My brother refuses to watch football anymore because he can’t stand the amount of ‘simulation’ that goes on – that is, players diving on the ground and feigning injury in order to convince the referee to award them a free-kick, or caution or send-off a member of the opposite team in order to gain an advantage. What really annoys him though is that it’s called ‘simulation’ at all. What it really should be called is cheating, because that’s what it is, and in many other sports if you deliberately cheat you get a serious fine or ban or even banned for life. The authorities say that they don’t condone it but then do nothing to stamp it out. It’s not beyond the wit of man for them to find a way to do this – reviewing games afterwards using the wonders of Sky+ to identify particularly blatant examples, and then banning all offenders for 6-months – would surely send out the right message and quickly bring the practice (for televised games at least) to a halt. The fact that FIFA say they want to stop it but then don’t even call it by its proper name or use their vast resources to do anything about it is utterly misleading.
This is, to use ones imagination a little, exactly the kind of thing that happens in government and for elections all the time. The government will promise one thing (ring-fencing NHS funding anyone?) and then post-election deliver something completely different. If anyone ever questions them about it they might make an excuse as to why they changed their mind, but despite what they say it’s generally an exercise in ‘politics’ – basically lying about your intentions in order to win votes and elections and ultimately gain power. All parties do it but this government was particularly brash when David Cameron, early in 2010, pledged that he wanted his government to be ‘the greenest government ever‘. Speaking about the environment and climate change he said “there is a fourth minister in this department who cares passionately about this agenda and that is me, the prime minister, right. I mean that from the bottom of my heart”.
A year on, Friends of the Earth commissioned a comprehensive report to assess how the government had performed on this pledge and found that, far from being the ‘greenest government ever’ (regardless of your subjective view on what that would actually mean), this government has been decidedly below average. The author Jonathon Poritt concludes that it is “unavoidably depressing to see just how rapidly things have gone backwards since May 2010″. Since then the picture has got even worse with proposed new road-building projects, a shamefully-populist return to weekly bin collections, and the possibility of an increase in the speed-limit to 80mph. When combined these measures will encourage people to drive more dangerously, burn more fossil fuels, recycle less, and send more waste to landfill. The icing on this particular cake is Chancellor George Osborne’s recent announcement at the Conservative Party Conference that Britain would be abandoning it’s position as a leader on green issues and will not go an inch further than that legally required by the EU. This doesn’t sound like the ‘greenest government ever’ to me.
So what do we make of this pledge? Was it a good intention but conveniently too difficult to act on, or did the Conservatives have no intention of actually fulfilling it? I would suggest, from the evidence presented in the FoE report, that it is the latter. In which case the government was deliberately misleading the population in the hope that they would gain support from ‘green’ voters. ‘Politics’ as usual? Lets call a spade a spade and hold governments to account when they deliberately lie to the people they supposedly serve in order to gain undue favour.
- “Perhaps the sentiments contained in the following pages, are not yet sufficiently fashionable to procure them general favour; a long habit of not thinking a thing wrong, gives it a superficial appearance of being right, and raises at first a formidable outcry in defence of custom. But the tumult soon subsides. Time makes more converts than reason”
- Thomas Payne, 'Common Sense'