come a time – I’m convinced of it – when the scale of this misguided and misrepresented lunacy will surface and be exposed to the unforgiving daylight. When that day arrives, it will be impossible to find space in the shadows; they will be crammed with those trying to make themselves inconspicuous. Former energy secretaries, wrong-headed journalists, green campaigners who never really understood the true meaning of the term – you won’t be able to find one with his or her head above the parapet.

The only question then will be… actually, there will be two questions: do we clear up the mess? If so, who pays? Not those who have made money and are long gone, we can be pretty sure of that; it will be the taxpayer or nobody. Like Railtrack, like the East Coast franchise, like the banks with their incomprehensible, thinly-sliced and bundled derivatives, we will pay. It will be us or nobody.

Those who received the subsidies will be beyond reach; merged, acquired, obscured by a web of offshore shells and arcane tax shelters. The ones who argued for wind – erratic, unreliable, quixotic wind – to be seen as a plausible cornerstone of our electricity supply will be ‘unavailable for comment’. At least the BBC will still, probably, be around to answer for its role in the conspiracy.

I’m not a climate change denier. I’m prepared to accept the evidence that the planet is warming; and that human activities are making a contribution to that warming. The question for me is: what do we do about it? Wantonly damaging the environment in the name of protecting the environment seems to me to be beyond perverse.

There’s a couple of lines from a Dougie Maclean song…

We are the seeds they grew
It’s we that you must answer to

It’s about a future generation asking questions and not taking ‘No’ for an answer. Heaven only knows what our response will be when they enquire about our motivation for turning pristine wilderness into post-industrial desolation.

I’ve gone on a bit; more than a bit. I needed to get that lot off my chest.


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