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Pupil power fuels the politics of climate change

22 February, 2019

School students in Westminster on Friday as part of widespread action on climate change

BLISS was it that dawn to be alive, but to be young was very heaven.

William Wordsworth’s romantic lines about the French Revolution could well have applied to the enthusiastic schoolchildren flooding through the streets to Parliament last Friday.

Their cause was not, ostensibly, to topple the government but to get it to act on climate change. The official line from headteachers has been that missing school can never be appropriate, however noble a cause.

And yet, judging by the report of a 15-year-old, the demonstration appears to have supplied a most thrilling lesson on the right to protest.

“The atmosphere was electric”, recalls the boy. Not a football match, or a pop concert. He says his friends are “pretty fed up” with politicians “fiddling about” with Brexit, when the really big issues that matter to them have been sidelined.

The school strike was immediately condemned by the Prime Minister. And no wonder. Many of the striking children will be supporters of Jeremy Corbyn and the radical impulses of the Labour Party.

Shadow chancellor John McDonnell has outlined how a future Labour government would oversee an economic transformation to tackle the climate crisis by massive government investment.

Labour’s plan has strong echoes of the Green New Deal, advocated by leftwing Democrats including Alexandria Cortez and Bernie Sanders in the United States.

It demands major structural change – not just behavioural, in our approach to the ecosystem.

The financial analyst Ann Pettifor has made a compelling case for Green Energy to be at the heart of Labour’s economic policy – in a move that would remove the City from its role as master of the British economy.

These kinds of deep ideologies are grabbing the attention of the younger generation. It could replace the dead, broken politics of today.

NHS for sale

THE former University College London Hospitals chief executive, Sir Robert Naylor, was asked by the government for advice on the sale of NHS-owned land.

As a result, NHS trusts were offered cash incentives to sell-off land on the private market to modernise facilities now in direct competition with private sector health companies.

What followed was a staggering fire-sale of NHS land across the country.

The Whittington board got itself into all kinds of problems by trying to rush through the sale of its estate.

A similar hurried approach appears to be behind the desperate rush to sell off the beautiful Hoo building in Hampstead – and for £1.7m below its original asking price.

As ever with the NHS, these reckless financial decisions are not publicly debated until it is too late.

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