Today is a month exactly from the UK general election as well as the last day of the G20 summit in Hamburg. Michael Gove is a UK politician who was not expecting to return to the cabinet after his sacking last year. The Blob is a 1958 American science-fiction horror film, according to Wikipedia. And what does any of that have to do with climate?
The Green Blob
Our key phrase was coined by Owen Paterson, Environment Secretary between September 2012 and July 2014. Gove was Education Secretary when Owen started. He and his team, with Dominic Cummings as special adviser, had christened their opponents The Blob – “the nexus of unions, bureaucrats, councillors and others with a vested interest in an unreformed schools system” as Fraser Nelson later put it. In fact, if you can persuade the Telegraph to let you, you might want to try Fraser’s article of December 2014, The Blob gobbled up Michael Gove – now it’s coming for David Cameron. But it wasn’t really The Blob that got Cameron in the end.
Paterson taking this term in 2012 and applying it to “the nexus of bureaucrats, councillors, international climatists, crony capitalists, impact modellers and others with a vested interest in supporting the green movement, dodgy science and related mitigation scams” (let’s say) was a rare moment of enjoyment for some of us watching UK politics. Predictably The Blob responded with “denier” and its various cognates and Cameron ditched Paterson after less than two years.
If you google The Blob today you don’t just get the 1958 film and Gove but a more recent use:
Ben Rhodes, President Barack Obama’s aspiring novelist speechwriter turned foreign policy wingman, famously claimed to hate what he called The Blob in a laudatory and much discussed New York Times Magazine profile last year.
That’s from a piece from Politico in March/April called Trump Takes on The Blob (a fun read if anyone has a moment). Swiftly followed by How the Washington blob swallowed Donald Trump in the Financial Times. You get the idea. What might have been called the foreign policy establishment in more prosaic times.
G20 and The Blob
Trump certainly seemed to depart from the normal script expected by The Blob in his speech at the site of the 1944 Warsaw Uprising two days ago. It depends how you see The Blob of course. One man’s blob is another man’s binary large object, after all. But for me David French, by no means a Trump fanboy in all respects, makes a good case, from the words of Obama and Dubya, that the President was making a distinctive break with the old.
As French’s piece shows many have since angrily accused Trump of racism, white nationalism and the like. I’m happy to agree with the National Review man that such invective show little understanding of what’s being argued. Likewise a large mob in Hamburg is angry. As one TV reporter said from the scene, every person there seems to have a different agenda, from veganism to globalism, but they’re united in one thing: they hate Donald Trump.
But the other unifying stick with which to beat the orange one, this time with his other nineteen G20 leaders happy to join in publicly, is climate and the foolish, toothless Paris agreement. Isn’t that amazing? I think sometimes we’re so used to the irrationality that we fail to take a step back.
There are more important things than climate, surely, as I said in my first Cliscep post. Reduction of every virtue to climate virtue not just incredibly dumb but damaging. Because he hasn’t done that Steve McIntyre sees clearly that Ivanka’s weeping over an al-Qaeda propaganda video of some poor Syrian children they probably murdered themselves, and the consequent reported change in Trump’s foreign policy, is somewhat bigger beer.
I’d argue that Climate Scepticism is above all the conviction that climate really isn’t that important. And sometimes we need to make clear what is.
Gove and the Green Blob
As far as I know Michael Gove doesn’t agree with Steve McIntyre on Khan Sheikhoun and would still advocate the removal of Assad. But that’s not his brief in Theresa May’s new government – he’s been given the job Owen Paterson had, heading up the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs. Between Paterson then and Gove now we’ve had the little matter of the vote for Brexit on 23rd June 2016, something that can surely be seen as a successful continuation of the battle begun against The Blob in Education, with Dominic Cummings a strange mixture of reluctant ideological and tactical continuity.
As I mentioned two threads back, Cummings has begun to tweet in response to some key gloomy Remainer-tweeters this week. Here are three of his thoughts glued together, with expansion of shortened forms, from two days ago:
Leavers outside the Cabinet should worry less about the Brexit talks. Will be botched but not so important. Should focus on new ideas where the UK can create huge value. Single Market is yesterday, we should focus on the future: bio-engineering, AI and new industries, new models for regulation, finance etc. It’s silly to be pessimistic about the talks as if the future is defined mostly by them. It isn’t. It can be defined by what we choose to focus on and build — here, here, here
And building something new outside the EU is what I think Gove is going to try to do in DEFRA, based on the early signs. He like the Prime Minister has also criticised Trump for pulling out of Paris, much to the chagrin of his old friend from Oxford and the Telegraph, James Delingpole. But I think Gove has learned a thing or two about how The Blob works in general and has seen a weakness in the Green Blob: they’re really not very green, by any sensible definition of that term. He’s going to try and wrest the colour from them.
This is based on a number of things I’ve watched and read of late, prominent among them Gove’s interview on the Andrew Marr Show last Sunday and with Tim Shipman the same day behind the Murdoch paywall. (Best line: “He now says he cannot get enough of experts.”) Perhaps most intriguing for the future is Trevor Kavanagh‘s short piece that night in The Sun, which remains tentatively hopeful for Gove as Prime Minister one day. But you don’t have to entertain that wild idea to think Gove and the Green Blob may be a compelling match for as long as the May administration manages to last.
There won’t be any, from me. Others in the Cliscep core team are welcome to remove pointless rudeness, therefore, if they want. I won’t. I expect to be busy with other things from Monday.