A climate referendum – the battle for truth

Photo by John McColgan Wikimedia Commons

“First, we need to change the debate. This debate needs more clarity, not more emotion. The test should be: do we have the fairest credible path to reach Net Zero by 2050, in a way that brings people with us?”

Rishi Sunak, Sept 20, 2023


Don’t blow the choreography.

Sunak’s speech on Wednesday September 20 was undoubtedly remarkable, scraping a new low in almost every way. It limbo-ed from low aspiration to being even lower on truth (misleading and false statements, imaginary non-existent policies being ‘stopped’) bottoming out on almost every yardstick.

“Now, I am here today to tell you that we do not have to be powerless. Our future doesn’t have to be a foregone conclusion.”

But what really chilled me was the shadow choreography that lurked within its hollow bones: the whole facade revolved around gaining ‘consent’ of the British people – sidestepping the issue around the fact that neither Truss nor Sunak himself had even actually been elected.

“Our destiny can be of our own choosing. But only if we change the way our politics works.”

It chilled me because, behind Sunak’s statements on needing a ‘new national debate’, there lurked a grim and manipulative unspoken agenda, and one which GB News happily spoke out loud in perfect synchronicity in their very first ‘question’ to Sunak:

“Why not put Net Zero by 2050 to a referendum of the British people?”

And there you have it: the inevitability of the slow descent to another national referendum permeates this whole false narrative of doublethink.

As the carefully curated hysteria and national temperature rises, a pattern will emerge. First it will be left to ‘media’ such as GB News to whisper it like a mantra. Then carefully selected Conservative Party stooges will start to voice it out loud.

We’ll be told not to trust experts as they don’t live in the real world – unlike multi multi-millionaire Sunak who travels everywhere by helicopter. And then, when the Net Zero calculations are crunched by the Climate Change Committee and the facts remain stubborn that we are way off target, Sunak himself will gently insinuate the idea that the ‘debate’ should be one for the people, not the politicians. And then the war for truth will begin, and it will be far dirtier than any that’s come before.

With so much of the media controlled by billionaires, the media will be awash with selective facts, misleading statements and blatant lies – and all controlled by ultra-wealthy and privileged proprietors. The nebulous ‘Project Fear’ will again be wheeled out. And the same far-right voices will pop up and spread misleading statements and false narrative soundbites pitched perfectly for amplification by social media algorithms.

We are already deep into murky waters.

Sunak himself did a fine job of kicking the murk up behind him during his Net Zero ‘Reset’ speech. He smashed up ‘the truth’ with every line he delivered, like a beam trawler through a coral reef, flinging false statement after imaginary policy. It was a shameful exhibition of a man deliberately conning the country – live – on TV. He performed a carefully rehearsed and meticulously written speech, purposefully peppered with misdirection for the British public. The ‘7 recycling bins’, the ‘meat tax’, ‘compulsory car sharing’, it was carefully calculated to ensure any ‘national debate’ got off entirely on the wrong foot.

Or rather the right foot…

because the whole speech was meant to be misleading. After all, inaccuracy and ‘mistruth’ is the mainline drug the Conservative cartel currently deals in. It leads to the public throwing their arms in the air in frustration and confusion, losing trust in ‘facts’, declaring they’ve had enough of ‘experts’ and instead focusing on more ‘immediate’ issues – the Government’s endemic cost of living crisis, junior doctors trashing the NHS, activist lefty lawyers sabotaging immigration policy.

As the shadow choreography becomes more apparent over the coming months, the exact question the inevitable ‘Climate Referendum’ will ‘debate’ will become more binary, more divisive, more existential. And ‘the truth’ will seem ever more elusive, drowned under competing newspaper headlines, fuelled by lobbying. The truth will be set on fire for political expediency by arsonists in suits, in pursuit of a peerage.

And when the ‘Climate Referendum’ hits – just before the general election – it will make the perfect testing ground for the Conservative Party to fly their electoral ‘kite’. Its result can either be disowned (whilst held up as a triumph of democracy in letting the populace take back control of decision making) or be the ‘proof’ that the ‘green crap’ has finally had its day.

‘Consent’ from the British public will have been ‘achieved’.

Either way, the ‘Climate Referendum’ is coming.

And it will take all our ingenuity in working out how we can ensure the real scientific evidence and true economic facts get out there – and in an inclusive way.

Because Sunak has opened the way.

“And this is just the start. What we begin today, is bigger than any single policy or issue. We are going to change the way our politics works. We are going to make different decisions.”

Make no mistake, the battle for truth has begun, and we are all going to have to learn fast from the Brexit referendum on how to avoid ‘Project Fear’ and reunite people with the truth about climate.

It will be a struggle that will make Brexit look like the golden years.

Let’s bring people along with the truth, and let’s set about doing it now, because there is no time to waste.

Jim Funnell is the author of Brixham Chimes, contact him at www.jimfunnell.net or on X