Diary of an Acclimatised Beauty: Hunting

There’s nothing like a weekend in the country especially when all of London is going to be there! I’m speaking, of course, of going for a shooting holiday, and honestly I can’t wait. I’ve three days to pack, get a manicure, some new frocks, and a coiff from Daniel at Jo Hansford

Judith (mummy) is so glad I’m preserving tradition but she forgets ‘tradition’ used to come with a small staff. She should have stayed home to help me but as usual—poof—the ever-vanishing Judith. And a shooting holiday always requires shooting clothes. Lots. So where are mine? I rifled through the wardrobe in the spare room, the crawl space in my childhood room, the trunk under the stairs—nothing. I’d hoped to take my things straightaway to Jeeves for freshening but I was going to have to wait for Judith. With little chance of success, I started poking through the hall closet when daddy became aware of my frustration.

‘Looking for something? Plastic straws perhaps? Because we’re all out—been feeding them to dolphins’, Daddy said. 

‘Ha. Not funny’ I replied, ‘and anyway it’s sea turtles’. I was not in the mood. ‘I’m looking for my sporting clothes’. I said. 

‘Maybe in California?’

‘Oh my god, NO!’ I shouted back. He knows they aren’t there but he can’t resist a chance to bug me about my house in LA.

‘Maybe at the country house?’ he said. 

‘Why would they be at the country house?’ I asked. 

‘Because it’s — the country?’

The way we were.

UGH! Of course that’s where they were. And now I had to decide whether to drive to the country or pop over to James Purdey. ‘Tradition’ doesn’t make it easy to be an environmentalist. The risk of buying new was that only Americans show up to a hunt with spanking-new clothes. It’s just not the done thing. What a mess!

I thought of calling Isabella Lloyd Webber whom I know from so many eventing weekends but I knew she’d sooner pay someone to break in her clothes than show up looking naff. I bit the bullet and immediately felt better upon arrival at Purdey’s. The salesman was quite chatty and said I’d just missed Gemma Owen who left with three bags (new!), that they’d shipped loads to Delphi and Marina Primrose (new and new), and they’d earlier served Lord William Gordon Lennox, though one expects to see him in new everything—I’d never seen him out of his signature cream suit.

When I reached home I saw my broker had called twice. WHY?? I’m not some high-flying trader with margin calls. I’m not even sure I know what a margin call is but seems he wanted me to sell all interests in rechargeable e-scooters. I’d taken a rather large position owing to the benefit to the environment. Plus we expect them to be wildly popular once they become permanently legal. But it seems London had 130 e-bike blazes in the last year alone. 

‘But it’s the trial period…’ I protested, and he told me e-bikes had caused more than 200 fires in New York, including a quite-bad high-rise fire. He went on about impending lawsuits, poor-quality parts, and an entire e-scooter maintenance facility had gone up in smoke.

It's all fun and games until somebody bursts into flames.

‘But that’s China’s fault—they are giving us poorly-designed batteries, we just need more regulation’ I insisted. I heard my father snicker in the background and I realised just how futile my protest sounded. ‘Fine then sell!’ I said. ‘Sell it all’. It was a blow and felt I was letting the planet down. All except for the black smoke and lithium solvent contamination.

I put my new clothes in the solarium to air out and headed up to my room. It had been a trying day but all of my hard work paid off when two days later our helicopter loomed over Inveraray—the first of several spectacular locations. I hadn’t been here since their now-defunct horse trials.

The estate was now focused on winning a Purdey Award for Game Conservation and even before the hunting ball we had to sign a declaration that we, and all connected with the shoot, were conversant and in compliance with the Code of Good Shooting Practice. Inveraray’s entry this year was habitat improvements and species biodiversity.

When I got to my room and opened my bags the unmistakable smell of 'new' filled my air… it was a mix of plastic, and wool sizing. Where’s a good moth ball when you need one?

I took my place at dinner, escorted by the future Duke of Argyll and his good friend Max, a known Jack-the-Lad swept in. ‘Oooh! I know you! I’m sure I do’ he insisted. But I only knew him from his reputation: a brash, cocky university dropout who was making a career of his fast friendship and love of shooting.

Our dinner was served… this year’s winning recipe entry to the Fieldsports competition: ‘Snipe Jacket Potatoes’. It was a whole snipe, complete with head, and long legs crossed almost comically and encased in a potato cocoon. It was so much more disgusting than any bug I’d ever served and I started gagging. ‘That’s it… you’re her… that bug hostess!’ Max exclaimed as I continued to gag and fled the table. 

I decided to stay away at least until the next course. My mobile lit up with a text from my broker… ‘ALL OUT’ he wrote. I tapped back to him… ‘just out of curiosity what was the exact stock symbol of the shares we just sold? I may wish to recommend it to a new friend’.

Boris and Rishi Buy the Pyramids

For a brief moment Rishi Sunak, Britain's new prime minister, looked as if he might resist joining the rush over the cliff of climate catastrophism. Initially he decided not to attend the COP27 "climate change" summit in the former Israeli (now Egyptian) Sinai peninsula resort town of Sharm el-Sheikh on implementing the U.N.-brokered plan to cut the world’s carbon emissions to Net-Zero by 2050. Then he said his mind was open to going. Finally he went.

My interpretation of his early reluctance was that he didn’t want “to be trapped into making commitments on Net-Zero that might later be inconvenient to his overall energy and budgetary policies.” If so, that was a very prudent judgment. And to be fair, the Prime Minister resisted a great deal of political and international pressure to stick to it. Then Boris Johnson, his predecessor, announced that he would be attending the climate jamboree. That proved to be the last snowflake that triggers the avalanche. Rishi felt he had to go.

Product of British colonialism fights climate imperialism in Africa.

Even on the day before he set off to Egypt, however, it became clear that his initial prudence was as amply justified as it has been brutally violated. Consider the back story of Britain’s finances. And pay attention because recent news stories may have given you the impression that the short unhappy episode of Liz Truss as prime minister was responsible for the dire straits of Britain’s fiscal situation that includes a budgetary “black hole” of 50 billion pounds, a proposed set of tax hikes amounting to 25 billon pounds, and spending cuts of about 35 billion pounds.

In reality both Ms. Truss and her chancellor, Kwasi Kwarteng, are entirely innocent of this Mother-of-All-Shortfalls. They were in office only about a month, and none of their proposed tax-and-spending changes were even introduced in that time. When they left office, they bequeathed to their successors the same exact inheritance of fiscal and monetary problems that they had inherited. Those problems in turn were the results of the massive expenditures on Covid-19 and the lockdown, of the stay-at-home rules that have shaped a workforce that today refuses to go to factory or office, and of the quantitative easing that built up a monetary backlog that is now emerging in rapid inflation and high interest rates.

And who is responsible for all those? No one more so than the former chancellor, Rishi Sunak, unless you count his prime ministerial boss, Boris Johnson. They’re starting to look like a tag-team trying to win the race to insolvency before any other national team. And they have jointly taken a giant’s leap forward towards that result by their speeches and, yes, their commitments at the COP27 Summit.

BoJo: the damage he's done lives on.

Having pushed Rishi into going, Boris then gave a speech to the summit that pushed his former colleague further into massive financial transfers from the U.K. to developing countries. He did so by making the case that Britain was historically responsible for global warming because it had invented the industrial revolution:

The United Kingdom was one of, if not the first, industrialized nation. The first wisps of carbon came out of the factories and mills and foundries of the West Midlands 200 years ago. We started it all.

Historically speaking, that was nonsense. Even if you think that man-made carbon emissions are the sole cause of "climate change"—which is not the scientific consensus—Britain put extremely small amounts of carbon into the atmosphere for the first two hundred years of the industrial revolution. "Global warming" began in the 1970s, after the spread of modern industry around the world. Nor is it remotely true, as the leftist theory bizarrely embraced by Boris holds, that the industrial revolution was a privileged blight from which Britain and the early industrialized world derived all the benefits while the developing countries got none.

Quite the contrary. Among the benefits it brought to the whole world were modern medicine that eradicated entire diseases like smallpox and cured almost all the transmissible illnesses known to mankind; modern agricultural methods that ended famines and alleviated hunger and malnutrition; and new industries that lifted billions of people out of endemic poverty, increased living standards worldwide, and extended life expectancy well beyond “three score years and ten.” Any cost-benefit analysis that weighs those benefits against the costs of "climate change" would have to deliver a favorable verdict for the industrial revolution, which is why developing countries are all anxious to proceed with their own local versions of it.

Boris himself must have realized that he had just opened a Pandora’s Box full of prospective U.K.-financed transfer payments of incalculable expense to Africa and Asia. For he immediately tried to evade the responsibility he had just conceded by giving it a gloss of technology:

What we cannot do is make up for that in some kind of reparations. We simply do not have the financial resources. No country could. What we can do is help with the technology that can help to fix the problem.

But that realism was too late, as realism usually is for Boris. Leaders of the developing world were soon in full cry demanding the “implementation” of these and earlier promises from Western leaders. Negotiators for the U.K. and its G7 allies in the corridors and back rooms of COP27 were signaling that they were prepared to concede more money for “loss and damage” funds—a bureaucratic term of art now morphing from emergency disaster aid into reparations in disguise. And the bandwagon began to roll.

The Camp of the Saints awaits the West.

By the time that Rishi Sunak stood up to give his address only hours after Boris, he had conceded a moral responsibility to assist poorer countries to transition to a carbon-free world without actually using the word reparations. But he said that the U.K. would deliver its full pledge of 11.7 billion pounds from previous COP summits and—though vaguely—much more than that.

The bandwagon was picking up speed. But that's the purpose of COP climate summits. Once you’re at one, you can’t say nothing, and if you say something, it can’t be "no."

11.7 billion pounds too is an interesting figure—slightly more than one-fifth of the amount of money needed by the current U.K. Chancellor to fund the existing budgetary black hole in the nation’s finances. One doubts if the prime minister really wants people to remember it in ten days when the chancellor delivers his punitive tax-and-cut budgetary statement. That may explain why the government briefing of the U.K. press in Egypt, to judge from the next day’s headlines, switched from celebrating the U.K. taxpayer’s generosity at COP 27 to hailing an as yet uncompleted deal (originally embarked on by then-PM Liz Truss) for the U.K. to buy lots and lots of natural gas from the U.S. to keep Britain warm this coming winter.

As Rishi Sunak reflects on all this, he may remember uneasily an old WWII poster, revived for the Covid lockdown: Is your journey really necessary?

Rishi Sunak: the Worm Turns

Writing a few days ago on Britain's new prime minister, Rishi Sunak, this author expressed some hope that his decision to reimpose a nationwide ban on fracking (a ban which Sunak had opposed when standing for leader, it should be noted), "was merely Sunak recognizing the reality on the ground, which is that fracking isn't particularly popular among elected MPs," and suggested this objectively bad decision would be offset by other, saner resource sector tweaks. Sunak himself argued that the platform the party was elected on in 2019 promised a fracking ban, and he felt bound to respect that. Fair enough.

But now Sunak has deflated those hopes. After saying on several occasions that he had no intention of attending this year's United Nations Climate Change Conference in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt (known as COP27), Sunak has once again changed course, and while spouted hackneyed warmist jibberish to boot:

Sure, Rishi, all of human prosperity depends upon the rich-and-powerful flying their private jets to Egypt to sit around in air conditioned rooms talking about how important you all are.

Sunak's elevation has been widely touted as a return to "grown-up" governance. But, as the British journalist Ben Sixsmith points out in a piece about Sunak, to call a major politician "a grown-up" is to damn him with faint praise. "Grown-up" in politics, Sixsmith argues, is a codeword for someone who makes journalists feel all warm and fuzzy inside. They invariably wear nice suits, have sensible haircuts, and speak fluidly and confidently when a microphone is in their face. What they say is of little importance.

This writer is less certain on that last point. To me, the title "grown-up" is bestowed by the media upon those who have promised not to offend elite sensibilities on any important topic. It isn't a partisan designation -- there are plenty of ostensibly right-of-center figures who have been so complimented, with George Bush the elder, John McCain, and Mitt Romney being standouts in this category. Of course, it is worth mentioning that ultimately losing elections is what allowed those three to maintain their "grown-up" status.

This is something Rishi should probably take note of as he begins his Green-ward turn. Meanwhile, his change-of-heart is winning praise from all of the wrong people in British life. For instance:

Funny how the Strange New Respect a move like this inspires can't even sustain itself for the life of an entire tweet.

As Truss Falls, Does BoJo Loom?

Things are moving so fast in British politics that by the time this post goes to (digital) press, it's possible the U.K. will have gone through several more prime ministers, and Meghan Markle will be crowned queen.

Here are the basics: Newly minted prime minister Liz Truss has resigned after just 44 days on the job, the shortest ever term for a prime minister. She came into office hard on the heels of Boris Johnson, who resigned after he was caught lying about violating his own government's Covid restrictions on several occasions.

Determined not to be merely a caretaker P.M., Truss immediately initiated a bold -- some would say "foolhardy" -- plan to transform the British economy by slashing taxes across the board, with the biggest cuts for businesses and the wealthy, while also increasing spending. Much of that spending would go towards an energy "price freeze," which would cap the amount that Brits would pay for heat and electricity going into what is looking to be a brutal winter for heating and electricity rates. The bill for such a plan was projected to run into the hundreds of billions of pounds, but her hope was that it would it would keep the heat off her government while her Thatcher-on-steroids tax plan supercharged the economy and brought about elephantine growth.

The Iron Lady she wasn't.

Now here's what actually happened. The markets were disturbed by these sudden movements, and by the massive amount of new debt the government would have to take on to make this all work, especially at a time of significant and rising interest rates. Sterling tanked and bond markets went crazy.

Truss vowed that she would not change course. Then she started changing course, with new back-tracking announcements becoming an almost daily occurrence. She sacked Kwasi Kwarteng, her right-hand man and Chancellor of the Exchequer, in a desperate attempt to hang onto power, and appointed the establishmentarian, globalist, anti-Brexiter Jeremy Hunt to take his place. Hunt promptly got to work dismantling the rest of Truss's program.

Eventually the pressure got to be too great. After a tense vote on a Labour bill whose object was to prevent the government from reintroducing fracking, which the Tories won, despite several notable defections, the humiliated Truss was compelled to offer her resignation.

What is so strange about all of this is that it is easy to imagine a counterfactual scenario where Truss turned out a success. She ran for leadership as a continuity candidate: Boris, but without the erraticism, dishonesty, and drama. That was a pretty attractive proposition! Had she actually governed that way, pushing back on some of the negatives of the Johnson government while generally trying to steady the tiller, she might have had a long and illustrious career.

Kicking Boris' environmentalism to the curb would have been a good start -- Britain has a lot of natural gas, but environmentalists have been lying to the people about natural resource extraction for years. The politics site Guido Fawkes, for instance, recently wrote about a speech in the House of Commons by former Labour leader Ed Miliband about the possibility that fracking would bring with it earthquakes registering a 4.6 on the Richter scale, which could crack the plaster in houses and cause notable damage. This is ridiculous -- though fracking has been known to trigger tremors, they're rarely strong enough to be felt, only to be detected by powerful instruments. The strongest one ever, according to Fawkes, was a 2.9, which is comparable to "a pound of sugar being dropped on a kitchen floor."

Ask not for whom the bell tolls.

Boris famously leaned into this misinformation, including in his farewell speech as prime minister. A successful Truss could have checked it, while noting the absolute necessity of developing domestic energy sources in light of growing scarcity. Doing so wouldn't have required abandoning all Boris' plans. It could even have reinforced some of them. There's an obvious match between his "leveling-up" project, meant to improve those forgotten, working class regions of England's north (where he scored a stunning success in the last election), and the jobs which an expanded resource sector could provide.

At the Telegraph, Lord Frost even argues that Truss could have gone ahead with her own program, had she actually laid the groundwork for it over time:

Truss tried to deliver worthwhile reforms and set the country onto a much-needed new direction. I supported this policy direction and still do. But it was rushed and bungled. The markets were spooked. The mistakes were opportunistically seized on by her opponents to undermine her leadership, to blame Brexit, and to stop the party getting out of the social democratic tractor beam of the past few years.

In any event, yet another party leadership race will be held as soon as possible to determine who will govern, with Rishi Sunak -- the wealthy establishmentarian who came in second to Truss last time -- seen as the front runner. Unless, that is, Boris Johnson decides to throw his hat into the ring, as voices both inside and outside parliament have started calling for him to do.

Unfortunately for the Conservative Party, polling seems to indicate that the British people are getting sick of this ongoing Tory psychodrama. The Labour Party has started calling for an early election, which they are in a good position to win. And losing might ultimately be good for the Tories -- having squandered a huge mandate with Johnson, they could do with a good long stretch in opposition to figure out what they actually stand for.

Still, as Labour's policies; fiscal, social, and environmental; are so much worse than those of the Tories, the country as a whole would probably be much better off if they would just get their act together. Don't hold your breath.

Upper-Class Twit of the Year Goes Green

The British member of parliament Jacob Rees-Mogg is a hero to a certain type of Anglosphere conservative for his Wodehousian mien, an anachronistic and aristocratic style which has led to his being nicknamed “the honourable member for the early 20th century.”

But Rees-Mogg's fan base will be sorry to see his recent Op-Ed in Britain's Leftist broadsheet The Guardian, of all places, embracing both green energy and "intelligent net-zero in which green energy will play the biggest role."

I’m proud to belong to a country that has cut its greenhouse gas emissions by 40 percent since 1990, while growing the economy by over 70% in that time. It is in this light that we can achieve our commitments to net zero by 2050, as dark satanic mills are replaced by onshore and offshore windfarms.

Rees-Mogg goes on to tout government plans "to support low-cost finance to help householders with the upfront costs of solar installation" and "align onshore wind planning policy with other infrastructure to allow it to be deployed more easily in England." He claims the government "understand the strength of feeling that some people have about the impact of wind turbines in England" (one imagines that many Brits probably feel about them as William Blake's did of those "dark satanic mills" Rees-Mogg had referenced earlier) and claims their plans "will maintain local communities’ ability to contribute to proposals." "Contribute to" but not "block." It sounds like a lot of rural Brits will soon be railroaded.

Take a deep breath, Tories.

One can't help but wonder if this piece is at all connected to recent reports that Rees-Mogg's own mother is set to make a pretty penny on the development of a massive solar farm in the politician's own constituency? Perhaps he was trying to get ahead of accusations of hypocrisy on green matters, or maybe signaling his disagreement with the Truss government's stated intention of making such developments more difficult, potentially endangering his family's cash out. This is the theory of the politics site Guido Fawkes, which broke the story. Rees-Mogg is currently secretary of state for Business, Energy, and Industrial Strategy in that government, so he would have a real say in the implementation of such a proposal.

In any event, this is a disappointing endorsement for Rees-Mogg, and a foolish one at that. His jumping on the net-zero band-wagon will hurt Britain and make life worse for his constituents. No amount of archaic affectations are going to change that. Net-Zero insanity is part of what brought Boris Johnson low, and with Liz Truss stumbling badly right out of the gate, the Tories need all the help they can get not to get thoroughly annihilated in the next election.

But having triumphed beyond the expectations in 2019, winning seats in constituencies that hadn't voted for a Tory since the Norman invasion. Taking the bras off the debutantes indeed: expect them to give it all back and more no later than January 2025 or whenever the ultra-diverse Truss government collapses, whichever comes first.

Charles' Choice: 'Climate Change' or the Crown

Within hours of of her passing, Politico published a lengthy obituary of Queen Elizabeth II entitled "The Short, Unhappy Life of Elizabeth Windsor." That title is meant to surprise -- Queen Elizabeth was 96 years old when she died. She lived to see the births of several of her great-grandchildren. We should, all of us, be grateful to live for such a "short" time.

But the point is that, while her life as Queen was long, her own, personal life lasted for just a few of those years. She was only 10 when her uncle Edward VIII abdicated, leaving her father king and her the heir apparent. After her 1947 wedding, Elizabeth was able to live as herself again for a few short years in Malta, where her husband Philip served as a naval officer. But her father's early death in 1952 changed all that -- for the next 70 years, Elizabeth II took center stage and Elizabeth Windsor, a woman with interests, opinions, preferences, had hardly any public existence at all.

The triumph of Gloriana, 1953.

Of course, this was the key to her success as a monarch. While those who knew her well describe the Queen as a close follower of politics and world events, and she had clear favorites in the political realm—she was quite close to the Labour leaders Harold Wilson and Jim Callaghan, while her relationship to the Conservative Margaret Thatcher was reportedly frosty—Elizabeth was conscious of the supra-political nature of her role.

And in the world we live in, where every movie we watch, magazine we read, and friendship we attempt to maintain is sucked down into the morass of politics, that is a rare and precious thing. The Queen's success at remaining above the fray is precisely why, in our acrimonious age, her subjects continued to love her.

Which is why there is reason for concern about her son, King Charles III. We all know of his green enthusiasms, the environmentalist causes he's championed as the heir apparent, from solar panels, to electric cars, to biomass. We all laughed when he gushed about his Aston Martin running on wine and cheese. We were a bit more perturbed on the numerous occasions when he broke into his Henry V-meets-Klaus Schwab imitation, saying things like, "We need a vast military-style campaign to marshal the strength of the global private sector, with trillions at its disposal. We have to put ourselves on... a warlike footing,” and when he sympathized with the extremists from Extinction Rebellion. But many of his countrymen—certainly most of this author's British and Canadian friends—held out hope that, when the time came, he would follow his mother's example and disappear beneath the crown.

For those people, now his subjects, recent reports have been disappointing. Details are hard to come by—the focus in Britain remains on the departed Queen—but the BBC has reported that Charles's confidants say he has no intention of backing down on "climate change." And the politics website Guido Fawkes has heard that the King made it a point to emphasize his dedication to "the protection of the climate and the planet" on a phone call with French president Emmanuel Macron.

Queen Elizabeth, 1926-2022.

In his first address as king, Charles reflected upon the life of his mother, and said "I, too, now solemnly pledge myself, throughout the remaining time God grants me, to uphold the constitutional principles at the heart of our nation." But, as the Queen well understood, the "constitutional principles" to which he refers include the apolitical nature of the monarchy. Those principles were, of course, established on the blood of Englishmen over the course of the English Civil War, a conflict which saw the present king's predecessor, Charles I, executed for his refusal to accept the primacy of parliament in the political affairs of the nation. After the original Charles's death, the monarchy was dissolved and British Commonwealth was ruled by the murderous Puritan dictator, Oliver Cromwell.

Those events should serve as a warning to the new King Charles. The institution he now presides over finds itself in a tenuous position. If he isn't careful, as his mother was, it could all come tumbling down.

Diary of an Acclimatised Beauty: Mourning

We’ve lost our beloved Queen and no amount of wishing is going to change that. And it’s what we all feared when her Platinum Jubilee was held at 70 years rather than 75. Judith (mummy) has been crying off and on since we got the news and I’ve done my best to keep from further upsetting her. I didn’t expect to find myself at my childhood home in St John’s Wood on this day but if I’m honest, I really did expect Elizabeth's reign to continue on forever. As Daddy said, we’ve known nothing else. She was queen when I was born in British Hong Kong and when my grandmother was said to have tucked a small framed photo of HRH into my pram.  

Daddy has taken Judith to tea nearly every day, which has stopped her from watching the telly nonstop, and bracing when she sees Camilla. In the end I’m sure she’ll come round but for now she won’t accept Charles as our sovereign. Given how many have rung to ask her to clarify the rule, I believe she’s not alone. Canada, which still has the queen on its currency, opposes Charles succeeding his mother by 67 percent. A rather inauspicious start for the prince who has so valiantly fought for our planet.

At your service, Ma'am.

Walking back from my first (and last) British Military Fitness Class I couldn’t help but notice a sea of brightly coloured cellophane. We were told it would not be the miles of flowers we saw at Diana’s death and that arrangements would be ‘sensitively moved’ to Green Park, but what they hadn’t addressed was the impact on our landfill. And in response I quickly organised tables with stewards to remove the plastic wrap so that the flowers could more easily be composted and replanted. I felt the queen would have wanted no less, and as we transition to a green-minded king, it was the thing to do. 

I would have volunteered myself but I’d promised to take over tea-duty with Judith for today. She was in black of course and immediately told me that her single brooch was in good taste— having been her mother’s. And again reminded me that, ‘Your grandmother and the Queen were of an age’. As if I could possibly be allowed to forget. She also warned me that she wouldn’t be able to eat a thing. A warning that became less credible after devouring two plates of sandwiches.

We didn’t see anyone she knew but then one rarely does. And I was sure everyone she knew was still ringing the house to discuss the title of Queen Consort and dashed hopes of a morganatic marriage. Yet somehow, this was not an appropriate topic for our tea. Or so she said. I wanted to keep her mind away from her sadness but not so far away as to have to hear what I knew was coming:

‘Now Jennifer’ she began.  UGH! I motioned for another glass of champagne. ‘You do understand that once King… Charles can no longer involve himself in all your pet green projects’.

‘I thought you were putting a stop to that’ I responded.

‘I just thought it right, that someone say something to you—to break the news’.

‘That the Queen has died?’ I asked.

Take my hand, Mum. It will be all right.

She found that remark uncalled for and perhaps she was right but she really could be a pain, and this outing was for her benefit. The last thing I wanted right now was to be sitting for tea when I’d learned mourners were now leaving Paddington bears and marmalade sandwiches WRAPPED IN PLASTIC for the queen.  

For a moment I wondered if Judith had read the note I penned to the new King Charles, urging him not to drop all of our good works, and to continue to be a defender of the planet, but in the end I think she was just trying to be a mother for a change.  In my letter to Charles I’d reminded him that he was possibly the most significant environmental figure of all time, and that he could not abandon Terra Carta… no matter anything! As prince he could act as a one-person NGO, but as king he would be constrained by the convention that the monarch should not interfere in the U.K.’s political decision-making, or take any overt political stance. I reminded him that the environment isn’t politics, it's life. 

Many people feel that as Prince, Charles overstepped the bounds of constitutional monarchy, including his blistering attack on corporate vested interests.  But it has always been understood that this freedom would end as soon as he took the crown. So I believe it is important that he re-brand his stance—not as one of advocacy, but one of responsibility. Less focus on agenda, and more on serving the best interests of the country.

God save the king.

I explained that we have evolved as a country, and in time I believe he will be able to continue his lobbying at the highest political level, as he has done rather effectively with his black spider letters. And as the Tories have always been the conservators of the land there should be no risk of his agenda being seen as partisan or political… simply important. During his confidential weekly meetings with the Prime Minister he will be able to air his concerns over the environment and world climate.

When I got home Daddy handed me the paper, the headline read: 'World leaders to travel to Funeral by bus, commercial plane'. Surely he could not be serious. This was a mistake. ‘NO!’ I shrieked. 

‘I thought you’d be happy to see this—it’s the green solution, smaller carbon footprint and all that’, Daddy said smirking.

Ugh! How does he not get this? Along with world leaders we are the ones saving the planet. We are the ones taking up this very important task. In the same way that failing corporations must pay more to attract top talent… we certainly should not be punished or dissuaded by making us fly commercial. 

Liz Makes Britons an Offer They Can't Afford or Refuse

The U.K.'s new prime minister, Liz Truss, finds herself in an unenviable position. Britain -- along with the rest of Europe -- is facing out-of-control energy prices with winter fast approaching. Her predecessor, Boris Johnson, by unreservedly embraced his wife's net-zero enthusiasms, left the country's domestic energy industry in a parlous and perilous state. And the Labour Party has risen in the polls in part by proposing a massive windfall tax on what they suggest are the "excess profits" energy companies are pulling in due to the rise in oil and gas prices that have followed Russia's invasion of Ukraine, and using it to fund a "price freeze" on British energy bills.

Hoping to stall Labour's rise, the Johnson government enacted its own (smaller) windfall tax, but Truss has announced her intention to scrap it immediately, arguing that it amounts to a punishment for firms that invest in Britain. Instead she has proposed a plan which might be even more radical -- a "price freeze" funded by all British tax payers. Starting October 1st, British households will pay no more than £2,500 per annum for the next two years.

(Labour's plan, it is worth noting, would also have been largely funded by the taxpayer, because their windfall tax wouldn't have come close to paying for their pricing plan. But it sounds better to say that greedy oil companies are footing the bill.)

Of course, in reality there is no such thing as a "price freeze." What the plan actually amounts to is the government paying the bills that aren't covered by that £2,500 per household. Which is estimated to amount to a lot of money. How much exactly is unclear -- we don't yet know how real energy rates will go this winter or how cold it will get. Though, as Kate Andrews says at The Spectator, "a less generous package... was estimated earlier this week to be approaching £200 billion." It would be surprising to see this proposal cost less than that. Andrews points out one of the great dangers of this plan -- that it makes winter blackouts more likely:

We have a global shortage of energy – an ugly reality that domestic governments can do nothing about overnight. Truss’s decision to lift the fracking moratorium signals that the government wants to increase domestic energy production, but the policy change is unlikely to produce any quick or meaningful uptick in supply as local areas – which get the final say on whether fracking goes ahead – remain deeply opposed. So, we all need to use less energy this winter.... But by covering so much of the cost, Truss’s government has removed a lot of the incentive to cut back energy usage. Indeed, some people will probably increase their energy usage as bills will be so heavily subsidised by the state.

Economics 101 tells us that price increases are, in essence, a response to scarcity. By picking up consumers energy bills beyond a fixed point, said consumers are shielded from the reality of scarcity and consequently have no reason to consume less. This is especially true, Andrews argues, for wealthy Brits, whose bills will be capped at the same semi-arbitrary amount as the poor, despite their being better able to afford higher rates while also having bigger houses to heat and power. Instead of turning down the heat, they and their countrymen are just as likely to turn it up.

Truss's counter to these objections would no doubt be that there are really no good options, which is often the case in a crisis. Her hope is that keeping energy prices lower at the point of consumption will help get inflation under control, off-setting a new round of massive debt accumulation (and so soon after Covid lockdowns necessitated record borrowing of its own), while giving her other pro-energy, pro-free market policies a chance to beef up domestic production and turn the economy around. And, hopefully for her, just in time for the next general election, to be held no later than January, 2025.

Maybe it will work. But it's a hell of an expensive bet.

 

Boris Gives an Energized Curtain Speech

Yesterday Boris Johnson ceased to be the United Kingdom’s Prime Minister. A few days beforehand, in the dying days of his power, as the curtains swayed above the stage, about to descend and extinguish his premiership, the Old Pretender staged one last show of defiance and self-justification. And to the shock of the commentariat, it wasn’t the exercise in empty rhetoric and jokey bonhomie they were expecting.

Quite the contrary, Johnson announced an $800 million energy investment by the government in nuclear power; mildly rubbished the reintroduction of “fracking” for natural gas that his successor, Liz Truss, has promised; and strongly defended his “Deep Green” record of transitioning from fossil fuels to “renewables” like wind and sun in pursuit of the goal of Net-Zero carbon emissions by 2050.

It didn’t sound like the speech of a man who was bowing out of public life. More than that, Boris was defending the record of his premiership on the very energy and environmental issues on which he’s accused by many Tories of betraying his and their conservatism. He was painting his record red-white-and blue, running it up the mast, and betting that in the end they would salute it.

Why didn't I think of this before?

In other words he’s not given up all hope of returning to Downing Street. Maybe not today, maybe not until the Tories have suffered an election defeat under its new leadership in two years, but not too long after that when he calculates the Tories will have abandoned their recent but growing opposition to Net Zero austerity.

Consider the real meaning of his three main points above:

First,  some critics see his decision to invest $800 million in nuclear power and his praise of the Sizewell C nuclear plant as a renunciation of his “Green” switch to renewables. That’s not entirely true. Unlike the Greens or even Labour and European social democrats, the U.K. Tories have no ideological objection to nuclear power as such. It simply wasn’t a priority in the fight against global warming, and besides it was horrendously expensive. So it became the neglected child of their family of energy policies.

They did little or nothing about it until the combination of rising inflation, higher energy prices, and Putin’s invasion of Ukraine changed the cost calculations and made energy security a much more important element in the total policy blend. But since no other party had done much about nuclear power since the early 2000s, that let Boris off the hook. His embrace of nuclear power now means that he can add an extra strand to the U.K.’s energy mix and so reduce the risk of blackouts and rationing as it transitions to Net-Zero. Plus, hyping his commitment to nuclear power means he can’t be accused of being a fanatical Greenie. Altogether, a clever mix, but maybe too clever.

Second, Boris criticized “fracking” of natural gas that the new prime minister, Liz Truss, proposes to introduce. That’s a natural headline story in the Guardian where it can be translated as “New Tory PM attacked by old Tory PM.” But there’s less in it than meets the eye. According to the Daily Telegraph, Treasury officials, in expectation of the new PM, have already started work on a program of encouraging the production of oil and gas in Britain that will include lifting the ban on fracking.

Given the current world energy shortage, that policy is likely to go ahead—especially since one company has told the Treasury that it believes it can deliver “fracked” gas to the market as early as next year. Until now, however, fracking has been unpopular in the areas where companies were proposing to do it. Environmentalist groups are strongly opposed to it. Long term, it’s not a political certainty.

Farewell but not goodbye?

So Boris (who has been on both sides of this issue) criticized it in a very tentative way: ““If we could frack effectively and cheaply in this country, that would be possibly a very beneficial thing. I’m just, I have to say, slightly dubious that it will prove to be a panacea.” This statement is almost a definition of hedging your bets. In three year’s time, he can jump either way on fracking. If fracking seems to work, he says: “All I said was that it isn’t a panacea.” (And it isn’t, by the way, since a panacea is cure-all.) If it fails, he’ll shake his head and say: “Well, I always had my doubts.”

Third, Boris said: :

Tell everybody who thinks hydrocarbons are the only answer and we should get fracking and all that: offshore wind is now the cheapest form of electricity in this country… Of course it’s entirely clean and green.

That’s the moment when Boris threw aside caution and declared that his embrace of Net-Zero policies to defeat global warming will prove to be correct. Politically speaking, it may be a fair bet. The political and cultural establishments will welcome it and congratulate themselves on bringing the populist to heel.

But what will be the effect of his approach in the real world? Wind and sun are cheap forms of energy if you ignore the costs of investing in technologies that capture them and if you dismiss the costs of building the stand-by power stations they require when the wind fails and sun doesn’t shine. And if you do that, then you will produce blackouts and create a need for rationing.

Boris’s speech was sharply criticized by the man who resigned from his government last December because of its “direction of travel” (i.e., stationary) and who is now rumored to be a candidate for Liz Truss’s Cabinet in charge of deregulating the over-regulated U.K. economy: (Lord) David Frost. In his weekly Telegraph column, Frost made the point that Boris’s approach (and indeed, Boris’s personality) are rooted in an avoidance of dealing in advance with the inevitable trade-offs that good policy-making needs. Boris even gave a name to this approach: cakeism, when he said during the Brexit negotiations: “My policy is to have my cake and eat it." And though written before Boris spoke, Frost’s article reads like a reply to it:

For example, on energy, the underlying problem is not Vladimir Putin (though he’s made it worse) but poor policy giving us a grid that can’t reliably supply enough power when the wind doesn’t blow or the sun shine, leaving us exposed to very high spot prices for gas and the kindness of (semi-)friends for power through the interconnectors. The basic trade-off is that if we want more renewables, we will have a more unreliable and expensive grid, and probably rationing; if we want security of supply, we need more, and more modern, gas power stations and probably some coal ones, but this will affect the path to net zero. It won’t do to say we can have both – that net zero remains the goal but there will be no rationing.

Boris's curtain speech shows he has grown a little more prudent--but only a little. Today, he declares he will eat his cake now and hope to still have it in three years. But if he returns to Downing Street on that manifesto, he'll soon be eating his cake in the cold and the dark.

Diary of an Acclimatised Beauty: Concoursing

Surprisingly I couldn’t get anyone to go join me at this year’s Salon Privé. It’s not a ‘must-do' but I didn’t expect a flat ‘no’ across the board. Daddy and Judith are in Italy, my school chums are everywhere but London, and even my ex, Patrick, is in New York watching tennis. So it will just be me and my Gemma Chan squiggle dress.

I’m hoping the tone will not be dour given the likely end of the fuel-powered car. It’s early days but with California promising to ban this planet-killing transport, the world is likely to follow. And follow they should. I was an early adopter having purchased a Tesla car and solar panels well before Elon Musk bailed on California. As to blaming cars for the demise of our planet… Daddy and I have gone round and round on this subject. He likes to remind me that Britain was once a peninsula of continental Europe until the Channel was flooded by rising sea levels about 8,000 years ago—well before cars. But as I’ve explained to him—we can’t just ignore the science, no matter what history says.

This way to the egress, Boris.

I budgeted two hours drive to Blenheim which should be sufficient except for traffic getting out of London due to all the stupid bike lanes. Of course I’m not saying that bicycling is stupid, only putting so many lanes in an already-congested city has just made for more traffic. And stalled traffic means more CO2. Plus no one is really using the lanes anyway. So was it any wonder Boris got caught cycling outside of his own proscribed covid-zone? It was also his bright idea that bikes become ‘as commonplace as black cabs and red buses’. I mean, really! No one would get anywhere.

It took me a while to find the non-preferential parking, which meant a ten-minute walk to the main entrance on one’s choice of grass or gravel. UGH! Obviously some man with wide feet and a love for sensible shoes had managed this. Making a quick trip to the ladies' I sorted myself out, but I overheard complaints about people having taken the train to Hanborough where there was no taxi rank. Seriously? It was the car event of the season and everyone was walking way more than they wished.

Making my way to the gallery I met an American who introduced himself as ‘Ken’. I was hoping he’d be a candidate to talk about making cars carbon-neutral but he seemed only to want to talk about his ’54 Corvette mule car that he’d shipped over. Oh how he went on about this particular 'vette—and his other 250 cars. I had half a mind to ask if he, like Prince Charles, had any that ran on leftover wine and cheese but thought better of it. My guess of course, was no because he mentioned if you’re lucky you’ll see flames come out of the back end. FLAMES! Not exactly carbon-neutral. I tried easing into a meaningful conversation but it was no use. He didn’t know who I was, he didn’t know who my clients were, and he was impressed by shooting flames.

By contrast the next person I met was Bill Ford, of the Model-T Fords. The Fords didn’t pre-date the Churchills but at an event like this he was no less impressive. Also he knew who I was, and announced that he, too, was an environmentalist. Why had I spent so much time talking to Mr Fire-Butt? Bill had grown up with many thinking his family the enemy. To a lesser degree I had carried the guilt of a father who was the top geophysical engineer in the oil industry. Talk about kismet! I was sure we’d partner in some way to move toward carbon neutrality in the automotive industry. This was exciting. I quickly dazzled him with the work I’d done, and my near-encyclopaedic knowledge of the issue at hand. He didn’t interrupt so I continued on explaining my position and the path we needed to take in order to avoid extinction.

Don't blame me, Greenies.

He led me into the Aviva Pavilion and excused himself briefly. I texted my father to tell him the good news. Daddy texted back ‘Hold your horses’.

What?? ‘THIS IS DIVINE PROVIDENCE!’ I texted back.

‘I doubt it’. Was his response. ‘I’m not saying you can’t find common ground and achieve your end but talk to him about something YOU know. Like traffic jams. And how Boris has it all wrong. Tell him that four billion clean cars is still four billion cars on the road. Tell him that restrictions on movement in the name of global warming is not the answer’.

What? OMG NO! Daddy had it all wrong. When Bill came back I told him I owned one of the first Teslas. Bill beamed and said ‘Then you understand! Clean cars alone are not the solution’.

‘Uhhhhh…correct!’ I said. ‘Four billion clean cars is still four billion cars’.

‘YES!’ He roared.

‘And…restrictions on movement in the name of global warming is not the answer’.

‘THANK YOU!’ He said. ‘You know, the freedom to move about the country is by far the greatest thing my grandfather, Henry, created. I aim to preserve that, so obviously I’m against banning cars, and we both agree that more bikes and more smart cars is just—more. Unfortunately some are trying to ban the very thing my grandfather created—the freedom to move about the country. If we allow this next they’ll be rationing energy. Yet global gridlock will stifle productivity. Maybe we need underground roads.

‘Correct’. I said again, baffled.

'Would you be interested in partnering with me on an interconnected system of intelligent transport?'

’‘I would indeed’, I said. And that is all I said. Because clearly I could not have said it better myself. Wait 'til I tell Daddy...