On the capitalist side of the Great Ideological Divide, everyone is salivating at the prospect of the seemingly limitless quantities of shale gas available right under our own green-and-pleasant noses. George Osborne has at last got the message that we can't go on for long with the USA enjoying wholesale gas prices less than half of those we pay. The cry has gone up: we don't want to be dependent on Russian gas! (as if we get any gas from Russia) and the tax-breaks will soon be in full swing.
The greenie-left is also looking forward to renewed fracking with much glee. They have every intention of using it as a delightfully emotive rallying-point against the wicked Tories, and will be developing it into a form of large-scale outdoor relief for the youthful unemployed masses. If they can cause a week's worth of trouble at a major new gas-fired power plant project under the relatively obscure cry of 'no dash for gas', how much more difficulty can they create for a series of small, isolated drilling sites ?
Yes, the antis are relatively well organised. It is clear from the little nuggets of sophistry on their website that there are 'intellectuals' involved, and we may expect some well-coordinated rentamob stuff, with academics and lawyers and clever media campaigns, the whole works. The malicious left has long hankered after harnessing the summer-of-2011 lumpen-nihilism; and as a commenter on these pages suggested some months ago, from the ranks of the unemployed graduates may arise an officer class. Oh, how leftist intellectuals love egging others on to violence.
And on the other side ? How much enthusiasm does PC Plod have for stopping them ? In the
past it would have been the appealing twin prospects of massive overtime plus
cracking a few swampie skulls, and and let joy be unconfined. In 2013 I
am not so sure.
We should also recognize that Cuadrilla and all the other would-be UK drillas have been truly amateur in their PR efforts to date. They are of course being used as front-runners by the majors, who will keep well away until the minnows have proven up the geology and the reserves. Who wants to see their corporate image tarnished ?
Finally, has anyone seen any signs of resolve from our great coalition ? The nous to parlay dismay at rising heating costs into cheaper energy as a populist cause ?
Because that's what it needs to be. But I can easily see them blowing it over the next year or so, then bottling it for the election.
At least the gas won't be evaporating any time soon ...