Saturday, August 17, 2013

Is the "Right" Fracking Up?

I don't know about the rest of you, but I for one am really enjoying this fracking debate., purely because it has shattered the unity of the right wing, whose ascendancy in the past few years has seemed so unstoppable. Having largely prevailed in the economic discourse since 2008, and with UKIP's (admittedly overstated) rise seeming to show that they have gained the upper hand in that most contentious of arguments, that over EU membership, it seemed that the cosy certainties of small "c" conservatism were set to dominate the national agenda. Energy, however, remains the Achilles Heel of conservative ideology. Put simply, if you want things the way they've always been, what happens when you absolutely have to change?

Previously, the only real alternative to traditional forms of power generation (discounting the Nuclear option, which would surely be even more contentious than the fracking issue) could be easily label "leftie." Suddenly, this has been shaken up (pun intended) by the emergence of (allegedly)earthquake-inducing fracking as a viable option. And suddenly you've got hordes of homeowners from the traditional Tory heartlands of the South East joining forces with environmental activists to stage direct action against Big Energy and Big Government.

In the Big Issue this week (buy a copy - it's worth it) there is a feature on so-called Nimby-ism, in which one resident of Balcombe labels herself a Lamby ("Looking After My Back Yard"). This may make her seem a bit selfish (what about everyone else's back yards?), but it does underline the problem the Right is going to face as it tries to manage a stark conflict between two of its dearest causes - generating profit, and maintaining the status quo.

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