I have never bought into Dave’s conveniently recent conversion to environmental concerns. He was at it again today, trying to convince us that, deep down, he’s just a big, soft Joni Mitchell fan, and not a scary neo-Thatcherite at all, honestly.
Hitchcock had a word for it: a McGuffin. A McGuffin was a plot device. What it was in the movie didn’t really matter – it could be a secret weapon, a chemical formula, a letter – what mattered was the effect it had on other characters’ actions and motivations (a good example is the unidentified glowing stuff inside the suitcase in Pulp Fiction).
The environment is Dave’s McGuffin. It doesn’t matter whether or not he believes it himself (he doesn’t); what matters is our – and voters’ – reaction to it. It didn’t have to be the environment. It could have been child poverty, the NHS or street crime. The important thing was to have a hook – something he could use as a symbol, a clear demonstration that the Tories had really changed, that they were no longer the same old heartless, cynical short-termists we all came to know and loathe in the ’80s and ’90s.
Well, they haven’t. And they are.