David Davis: right on torture, wrong on climate change

Have you read his denialist nonsense in the Independent?

I'm a big fan of David Davis on civil liberties and human rights issues, especially his bold stance in opposition to torture and our alleged complicity in barbaric practices.

But on climate change, he is hopelessly wrong. His cornucopia of distortions, exaggerations, smears and half-truths in the Independent today makes for a depressing read.

I don't have time to fisk every line -- and, believe me, every line is worth fisking! -- but I will take issue with two of his points:

1)

The row about whether global warming exists gets even more virulent. The case is not helped by the fact that the planet appears to have been cooling, not warming, in the last decade.

Really? Who to believe? Davis, with his "BSc Joint Hons molecular science/computer science" degree, or the globally renowned, peer-reviewed climate scientists at the Met Office Hadley Centre? From a press release in December 2008:

The ten warmest years on record have occurred since 1997. Global temperatures for 2000-2008 now stand almost 0.2°C warmer than the average for the decade 1990-1999.

Dr Peter Stott of the Met Office says our actions are making the difference: "Human influence, particularly emission of greenhouse gases, has greatly increased the chance of having such warm years. Comparing observations with the expected response to man-made and natural drivers of climate change it is shown that global temperature is now over 0.7°C warmer than if humans were not altering the climate."

2)

Last week, the row was fuelled after a hacker revealed emails between the world's leading climate scientists that seemed to show them conspiring to rig the figures to support their theories. So it is unsurprising that more than half the public no longer believe in global warming.

Davis gets his timeline wrong. Polls showing public scepticism on the climate change issue preceded and predated the so-called Climategate row and the release of the University of East Anglia emails. The reason "more than half the public" no longer believe in global warming is because right-wing free marketeers like Davis, lacking in scientific credentials, have distorted the arguments and undermined the evidence.

The really scary point is this: had David Davis beaten David Cameron in 2005 and become Tory leader, Britain would now be on the verge of electing the only climate-change-denying leader in the G7. One for Dominic Sandbrook's What If . . . columns, eh?

By the way, before all the deniers and "sceptics" crawl out from under their cold, non-warming rocks to object to the evidence cited in this post and scream "cover-up", let me point you in the direction of a story in the Telegraph showing how climate-change sceptics get things wrong, too.

 

 

Mehdi Hasan is a contributing writer for the New Statesman and the co-author of Ed: The Milibands and the Making of a Labour Leader. He was the New Statesman's senior editor (politics) from 2009-12.

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What Jeremy Corbyn gets right about the single market

Technically, you can be outside the EU but inside the single market. Philosophically, you're still in the EU. 

I’ve been trying to work out what bothers me about the response to Jeremy Corbyn’s interview on the Andrew Marr programme.

What bothers me about Corbyn’s interview is obvious: the use of the phrase “wholesale importation” to describe people coming from Eastern Europe to the United Kingdom makes them sound like boxes of sugar rather than people. Adding to that, by suggesting that this “importation” had “destroy[ed] conditions”, rather than laying the blame on Britain’s under-enforced and under-regulated labour market, his words were more appropriate to a politician who believes that immigrants are objects to be scapegoated, not people to be served. (Though perhaps that is appropriate for the leader of the Labour Party if recent history is any guide.)

But I’m bothered, too, by the reaction to another part of his interview, in which the Labour leader said that Britain must leave the single market as it leaves the European Union. The response to this, which is technically correct, has been to attack Corbyn as Liechtenstein, Switzerland, Norway and Iceland are members of the single market but not the European Union.

In my view, leaving the single market will make Britain poorer in the short and long term, will immediately render much of Labour’s 2017 manifesto moot and will, in the long run, be a far bigger victory for right-wing politics than any mere election. Corbyn’s view, that the benefits of freeing a British government from the rules of the single market will outweigh the costs, doesn’t seem very likely to me. So why do I feel so uneasy about the claim that you can be a member of the single market and not the European Union?

I think it’s because the difficult truth is that these countries are, de facto, in the European Union in any meaningful sense. By any estimation, the three pillars of Britain’s “Out” vote were, firstly, control over Britain’s borders, aka the end of the free movement of people, secondly, more money for the public realm aka £350m a week for the NHS, and thirdly control over Britain’s own laws. It’s hard to see how, if the United Kingdom continues to be subject to the free movement of people, continues to pay large sums towards the European Union, and continues to have its laws set elsewhere, we have “honoured the referendum result”.

None of which changes my view that leaving the single market would be a catastrophe for the United Kingdom. But retaining Britain’s single market membership starts with making the argument for single market membership, not hiding behind rhetorical tricks about whether or not single market membership was on the ballot last June, when it quite clearly was. 

Stephen Bush is special correspondent at the New Statesman. His daily briefing, Morning Call, provides a quick and essential guide to domestic and global politics.