38 Degrees but little freedom

Posted in: Comment, News and Updates

38 Degrees has been sending breathless emails about getting involved in shaping post-Brexit environment policy.  Here's how the message (to Caleb B –calebb@inverauchtamucktie.sc) began ...

Dear Caleb,

It’s crunch time for our environment. Right now the government’s deciding what our environmental protections will look like after Brexit. [1]  New laws could help protect our fields, seas and skies - or fall miserably short of what’s needed. [2]  The minister in charge, Michael Gove, has launched a consultation.  He wants our views about which rules and laws could help keep our fauna, flora and climate safe for years to come. [3]  It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity to have our say. If Michael Gove hears from hundreds of thousands of us, Caleb, he’ll know he has to make environmental standards stronger, not weaker, after Brexit. Together, we can protect our rolling hills and sparkling lakes. [4]  There’s one week to have our say.  Caleb, will you fill in the short survey about the environment after Brexit? Your answers will be sent straight to the government’s consultation.  You don’t need to be an expert to take part, and the 38 Degrees office team have worked with environmental experts to make the questions as simple as possible. [5]  Here's the first question to get you started:

Do you think we should protect the environment for future generations?

The government’s been making a lot of promises about protecting the environment after Brexit. [6]  But plans are still up in the air. Influential MPs are urging the government to do more. [7]  Environmental organisations are queuing up to have a say. But what’s missing are the voices of ordinary people like us.  38 Degrees-ers are a broad church - we don’t all think the same things about Brexit. But we’re united because together we believe that our seas, fields, and bees should be protected and preserved for generations to come. Strong laws after Brexit could make or break that, and Michael Gove will only act if he knows the public wants him to.  Together we’ve done a lot to protect our environment. Hundreds of thousands of us pressured Michael Gove to back a ban on bee-killing pesticides, stopped our forests from being sold off to private hands, and convinced some much-loved tea brands to go plastic-free. [8]  But we need to step up once again, and make sure our hard work’s not undone by weak environmental protections after Brexit.  So, Caleb, will you take a couple of minutes to take the survey, and tell the government you want them to protect our environment for generations to come? Your answers will be sent straight to the government’s consultation.  Here's the first question:

Do you think we should protect the environment for future generations?

Thanks, Caleb, for being involved.


By the time I got to the end of all this tendentious and patronising guff I was so irritated that I responded 'NO'.

But here's the thing, if you do that, it's about as much as you can do as most of the follow-up questions assume that you've clicked 'YES' or at least 'Don't Know'.  What a stitch up.

On reflection, of course, I then responded 'YES' and worked my way through the questions and options.  I had two thoughts as I did this: [i] you had to be very well informed (more so than I was) to respond adequately to some of the issues; [ii] I was being firmly steered towards providing the responses that 38 degrees favoured.  In the end, I didn't submit it, although I have written to my MP about these issues.


Posted in: Comment, News and Updates


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