Sunday, October 28, 2007
FUNDING OF "ENVIRONMENTAL" LOBBYISTS
The rise of the "environmental" movement over the last few decades is usually portrayed as a triumph of a popular grass roots movement over nasty big business interests. Perhaps some of it initially was but it is clear there are a lot of full time staffers organising the spontaneous popular movement.
I noticed, for example, that in the recent Heathrow protest, where initially the media promised thousands would turn up, but this was later reduced to hundreds, the first day appeared to be devoted to putting up large numbers of tents preparatory to the actual people turning up. Clearly money for this protest was much more easily available than real human protesters, though the media naturally were silent on this.
Recently it was discovered that Friends of the Earth, far from being a grassroots organisation, are largely funded by the EU & member states. FoI are, of course, on the BBC almost daily "protesting".
On a previous occasion in online debate in the Scotsman it was pointed out to me that ASH had been given £3 million by the government to lobby the government for the smoking ban.
The Soil Association is currently redefining their definition of "organic" (a somewhat meaningless term to start with) to no longer mean food grown without pesticides but food grown in countries where it can be brought to market fresh here without aircraft. That is to say it has become a de facto UK protectionist organisation rather than merely an organisation for farmers to lobby for higher prices. It is less clear about the division of its funding
However the way it lists contributors (1) Lottery & statutory bodies (2) charitable trusts, which can cover a lot of sins but usually means very rich people, (3) companies & last & probably least (4) "Finally, we would like to pay tribute to the extraordinary generosity of an ever-growing number of individuals who have made donations" which strongly suggests that money from ordinary people is the merest token.
Just as political parties are relying, to an ever increasing extent, on rich donors (or in the case of Eastern European countries donations from "pro-democracy" western sources) we are seeing "environmentalists" being employees of the government bureaucracies they are meant to be lobbying. It is hardly surprising then if they always lobby for more government bureaucracy & control of our lives.
This perhaps explains how "grassroots" Luddite pro-regulation bodies grow. They are fed by gobs of government money & watered by massive media coverage (eg the massive coverage given to a few hundred people over several days at Heathrow) - this is known as "astroturfing". Meanwhile groups supporting freedom or even merely sanity are rendered invisible.
I may be biased since, a few weeks before my expulsion from the LibDems I spoke against a party motion to ensure that control of Scottish industry was handed over to government inspectors pledged to ensure businesses were run according to the wishes of "special interest groups". Perhaps, in the interest of freedom statutory bodies (including the lottery) should be given a legal duty to ensure that when they donate to a political cause they must give comparable donations to opposing bodies. This is currently the rule under the Education Act, which, while actually not enforced by the court, at least belatedly led to the judge deciding that the true facts be at least mentioned by teachers showing Gore's propaganda lies.