How Woke is Wokingham?
Updated: Nov 3
Suella Braverman is much in the news, although Matt Hancock seems to be doing his best to knock her off the front pages! Matt is free to go to the Jungle and chew on whatever they can find for him, but I have to respond to the accusation that somehow eating Tofu is to blame for clogging up our roads!
Speaking on a day that saw major delays on the M25 as Just Stop Oil members protested at the Dartford Crossing, Braverman told MPs: “I’m afraid it’s the Labour Party, it’s the Lib Dems, it’s the coalition of chaos, it’s the Guardian-reading, tofu-eating wokerati, dare I say, the anti-growth coalition that we have to thank for the disruption that we are seeing on our roads today.”
Tofu, also known as bean curd in English, is a food prepared by coagulating soy milk and then pressing the resulting curds into solid white blocks of varying softness. I had no idea it could be used to disrupt traffic! I think I may have misunderstood ☹
Wokerati is defined in the Urban Dictionary but the definition is a bit too rude to reproduce here. However, Wokeism is defined in Collins English Dictionary as: Informal, often derogatory. The behaviour and attitudes of people who are sensitive to social and political injustice.
The real clincher of course is: Guardian reading. It all becomes clear now, because we all know what reading the Guardian means. The paper's readership is generally on the mainstream left of British political opinion, and the term "Guardian reader" is used to imply a stereotype of liberal, left-wing or "politically correct" views.
So put it all together and the anti-growth coalition are now defined as people who are probably left of centre politically, possibly vegetarian and who care about injustice. Could this be why there is now growth, growth, growth in the Tee Shirt and Coffee Mug industries sporting this new brand? (Note to self, possible Christmas present ideas here!)
Or could it be that it is the obsession with “growth” that is clogging up our roads, polluting our atmosphere and destroying our environment? At the risk of sounding more than just a little bit “Woke” are more houses, more cars, more “stuff” that we don’t actually need but are being told we should want, a bigger problem than a few anti oil protestors?
When I post links to my blog on social media I get mixed responses, including climate change deniers who say the droughts, floods, fires and unseasonable weather are just that: Ordinary weather. It seems that sticking your head in the sand and ignoring facts like the impact of human activity on “green house gases” is a lot easier than acknowledging them, because then you might have to make some changes, and change (like getting out of your car and onto a bus) as we all know, can be difficult.
Of course it was not helpful that the oil industry lied about climate change for decades. (Carefully edited link to avoid referencing the Guardian!) But then I am clearly part of the problem, having sold my car and bought an electric bike, I am well on my way to full time membership of the anti-growth coalition.
But what has any of this got to do with Hall Farm and the 4,500 houses the University of Reading would like to see built there? Perhaps a photo of Mole Road, Arborfield (that borders the land it is proposed to build on) taken at around 08.30 this morning might give a clue.
In 2020, households in England had an average of 1.24 cars. However if we exclude London (the area with the lowest rate of vehicle ownership) then the typical English household had 1.33 cars. A quick calculation (1.33 cars x 4,500 houses) gives 5,985 additional cars on our local roads. Historically Wokingham has a relatively high level of car ownership. According to the 2001 census Wokingham had one car for every 1.64 persons, so a more accurate calculation is 1.64 x 4,500, or 7,380 additional cars on our local roads.
But of course this is not the complete picture, because Hall Farm is just one of many new housing proposals for the Arborfield area. A SOLVE Hall Farm member did this calculation regarding the number of proposed developments currently in the pipeline:
· 1000 units at Barkham Square
· 40 units at Edneys Hill, Barkham
· 140 units at Old Reading Football Training Ground
· 225 units at Ducks Nest Farm, Arborfield
· 450 units at Cross Lanes Farm, Arborfield
· 4500 units at Hall Farm/ Loddon Valley
· Plus commercial units on Observer Way
So, that adds up to 6,355 houses (plus commercial developments) currently proposed for the South of Wokingham Borough.
6,355 houses x 1.64 average number of cars per household gives a staggering:
10,422 ADDITIONAL cars on our local roads!
(Never mind the vans and lorries).
I am not in favour of closing roads with protests. As pointed out above, I don’t need to be, at this rate the roads will simply close themselves. I am also not a big fan of Tofu, but I do try to keep an open mind about what I eat and these days consume very little red meat.
I occasionally read the Guardian 😉