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Tuesday, 27 March 2012

The Nasty Party: With Extra Twists

Today is the day when the coalition government - in a very evidently Conservative initiative - recasts by Decree the Planning Regulations in England and Wales. Most detailed rules are swept away, procedures are simplified, and a 'presumption' is to be made in favour of allowing changes in rural areas which are shown to be 'sustainable developments'. 'Sustainable' means different things to different people in different contexts, and can be so broadly defined as to be meaningless even before the concepts are moulded for specific cases by clever lawyers. Local 'communities' are supposed to have a clear voice on developments in their areas, but the new principle of favouring building work that can be claimed to conduce to economic development will make it pretty easy to override Nimby [not in my back yard!] objectors.

Britain's economic future depends heavily on tourism; and one of the major assets that the country has inherited is the legendary green countryside. The picture is under threat currently from drought: nobody dreams of 'England's brown and pleasant land'; but an equal threat is the construction of inept industrial plant, factory farms and housing estates in [or close to] beauty spots. Britain is so small, and already so widely a wasteland of sites abandoned by industry, that the conservation of the great asset is a high priority in the majority view of the native population. The Conservatives promised that the NHS would be 'safe' with them, and have set about  disrupting it: the countryside is the next target of the urbanised nasties who have captured the party from its landed grandees. Natural Conservatives will be the most outraged by the potential consequences of the planning policy. The nasties believe that natural Conservatives have no other party to vote for, and are afraid of Labour [as well as contemptuous of the LibDems]: so the core Conservative vote is  still taken for granted. This new planning policy, which is quintessentially nasty, could well mark the tipping point where the Conservative Party alienates its natural support and enters a decline similar to that of the Liberals in the nineteen twenties. These things happen very quickly: and the nasties may just have set the mechanism in train.

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