Or Inuits. Whichever you prefer.
The Prime Minister has taken it upon himself this week to go about privatising literally anything he can think of, in an ill-advised attempt to gain empathy with the working class by becoming a reincarnation of Del Boy from Only Fools and Horses.
Starting with the news that your hernia operation will be carried out by the highest bidder (if you have rich enemies and a dodgy heart I advise keeping the need for a bypass very quiet indeed…) and finishing with a masterful plan which consisted of the words ‘MONEY’ and ‘BIRCH’ scrawled onto a page three hundred times, the PM is showing the classic signs of going absolutely bat-shit crazy.
I’ll maybe leave the NHS stuff to another time. Largely because I don’t want to give myself an aneurysm and have it fixed by a self-made farmer from Truro who “always fancied myself as a bit of a surgeoner my handsome. Now, where’s them shears?”
Focusing on the tall leafy things then, first thing to say is what on earth happened at that cabinet meeting?
“Right guys, we’ve made progress. We’ve sold the NHS, we’ve sold them down the river on education, we’re selling the post office…I don’t know, I just think we need something else to really make this a fire-sale…wait. Fire…forest fire. Forests!”
An idea is born. I call it ‘oakpocalypse’. I don’t think it’ll catch on.
As I understand it, the government has 150,000 hectares of prime British woodland just sitting there not making money. Someone obviously told them that money doesn’t grow on trees and they’ve gone and run with that notion spectacularly. So they’re going to flog them on the proviso that the buyers can’t chop the lot down.
If private buyers can’t chop the lot down, i.e. develop it, then the immediate question of’who the fuck will buy a forest?’ springs to mind. What possible use could any person or group have with a large number of protected trees?
I can see a couple of reasons why you might buy in:
1) Carbon credits – Trees suck up CO2. Companies pump out CO2. Companies have to stop pumping out CO2. Companies buy trees. Simples. Obviously this will mean that woodland bought by companies will be off limits to the public; can’t have Johnny Public stomping round eating picnics and ruining the carbon sinks can we?
2) Profit – Fence it off, charge entry. Enjoy the ever-dwindling gifts of nature for only £3.50 per day.
3) Because you can – You just know some oligarch would do it just to use ‘Would you like to come and see my wood?’ as a chat up line.
Government spokespeople are claiming that they envisage the main buyers as community groups and local people, which really rubs the salt in. Effectively their grand plan is to take public property, something which has always been free and, as the title would suggest, public, and sell it back to us. Then let us pay for the upkeep.
Correct me if I’m wrong, but I think that’s generally known as a con.