Ed Miliband (who is having a shocking time appointing – what’s Phil Woolas about?) has made a lot about this so-called ‘New Generation’. I am not going to proceed with the, correct, dominant argument that appointing MPs such as Alan Johnson (who has had several Cabinet positions – it is not about his age – oh and he also signs up to Darling’s deficit programme #fail) to positions of particular seniority contradicts Ed’s claim that Labour’s future direction is enriched by ‘newness’ (incidentally, why are Labour so obsessed with the word ‘new’, hmm). Instead, I wish to critique the “New Generation” concept from an environmental perspective with relating consideration of current ‘buzz’ words, such as the ‘debt generation’ (I don’t agree with the meaning of this concept by the way).
The issue of ‘New Generation’ and future ‘debt generations’ all presume around the interests of humans – there is no larger consideration of our policies’ impact upon the environment, except from a human dominated perspective. In other words, the present policies are framed in terms of what they will do to the future human population, there is no regards – well no mainstream regard – for the policies influence upon nature per se and non-humans. So, we might consider the impacts of climate change, but this is very much framed around discussions regarding what will happen to us and our children if we don’t change things now – not about what is happening to present non-human species and future species who are increasingly becoming extinct because of our self-interested actions, for example.
As Caroline Lucas pointed out, Ed Miliband’s speech contained no real consideration of the true necessity of promoting environmental justice within his first conference address as party leader. Furthermore, from a Prime Minister who supposedly represents the “greenest government ever”, I don’t think there was even a reflection on the environmental crisis in his conference speech. This is primarily due to mainstream ignorance and a failure to recognise the wider ramifications to many of our social, economic and environmental policies.
Now all these rhetorical sound bites might offer the parties a method to look as though they care about the future, but our political system is shaped by the here and now, short-term interests. The current government may say they are looking at the long-term – but at the speed they passed the Academy Bill, you have to question their sincerity.
A consideration of the future in a broader encompassing way, where non-humans and the environmental world are considered as important as humans in terms of current and future policies is what it would mean to have a real conception of the reality of the situation facing our present and future generations; all there is at the moment is empty media friendly ‘buzz’ words.