Saturday, March 14, 2009

Sian Berry vs George Monbiot

Sian Berry, Green candidate for Mayor of London last year, has a very entertaining blogpost called 'Suffragettes vs the fighter pilot tendency' :

On the one hand, Sian writes, there are an increasing number of young women activists:

"Nowadays though, if there's even the slightest hint of cleverness or media-savvy about a campaign, you can bet your life that one of a growing band of courageous, intelligent young woman is behind it. If it's not Tamsin Omond getting 2,000 suffragettes to mob parliament, then it's Ariane Sherine raising a saturation-level media budget for the Atheist Bus campaign with nothing more than a great idea and the guts to put it out there. And this week Leila Deen succeeded where George Osborne failed and out-spinned Mandelson with an inspired act of flan flinging."

And on the other, some of the leaders of the green movement such as George Monbiot and Mark Lynas are letting Team Green down:

"Meanwhile, though, the alpha males of the green movement are letting the side down badly and handing the nuclear industry great lumps of PR gold by ‘embracing' nuclear power with varying degrees of headline-grabbing enthusiasm.

Like the young women mentioned above, these chaps have a few physical and biographical characteristics in common, largely a tendency to be over 45 with the haircut of a WW2 fighter pilot and the experience to know better than play so crudely into the hands of an industry on the make.

<...>

"This kind of thing boils my blood for two main reasons. One is that I was a metallurgy student and, as such, have been inside several nuclear power stations, here and abroad, without needing either smelling salts or an exorcism. My opposition to nuclear is based on the fact that - like letting a big supermarket drive your town's regeneration programme - it is such a distraction when there are so many other, less technically challenging, more job-heavy, cheaper, easier, quicker, etc etc projects out that would balance energy needs with production and cut carbon at the same time. It is emphatically not because I think it is inherently dangerous or filled with dark cunning and evil.

The second is that, combined with their deep voices and 1940s haircuts, this rhetoric from the alpha males frames the issue in a ‘practical expert versus excitable hysteric' narrative that is very hard to counteract if you are following one of them in a debate and are young and female. No matter how much science you can quote, you're never going to get people to think you are making sense in that context if you look like an MMR-shy mum."

And she finishes with some criticism for Chris Goodall, the pro-nuclear Green candidate in Oxford West and Abingdon:

"in politics you're not just lobbying your MP, you're trying to get them sacked and offering yourself as a better alternative to replace them. Instead of accepting these ‘facts on the ground' and actively promoting your acceptance - and the choice you have made from a stacked deck - you should be putting a hell of a lot more effort into challenging such a blinkered view of energy policy.

With the election due in a year or less, any Green candidate who so meekly allows the rules of the game to be set by their opponent is clearly not up to the job - and I bet there are a lot of talented, intelligent young women in Oxford who could do it much better."

1 Comments:

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