Huhne: ideology before rationality

They said of John Major (re Edwina) that it wasn’t so much his morals as his taste that let him down. Same goes for Huhne.

You’re probably sick to death of reading about Chris Huhne, but bear with me: this may be a new angle.

It was self-indulgent of me to Tweet “Hurrah for Huhne’s departure!” yesterday, but I just couldn’t resist.  We see again one of the oldest truths in politics: it’s not the original misdemeanour that gets you.  It’s the mess you get into with the cover-up.  Oh what a tangled web we weave, etc etc.

I’ve been astonished by some of the comment on his resignation.  Some are saying that Nick Clegg is alarmed at the idea of a disaffected Huhne on the back benches, where his “powerful intellect” and his “expertise in economics” will be a huge threat to Clegg’s leadership.

Hang on there!  “Powerful intellect”?  And “expertise in economics”?  What planet are they on?  Let’s recall that in 2002, Huhne was co-author of a booklet “Why Britain must join the Euro”.  This economics expert assured us that “Joining the €uro would increase our incomes and standard of living” (like it did for Greece?).  That the €uro was a huge success, that its critics had been proved wrong at every point.  Oh Yes, Chris.

And does he have the good sense and decency to admit in 2012 that he was wrong in 2002?  He does not.  On the contrary, he dismisses eurosceptic Conservatives as “Tea Party Tories”.  (As is so often the case, an intended insult could well be adopted by its targets as a badge of pride.  I’d be happy to be a Tea Party Tory).

There’s a clear pattern here.  Far from demonstrating intellect and economic expertise, Huhne demonstrates slavish commitment to an ideological proposition — European Monetary Union — and an inability to check ideology against the facts on the ground.  This leads him into disastrous policy prescriptions.  Fortunately, in the case of the €uro, he wasn’t able to drag the British people with him down his European cul-de-sac.

Sadly, this was not the case with his other main ideological idée fixe, climate change.  On the environment, David Cameron decided to put the fox in charge of the hen-house.  For a year and a half, Huhne has been in charge of the quaintly-named Department of Energy and Climate Change.   And he has done huge damage with his lunatic wind-power plans which will take decades, and huge sums of money, to repair.  He has arguably done more damage to the visual environment in Britain than anyone since the Luftwaffe — and even they generally left the countryside alone.

The Climate Change Act may have been a crime perpetrated by the previous Labour Administration, but they’ve been enthusiastically abetted, since mid-2010, by Huhne, in the role he has so recently vacated.  The energy policies of this “economic expert” threaten to bring our economy to its knees.  He has presided over policies which will massively add to industry’s costs, and undermine Britain’s competitiveness.  They will drive — are driving — energy intensive industries out of the UK altogether.  They will cost us jobs, and investment, and prosperity.  They will (unless rapidly reversed) impoverish our grandchildren.

Huhne’s policies will also lead to extensive power outages and black-outs by the end of the decade.  Huhne seemed blissfully unaware that if he wanted massive new capacity from randomly intermittent generating technologies, he would also need conventional back-up, which for technical reasons pretty well has to be gas.  Nor does he realise that if he’s going to need the same capacity all over again, in gas, he may as well just build the gas and forget the wind power.

And if his policies are a disaster for industry and competitiveness and energy security, they are equally disastrous for voters, for families, and (especially) for pensioners.  Wind power is hugely regressive.  It takes money from poor pensioners (on their electricity bills) and gives it in subsidies to wealthy land-owners and power companies.  So much for the Lib-Dems’ much-vaunted fairness and social justice.  Chris Huhne will be largely responsible for a million additional households being forced into fuel poverty.  And it’s not too melodramatic to say that he will be largely responsible for thousands of unnecessary excess winter deaths from cold-related causes.

So we have good reason to applaud his departure in tawdry circumstances.  The tragedy is that he wasn’t ousted before he did so much damage.

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10 Responses to Huhne: ideology before rationality

  1. I’m sure it is a huge mis-understanding and Huhne will yet be proven innocent. Mr Huhne, family man, art lover, businessman, political paperweight, protector of the countryside, energetically robust, and champion of fair ploy, simply had to resign in the face of a change in the present climate. He will, I’m sure be back when the mis-understanding is resolved.

  2. maureen gannon says:

    Hope your tongue is in your cheek , and your ‘avin a larf. Fen ,
    The man is a liar and a cheat along with many others in the H.O C.

  3. Jon says:

    “He has arguably done more damage to the visual environment in Britain than anyone since the Luftwaffe”

    really? Surely this post is not a mixture of ideology, schadenfreude and hyperbole.

    Did you know DECC and the DoH are putting a lot of effort into fuel-poverty work, making people more energy efficient.

    Also, the argument about bills – whilst the FiTs system should be more equitable (and like with nuclear an oil should probably have come from direct subsidy not bills) – the cost of fuels with private companies making billions of pounds in profit should also be examined. They are quick to raise costs when the inputs rise, but slow to reduce when the inputs fall. Perhaps that is more significant, but wouldn’t fit with the narrative you are telling.

    We don’t have a lot of renewables yet in this country, but we do have a lot of hot air about it which extends far beyond the the technical debate.

    • “DECC are putting a lot of work into … energy efficiency”. And urging people to shop around. And declaring that groups of householders can form cooperatives to negotiate better deals with suppliers. Yes, Jon. In other words, they are fiddling at the margin with essentially trivial measures that may get the odd headline, while the cost of subsidies drives up prices massively. It’s called politics, but it’s not a scrap of good against fuel poverty.

    • Axel says:

      Of course it is actually far worse than Mr. Helmer has described. The reality is that Chris Huhne was a prominent Member of the Green Fiscal Commission, whose stated aim is to reduce manufacturing and heavy industry in the UK, by the imposition of so called “green taxes”. So then there is a deliberate mendacity about his reasons for the actions he took, while Chris Huhne was Secretary of State. Even worse, associate and Minister at the DECC, Conservative Greg Barker was a fellow member of the Green Fiscal Commission too, and can be “trusted” to promote the phoney and bogus agenda, even under the leadership of a new Secretary of State. Sadly also, fellow Conservative DECC Minister Charles Hendry, although he has no professional knowledge, expertise or standing with regard to his own brief at the DECC, continues to make risible, if not downright fraudulent public statements about Energy and Climate Change.

      When will the DPP move in on these peddlers of Hokum and Criminal Fraud ?

  4. Ian says:

    I am convinced that Cameron gave the energy portfolio to the LibDems in order to discredit them as the fuel bills soared. Pity he didn’t give them defence too.

  5. leg says:

    fenbeagleblog is an idiot.

  6. Simon CS says:

    If he is that intelligent, then his policies and actions in the face of such obvious and unequivocal evidence to the contrary can only be seen as deliberate. In this circumstance, the extraction of ‘green’ taxes, directly and indirectly, can only be seen as criminal deceit. Whilst perverting the course of justice is very serious, he should also be charged with conspiracy to defraud.

    Until a criminal conviction of a senior politician for such, they will continue to pedal this AGW lie.

    Roger, our new Energy Secretary is quite able to redefine the targets under Section 2 of the Climate Change Act, by its established cluases, as new evidence!science is now available, effectively scrapping them. As 100 MPs have already called for the reduction of subsidies for onshore windfarms, they should be encouraged to rally behind George Osborn, and push for this target redefinition, relieve the pressure on industry to enable them to be competitive again, relieve millions of households of the green levy on fuel bills, and so help turn the economy around.

  7. Malcolm Edward says:

    Well said, Roger.

    You used very measured language given the scale of the widespread problem of ideology over evidence and common sense, and the increasing damage the ideology is going to cause our nation.

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