The last dilemma

The Clangers creator highlights humankind's crucial choice

The fervent Channel 4 programme "The Great Global Warming Swindle", produced by the 'denyers', and its slating and rejection by the 'disaster crusaders', has taken the debate about the likely future of the world out of science, which is necessarily inconclusive, and into the realm of pseudo-religion.

Now you either 'believe in' one future or you 'believe in' another. Both attitudes are rich with indicative examples but apparently without sufficiently conclusive proof to silence the opposing unbelievers.

Underlying it all is a simple dilemma, one which concerns us all, now.

It is this:-

If we choose to believe the ‘doomsters’, and take the necessary steps to replace global warming with global cooling, civilization will have to revise its priorities and we shall, for a time, be mightily inconvenienced – and if at some later date, it might conceivably be proved to have been unnecessary – then we and our grandchildren will be alive and life on earth will continue.

If we choose to believe the ‘denyers’, decide that there is nothing to worry about and go on as usual, we shall be very comfortable, thank you – and if it should then become clear that the so-called ‘tipping point’ has passed and it is obvious that global warming has become runaway and irreversible – then we and our grandchildren will be dead and life on earth will cease.

This is not a choice which can be left to politicians. It is our life

Oliver Postgate was the creator of Bagpuss, the Clangers, Ivor the Engine and Noggin the Nog. His autobiography depicts his passage from grinning show-off to grisly old git, a journey that included not only a prison sentence but also a thirty-year period working with Peter Firmin in cow-shed and pig-sty, making small films. Oliver died on 8 December, 2008
Ukip's Nigel Farage and Paul Nuttall. Photo: Getty
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Is the general election 2017 the end of Ukip?

Ukip led the way to Brexit, but now the party is on less than 10 per cent in the polls. 

Ukip could be finished. Ukip has only ever had two MPs, but it held an outside influence on politics: without it, we’d probably never have had the EU referendum. But Brexit has turned Ukip into a single-issue party without an issue. Ukip’s sole remaining MP, Douglas Carswell, left the party in March 2017, and told Sky News’ Adam Boulton that there was “no point” to the party anymore. 

Not everyone in Ukip has given up, though: Nigel Farage told Peston on Sunday that Ukip “will survive”, and current leader Paul Nuttall will be contesting a seat this year. But Ukip is standing in fewer constituencies than last time thanks to a shortage of both money and people. Who benefits if Ukip is finished? It’s likely to be the Tories. 

Is Ukip finished? 

What are Ukip's poll ratings?

Ukip’s poll ratings peaked in June 2016 at 16 per cent. Since the leave campaign’s success, that has steadily declined so that Ukip is going into the 2017 general election on 4 per cent, according to the latest polls. If the polls can be trusted, that’s a serious collapse.

Can Ukip get anymore MPs?

In the 2015 general election Ukip contested nearly every seat and got 13 per cent of the vote, making it the third biggest party (although is only returned one MP). Now Ukip is reportedly struggling to find candidates and could stand in as few as 100 seats. Ukip leader Paul Nuttall will stand in Boston and Skegness, but both ex-leader Nigel Farage and donor Arron Banks have ruled themselves out of running this time.

How many members does Ukip have?

Ukip’s membership declined from 45,994 at the 2015 general election to 39,000 in 2016. That’s a worrying sign for any political party, which relies on grassroots memberships to put in the campaigning legwork.

What does Ukip's decline mean for Labour and the Conservatives? 

The rise of Ukip took votes from both the Conservatives and Labour, with a nationalist message that appealed to disaffected voters from both right and left. But the decline of Ukip only seems to be helping the Conservatives. Stephen Bush has written about how in Wales voting Ukip seems to have been a gateway drug for traditional Labour voters who are now backing the mainstream right; so the voters Ukip took from the Conservatives are reverting to the Conservatives, and the ones they took from Labour are transferring to the Conservatives too.

Ukip might be finished as an electoral force, but its influence on the rest of British politics will be felt for many years yet. 

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