Lionel Shriver is an American lady novelist in London and a Guardian columnist of conventionally leftie views. But she has a corker of a piece in the print edition of The Wall Street Journal (subscribers click here) about the creepy ecototalitarianism of the British state, all in the interests of “saving the planet”. Among the examples she cites: $200 fines for poorly separated recycling and “microchips implanted in wheelie bins [trash cans] to weigh residential refuse – dragging Britain’s surveillance culture to a new low”.
Just so. It’s not enough that the average Briton is captured on closed-circuit TV cameras in his car, in the street, in the shopping mall, and even in country lanes where the rural constabulary have hidden them in trees to catch illegal fox hunters. Now the government is monitoring his garbage. If they ever take up Sheryl Crow’s all-we-are-saying-is-give-one-piece-a-chance toilet-paper rationing, you can bet the enforcers will mandate CCTVs in every bathroom if not microchips in the bowl.
If George Bush put a microchip in your garbage under the Patriot Act, there’d be mass demonstrations across the land. But do it in the guise of saving the planet and everyone’s fine with it. Meanwhile, to encourage recycling, garbage collection has been halved from weekly to fortnightly. As a result, flies swarm and rats gambol. One of the biggest causes of improved health and life expectancy over the last 150 years has been what we now regard as simple hygiene: clean bathroom facilities and waste disposal. Between Miss Crow and Her Majesty’s Government, we seem determined to reverse that.