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Green MEP: It’s time to put an end to these cheap flights, damnit.

Most politicians, at present, are desperately casting around for ideas on how to make things less expensive, in the face of the worst inflationary crisis since the early 1990s. With prices for everything soaring (Electric Ireland hammered everybody yesterday with a 24% price increase) it is logical that politicians would want to chase votes by bringing prices down. But we said, “most politicians”. Not “all politicians”:

In purely political terms, this won’t do Cuffe any harm, of course: The Greens tend to draw their votes from people who don’t rely on the ten-euro flight and could quite comfortably absorb an increase in the cost of Ryanair. After all, that’s sort of a core part of the entire green strategy: We need to do less of X, which means making X more expensive, but also – and this is a critical part – making X more exclusive.

Imagine getting to go to Ibiza and knowing that not only is the environment better off because you paid more, but also that there are fewer yobbos there in Liverpool and Celtic and GAA shirts drinking beer, of all things, and carrying signs saying, “up the town”. It’s the best of both worlds, for a certain class of middle-class voter.

It’s precisely that kind of flying that the greens detest. Some flying is necessary: After all, heading off to the latest conference on biodiversity in Geneva or New York is important work, so long as you are sure to pay for carbon offsets for your flight. That kind of thing will have to continue, regardless of the climate. The stuff they do not like, at all, is the kind of situation where young people celebrate their achievements by heading to the Costa Del Sol on an ultra-cheap holiday, in search of sun, sea, and all the rest. Wouldn’t they be better off hiking around the Wicklow Mountains?

The class-based element to Green politics is rarely analysed, but it’s there. It’s important to remember that Greens are, at their heart, Malthusians. That is to say, they subscribe to the ideas of the Reverend Thomas Malthus, who postulated in 1798 that since resources are scarce, and the human population keeps growing, eventually we would consume the entire planet and endure a mass famine.

This, therefore, is why Greens are often so very keen to encourage people to have fewer children: They genuinely believe that more people, ultimately, results in disaster.

The problem there is that when you start thinking like that, it is very easy to start looking at your fellow humans as a problem, and to begin to divide them into categories like “useful” and “wasteful”.

And so, we see Greens develop, over time, a very class-based politics where the poorest and least cultured classes are inherently – if not openly – seen as a plague upon the earth. They drink cheap beer and get drunk and get liver disease. They fly around the world puffing out CO2. They drive diesel cars. They heat their homes with dirty things like peat, and coal. They must, in other words, be improved.

Of course, improving them means taking away their opportunities to do harm: No more flights. No more cheap drink. No more cheap heating.

All of these things can still be afforded by people like us, though. People who use them responsibly.

Let’s be clear: I am not arguing that this is a conscious line of thought. Ciarán Cuffe would doubtless be horrified at the idea that he wants to specifically punish the poorest people. I am simply arguing that it is an inevitable consequence of the Green worldview on these matters. When you make things more expensive and more rare and more exclusive, you begin to have an inherent political appeal to snobs.

So, Cuffe won’t pay a political price for this. Eventually, sure as night follows day, a policy like this will be adopted. Rich television broadcasters – Claire Byrne was practically made for this – will argue that we should all bear the environmental costs of our actions and rich experts, seated on her panel, will agree. NGOs will point, as they always do, to “international moves in this area”. Politicians, blinded as they ever are by a bit of celebrity and the chance to bring Ireland “in line with other countries” will follow suit. The chattering classes will nod. The “up the town” fellows will have no voice in the whole thing either way.

More than anything, this process explains the political alignment underway in the English speaking world: It is why towns that voted Labour for years in England are now voting for Brexit, and the Tories. It is why Sinn Fein is eating into the FF, FG, vote. It is why some large portion of Americans would rather have that man than, say, poor old Jeb Bush.

Class war is back, in the west. Perhaps it never went away.

 

 

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