There has always been an uneasy relationship between dreams and reality. What we want and what we can achieve are not – as the inspirational speakers suggest – one and the same. “All you have to do is to believe in yourself and you can be whatever you want to be.” That’ the mantra, but it is as flawed as flawed can be. Yes, if you are a gifted and enthusiastic athlete, with the right musculature, nervous system, drive and training, you might get to compete in the Olympics. And then get beaten by a man in a dress.
The multicultural dream must have seemed like an ideal solution to everything, to the twonks who dreamed it up. Just imagine an incredible blend of all the talents, all the flair, all the vibrant cultural contributions; all mixed up to add zest to our national ambitions. But while academic professionals, experts in their fields, with a secular attitude to life and a hunger for knowledge might mingle well, the reality for many is sheer misery. Unmanaged immigration has brought squalor, graft, modern slavery and terror to our shores.
The Covid affair was a golden opportunity for Boris Johnson’s government to unite the country against a common enemy. Surely, if we all clap for the NHS, mask up, sanitise and socially distance for a few weeks, we can not only beat this thing, but beat it together. But, after a dismal series of confusing advice, U-turns, clarifications followed by reverse clarifications, well look where we are. When it had a chance to show strong leadership, Project Boris turned an opportunity into a disaster.
And then there is the dash for Net-Zero. Oh my. Forget Covid, immigration, transactivism and all the rest. This is the Daddy of unworkable ambition. The ending of the sale of gas boilers by 2035 has been pushed to 2040. As I recall, they were intending to ban them over a decade ago. Why the shifted goalpost? Because the date, plucked no doubt from thin air by a pimply pre-pubescent government advisor, was unrealistic from the start.
But if that seems like good news, the all-consuming obsession with electric transport appears to be more rabid than ever. Why? After all, we could reduce our actual man-made carbon output to actual zero if we simply became extinct in some Jonestown-like national suicide pact, but it would make not one jot of difference. The Chinese economy alone would probably absorb any reduction we made within a week.
As an example of unrealistic ambition versus achievable reality this has to be up there. When MPs voted for the 80% reduction by 2050 target demanded by the Climate Change Act, back in 2008 many probably assumed that 40 years was enough time to develop the technology and change the behaviours. More importantly, they judged that it was far enough ahead that the fallout would be mopped up by their successors. But in 2019, like a loser at the table, they doubled-down on their gamble and said, “80%? Pah! Let’s shed the lot!”
Why do we live in this artificial world of hyperbole, where every normal thing is amazing and everybody deserves to ‘live their truth’, regardless of ability to achieve it? When people talk of ‘holding the government to account’ they then do nothing whatsoever to actually achieve that aim. Instead they reel off a few slogans, pat themselves on the back, promote each other way beyond their competence and label it achievement. And then reward it further, by elevation to the Lords.
With every illusory sleight of hand, by governments, by ‘influencers’, by wannabes like Femi Oluwole, who inflate their relevance and imagine themselves into a job, we are slowly losing our grip on the here and now, the cold, hard facts. Unreality TV, vacuous ‘slebs’, the endorsing of anti-heroes and vaunting ambition all serve to blur people’s understanding of their limits. Within your means, yes, you should strive to be all you can. But for fuck’s sake, let’s get real again and recognise when we just have to get on with it, recover our sanity, and make do with what we’ve got.