The Plastic Hippo

November 22, 2011

An Englishman`s home

Filed under: Environment,Politics,Society — theplastichippo @ 3:12 pm

Minister of State for the Department of Energy and Climate Change, Charles Hendry certainly understands the importance of reducing our collective carbon footprint. In his world, we must reduce ours so that he can increase his.

A few months after coming to power in 2010, he said this:
“We have pledged to be the greenest government ever. We must lead by example. Leadership from government departments is something we cannot – and will not – shirk. We are not asking others to do things we will not do ourselves.”

Following a career as a PR executive, the last thing this son of a stockbroker is doing is shirking his responsibilities. After a hard week in Westminster cutting subsidies to solar power, reducing winter fuel allowances for the elderly and refusing applications for wind turbines, the guardian of our climate deserves a bolt-hole to gain some respite from the rising waters of nimbyism. Accordingly, he has purchased a modest pied-a-terre for weekend breaks and holidays away from the maddening crowd.

With an asking price of £2.5million, Blair Castle near Dalry in Ayrshire is clearly a necessity as a second home for a busy cabinet minster. He, his wife and his two children can now enjoy the peace and quiet of the 20 bedrooms, 16 bathrooms and outdoor heated swimming pool. When in opposition, the MP for Wealden in East Sussex, claimed £7,300 of tax payers money for wages paid to his servants at one of his other homes. He also claimed £1,300 for a new oil tank and regular £500 bills for oil. Tax payers also paid £90 per month to have his windows cleaned. In January this year, the Minister demanded that the OFT should investigate the cost of domestic heating oil. No self interest there then.

Clearly, what this proper Charlie does in his own home is his business and he is obviously allowed to spend his money as he sees fit. Sir Edward Coke, in 1628, enshrined in common law the concept of individual freedom for the home owner. He wrote in The Institutes of the Laws of England:
“For a man’s house is his castle, et domus sua cuique est tutissimum refugium (and each man’s home is his safest refuge)”

Consider then, the plight of those less fortunate than Charles Hendry who cannot afford a first safe refuge let alone a castle for weekend use or those that face a simple choice between food and fuel this winter. The renters at the mercy of corrupt landlords and the homeless need not fear, our coalition of fools have come up with a plan.

As the planet still teeters on the brink of financial catastrophe brought about by toxic sub prime lending, our government has announced that more toxic sub prime lending is the way to return to prosperity. The tax payer will underwrite 95 per cent of first time mortgages and so at last, people without jobs or money can buy their very own castle at an artificially inflated price. After cutting £4billion from the housing subsidy, Gideon Osborne is giving £400million to property developers and the directors of construction companies. Does everyone understand the difference between a billion and a million?

Add to this the relaxation of planning procedures, the removal of the irritation that is the green belt and a denial of the thousands of unsold, empty and over priced dwellings and we have a housing policy designed to make the rich richer and make the poor sleep in doorways. Building new houses that nobody wants or can afford will only benefit the shareholders of building firms and reptilian developers and the jobs “created” in the construction industry will be short term and transitory. With an elitist oaf like Osborne in charge, the economy is built on sand.

Should Charles Hendry find the 430 mile Friday night journey from Westminster to Dalry in the back of the ministerial limo tedious, he can take comfort in the fact that the ironically named Blair Castle has a dedicated helicopter landing facility. Final approach should not be problem as there are unlikely to be any wind turbines on the spacious estate and the carbon footprint of his castle can be seen from outer space.

As Kermit the frog said: “It`s not easy being green.”

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