One of the few potential benefits of Brexit, in my view, is leaving the EU's Common Agricultural Policy. It's an unmitigated disaster. Its perverse incentives have destroyed, across the EU, hundreds of thousands of hectares of wildlife habitat.
On paper, the Westminster government's proposed Environmental Land Management Scheme (ELMS) looks like a major improvement on CAP. But ...
What we've seen over the past few years in the UK is a complete collapse of effective regulation, monitoring and enforcement in the countryside. Soil is stripped from the land, rivers are poisoned, raptors slaughtered, and seldom does anyone even turn up, let alone take action.
The regulatory bodies - the Environment Agency, Natural England, Rural Payments Agency and their equivalents in Wales, Scotland and NI - have had their funding and staff slashed, are demoralised and caged, and instructed by their governments to take a "voluntary approach".
They are completely incapable of enforcing existing regulations, or monitoring the "cross compliance" obligations on farmers receiving EU subsidies. So how can they be expected to monitor and enforce a system of payments made for public goods delivered?
This is a far greater task than anything the current regulators are expected to do. If the scheme is not to descend into farce, every field and building and tank on every farm will need to be checked every few years. And properly checked, not just scanning a satellite image.
To discharge this function in any sensible way, the government would have to lay down billions for new environmental regulation. But while it's happy to spend billions bailing out destructive industries, it is everywhere cutting regulators to the bone.
So in practice, what is likely to happen is a continuation in all but name of the Common Agricultural Policy. Do you own or lease this land? Is it being farmed? Are you the named recipient? OK, here's the money.

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More from @GeorgeMonbiot

15 Sep
Yes, it was satisfying to watch Ed Milliband tear into Boris Johnson last night.
But Johnson still has an 80-seat majority, though only 20.5% of the total population voted for the Conservatives.
Let's not get carried away by small victories when the whole system is crocked.
Our dysfunctional system reduces us to spectators at the theatre for five long years. It might be entertaining, but that's all it is. We have scarcely any means of affecting the decisions the government makes, even if almost all of us opposed them.
This is because our politics is based on presumed consent. Some of you voted for this government, therefore we presume that the nation as a whole consents to everything we do for the next five years.
There is no democratic basis for this presumption.
Read 5 tweets
14 Sep
There is no such thing as "the news". At any time, millions of events and trends are happening around the world. Editors select a tiny handful of them and declare them newsworthy.
And, with the help of thinktanks and lobbyists, they invent stories out of thin air.
They do so in the service of an agenda. If the medium is owned by a billionaire, they select or invent stories to suit his worldview, his interests, and those of the group with which he identifies.
Even Noam Chomsky's Five Filters model is arguably too generous. Much of what hits the front pages has no connection to "raw news" at all.
Read 6 tweets
11 Sep
Every day in this country, newspapers owned by billionaires living offshore tell us that the problems we suffer are caused not by the power of money, but by immigrants and foreign officials.
And every day millions of people believe them.
This is the mess we are in.
People tell me "it's not the newspapers' fault: they just report the news."
They don't report the news, they create it. "News" is the propaganda of the oligarch.
They do so to shape the political life of this nation, to suit their billionaire proprietors.
Every day, massive things happen - environmental disasters, theft and fraud by the very rich, power grabs and lobbying - that go unreported by the billionaire papers. Every day, they concoct scandals out of marginal issues, or out of thin air.
Read 6 tweets
9 Sep
Another reminder of why they call economics "the dismal science".
Here's why this "natural capital" approach is deeply flawed - unless you're hoping to make a killing from nature.…
Markets change the meaning of the things we discuss, replacing moral obligations with commercial relationships. This corrupts and degrades our intrinsic values and empties public life of moral argument.
Read 4 tweets
8 Sep
While capital can respond to government decisions every second, withdrawing its approval with catastrophic consequences if it doesn't like them, citizens are stuck with a voting system that allows us to make just one, incredibly crude decision every 5 years.
There's a massive imbalance of power here. The voting power of capital, with modern trading technologies, has advanced by leaps and bounds, while electoral power is trapped in an antiquated model, developed when the fastest information technology was the quill pen.
Capital's consent is given or withdrawn every moment of the day.
Our consent is PRESUMED, for five years at a time, regardless of what we might actually think about government policy.
We don't accept the principle of presumed consent in sex. Why should we accept it in politics?
Read 6 tweets
3 Sep
We have a government whose inner circle belives that some people are genetically predisposed to do better than others.

And that anyone can achieve success by pulling themselves up by their bootstraps.

Both positions cannot be true.

Both legitimise peculiar forms of cruelty.
Both these positions deny the structural causes of inequality, exclusion and poverty.

You can see why the government's rich backers champion these beliefs.
That the government's special advisers feel no obligation to resolve this crashing contradiction shows how little intellectual challenge they have received from the media and Opposition, and how effective propaganda and distraction have been in dulling our critical faculties.
Read 7 tweets

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