Simon Carr: The way to lead is by example

Why not pledge that in a decade all public service cars will be electric?
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The Independent Online

When Gordon stopped bidding up his climate offers I couldn't understand why he didn't keep going. He said a 20 per cent reduction in emissions wasn't enough, nor was the high end of the EU's position – 30 per cent. He went for over 40 per cent. And he offered a billion of UK taxpayer money at first, and then upped it to £6bn. But why stop there?

It was like watching the Royal Bank of Scotland using its depositors' cash to buy bonus-producing securities, even at the risk of bringing down the company. Incidentally, I'm not as sceptical of climate change as this sounds. It's the remote, altitudinous politics that are so repulsive. But then, that's not just a politics thing any more. It's what society is like now. The administrative class has managed to detach itself from the rest of us. It constantly finds new ways to pursue its own interests, in its own dialects, according to its own rules – and we see it all through society.

In boardrooms, directors on the remuneration committees set the pay of their chums and of themselves. They rarely err on the side of the shareholders. Financial experts produce derivative schemes so complex no one can understand what they are buying and selling. They are beyond criticism because the rating agencies that should have penetrated them can't understand them.

Down the scale, the police and social services follow such bizarre operating practices that the rest of us have run out of indignation when it's demonstrated that we the public are the nuisance, the fodder, the enemy.

Politicians work continuously to create ever more remote structures and institutions to rule us, beyond the reach of their plebs. The Napoleonic dirigisme of the European Union is a Socratic forum of participation compared with some of these new supranational bodies. The global politician produces plans so ingenious and so large that their success or failure can hardly be calculated – and in some cases can't even be observed.

Here's a proposal they simply wouldn't countenance. Why not pledge that in a decade all public service cars will be electric, charged by electricity from gas-fired power stations. And that this effort will be funded by whatever it takes – up to the £6bn recently pledged for the world. We don't give the money overseas, we spend it ourselves, in Britain, on a game-changing project.

The effort might succeed, or it might fail. But the public would know. We'd all be able to tell. And success would be so clear that electric cars would become a global commercial reality – and we'd sell the technology and expertise to bring it about. And some other country would spend £5bn to solve the rainforests – or wave power – or Third World firewood – and we'd join in with those schemes, as and when they worked.

To lead, in short, by personal and individual example rather than joining in the baffling waffle of the global community in their vast, impenetrable and corruption-sodden aid regimes.

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