UK Gov “Advisers” to Visit People at Home With “Tips on Sustainable Travel”

If there’s a knock on your front door when you’re back from work tomorrow, don’t ignore it. It might be an “adviser” from the government to talk to you about sustainable travel. As The Independent reports:

Have you had a call from a personal travel adviser yet? In some parts of the country, they are knocking on doors and offering tips on responsible travel. It is a government initiative, financed by the Local Sustainable Transport Fund, and its aim is to encourage more of us to leave the car at home when we shop, or go to work.

I don’t know about you, but any government official coming round to visit me to “encourage” me to leave my car at home when I go to work is going to get a few choice words about the state of the railways before being unceremoniously shown the door.

Isn’t this just typical of the whole approach to global warming though? Rather than actually deal with the state of the roads and rail, the Government’s solution is to send out officials to lecture us (you don’t really believe that “advice” line do you?) on how we can be more “sustainable”. Like government initiatives on tobacco, alcohol, and food, it will start with “advice” and “tips” before the inevitable calls come for legislation to help people make the right choices. Already, at this early stage you can see the way it will go, as the Daily Mail notes, the “advisers” are already coming back to check on whether their “advice” is being followed or not:

In Hereford, the 74,282 homes in the city will be visited twice, once for advisers to give information on public transport and cycling, and three months later to check whether the advice is being followed.

The article quotes the Transport Minister as claiming that the program of government officials knocking on your door in the evening to offer advice, followed by a check-up on you a couple of months later will “support authorities in delivering local economic growth while cutting carbon emissions from transport”. Again, isn’t this just a perfect example of global warming double-speak? The only possible way that this program delivers real economic growth is in the wages of those employed to go around giving advice.

Therefore, the real reason is cutting carbon emissions. Let’s leave aside the pointlessness of this for one moment. This scheme is costing hundreds of millions of pounds, would that money not be better spent on new train carriages then? Or improved public transport? Or even (horrors!) improving road junctions to speed up the flow of traffic.

Of course it would be. But here’s the thing, I believe, to remember: this scheme is setting a precedent. Because of their commitments on reducing carbon emissions, the government has a right to ask you about your way of living and “advise” you on how you could live in a more sustainable way. As I say, this will inevitably follow other government initiatives on health and lifestyle – they will start by protesting its only advice and pooh-poohing any suggestion of coercion. Then, when the concept is generally accepted, think-tanks and supposedly grass-roots groups (funded by the government, natch) will start calling for changes in the law to “help people make the right choice”.

13 responses to “UK Gov “Advisers” to Visit People at Home With “Tips on Sustainable Travel”

  1. And exactly how will these advisors travel around I wonder?

  2. I believe they learned this trick from the Chinese. But is does sound like they’ve added something to it. In China, back before the Capitalist Revolution, the Local Party Representative would go around knocking on doors to “inform” everyone of the latest revolutionary ideas and requirements (it was also a way to see who had what that they needed to share with the less fortunate, ie: The Party;-). Anyway, the method of hiring unemployed DoorKnockers to do whatever does put people back to work, and does give them all the Government Benefits too. And, if you hire many such people, in many such special specialties, why in no time at all everyone is back to workd paying taxes. Sounds great, doesn’t it. (Well, I guess it does if you’re not the one paying all those government wages from your limited non-government wages; there’s a little bug in every plan isn’t there?;-)

  3. The Man With Many Chins

    I suspect if I get such a knock on my door, they will be kindly invited to fornicate off before I kick them in the front bottom.

  4. For some reason, this is one kind of craziness that would be unimaginable in Germany. While most Germans willingly believe any well-made propaganda as long as it involves dramatic music or explosions, they would be flabbergasted and outraged by unmotivated visits by officials.

  5. They will look really well dressed in their brown shirts and biodegradable sandals.

  6. One possible scenario:

    “Good morning, Mrs Jones, may I interest you in a free low-intensity, carbon-neutral bicycle lamp? Ah, I see you have 35 different receptacles for domestic waste – you’re obviously as keen on recycling as I am! Well, no time to lose, as we’ve signed up everyone else in your street, and did you know that climate change is here and it’s happening now? I know you’re like all the rest of us, absolutely committed and mad about carbon reduction – just wanted to say well done, it’s people like you who are helping to save the planet! Think of how joyous you will be as you’re waiting for your bus or the train, or pedalling happily along on your bicycle, knowing that you’ve made this vital step, just like thousands of other hard-working families in this great country of ours. Credentials? Yes, of course – our programme is endorsed by the IPCC and climate scientists all over the world, who represent the gold standard of scientific rigour and probity. You have a cast-iron guarantee here, madam, I assure you. Now, let’s see – Super Climate Hero Pledge signed… check. Car to the scrapheap… check. Fabulous choice of overcrowded public transport or life-threatening cycle commute…. check. Skyrocketing green taxes… check. Lifetime penury in a low-carbon, third-world, has-been, ex-industrial eco-paradise… check. Excellent, all done and dusted. Thank you so much! We’ll be back in three months to see if you are complying – er, I meant to say we’ll be back to see how you are enjoying this wonderful, life-changing experience. Until then, Mrs Jones, good day!”

    Edinburgh Council have some useful advice about doorstep sales tactics here:
    http://tinyurl.com/3lmk9yd

  7. Will the visitors be furnished with a red button to push if their advice is not followed?

  8. HTL, you might consider asking Josh to do a slight variation on:

    http://bishophill.squarespace.com/blog/2010/10/7/josh-45.html

    It would be perfect for this page!

  9. The Nazi party comes to mind. If I have to listen to then waffle then they have to listen to me explain why their carbon policy is not sustainable.

    Long Live Freedom!

  10. I hope they are coordinating this program with the school teachers also. Brainwashing children is a very effective tool and they make great informants.

  11. Our council has a new ‘Core Strategy’ document which is supposed to guide them through to 2028. It exudes ecospeak so badly it is really quite entertaining. A word count finds 195 uses of sustainable and its variants and 208 instances of the word environment. I would hope they are really only using that vocabulary as a diversionary maneuver, to defend our area from central development directives, but I dont think they are that smart.

  12. freedomactionnow

    I’ve just noticed that you live in Formerly Great Britain. My condolences. That story reminded me of one I read on the BBC (or the Telegraph, or the Grauniad) about another inspector coming into a home and noticing a sandwich wrapper monstrously thrown into the wrong bin. The people who lived there were threatened with hefty fines,

    And don’t even try to tell us you have no rubbish this week.

    Or the town council who hired hoodies to go round and check everyone’s wheelie-bins,

    Someone should put a blindfold on the statue of Nelson, so he won’t have to see what a sad state the country has fallen into.

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