Oh, dearie me. In a bitter article in the Sunday Telegraph just a few days after Cameron sacked him as Environment Minister, Owen Paterson lashed out at “the ‘Green Blob’ of environmental pressure groups, renewable energy groups and public officials who keep each other well supplied with lavish funds, scare stories and green tape.”
Then he got personal:
He criticised a ‘rich pop star’ (Brian May) for standing up for badgers, saying that May had ‘never been faced with having to cull a pregnant heifer.’
A gratuitous and most unchivalrous pop followed at national treasure Vivienne Westwood for opposing fracking. He called her ‘a dress designer for whom energy bills are trivial concerns.’
George Monbiot got it in the neck as ‘a public school journalist who thinks the solution to environmental problems…is Back to the Stone Age, but Glastonbury style.’
And he couldn’t resist a blob job on me, either: ‘a luxury chocolate tycoon uninterested in the demonstrable environmental and humanitarian benefits of GM crops’.
For the record: I have been interested in those demonstrable benefits every since they were first promised in 1996. I’m still waiting. Things are getting worse, not better. Herbicide resistant weeds are forcing farmers to use herbicides that were banned for very good reason more than a decade ago. Why should anyone want this in Britain?
Paterson should have saved his venom for Cameron, who realised that having someone like him on the front bench was electoral suicide. In their parting row Paterson was overheard saying: “You can’t sack me, it’s a smash in the face for 12 million people who live in the countryside.” Then he stuck the knife in and twisted the blade: “I can out-ukip UKIP” he is said to have shouted. If anything, that probably confirmed Cameron that he’d made the right decision.
But what if Gove and Paterson, as George Monbiot has suggested, set up a British ‘Tea Party?’ In the USA ‘Tea Party’ has connotations of freedom-loving Bostonians dumping tea in the sea as a protest against tax-grabbing government. In Britain ‘Tea Party’ just conjures up images of mad hatters and people who have ‘believed six impossible things before breakfast.’ Hmmm. Funnily enough it was an earlier manifestation of the Green Blob in Britain that pushed for the 1898 ban on the use of mercury in hat making, while in the US the hatters unions failed to get similar protection. In 1945 80% of American felt hat makers had mercurial tremors, the dreaded ‘hatters shakes.’ In Britain the same disease had become a rarity by 1910. Go figure.
I feel honoured to have been celebrated as being one of the influential forces that made Paterson’s job such a struggle of imagined good against perceived evil. The trouble with being honoured in a newspaper article is that it is too ephemeral – tomorrow’s fish and chips. How about making it official? I’d love to be able to put the initials O.G.B after my name, marking my elevation to the Most Noble Order of the Green Blob. Otherwise next year nobody will remember that I was ranked with Brian May, Vivienne Westwood and George Monbiot as an enemy of the industrialised countryside of Paterson’s dreams. No fracking, no GM crops, no badger massacres. I doubt that Paterson’s 12 million country dwellers are sorry about that.
Back in 1958 my girl friend cuddled a little closer when we watched a new horror movie called The Blob. The Blob came from outer space and slowly changed from green to pink as it got bigger and bigger by eating the inhabitants of a small town. Then a clever kid noticed it hated freezing temperatures so they sprayed it with cold air from CO2 fire extinguishers. Frozen almost solid it was flown to the North Pole where it was dropped in a place where the ice would never melt. Oops! Let’s keep it there by not fracking, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, not overstocking cows, and planting trees instead of GMO biofuel crops.
By Craig Sams
Organic food pioneer and polemicist
Craig Sams is Britain’s best known natural food pioneer. He is the founder of Green & Blacks, a former Soil Association chairman and the author of The Little Food Book.