I just followed a tree on Twitter…

I just followed a tree on Twitter.

There is every chance its tweets will be as sensible as anything else on Twitter, and besides I like trees.

Today, before the tree thing, I was casting about for ideas and wondered about ‘Lexit’. This is the neologism for left-wing people who favour Brexit. These are people who think along similar lines to me about many matters, but not about Brexit. Jeremy Corbyn is probably one, although he isn’t saying exactly. Instead he is playing a gnomic game of wait-and-see on Brexit.

Then I wondered about Venezuela. Plenty of left-wing people admire Venezuela, but the country seems to be in a mess, with last Sunday’s election reported to have been rigged. The disputed election gives the government of President Nicolas Maduro extreme powers to act as it wishes.

I don’t know enough to have an unshakeable opinion, but could always blame the US, the default turn-left position on Venezuela.

The former Mayor of London Ken Livingstone – presently suspended from the Labour Party, but not from opening his mouth – says President Hugo Chavez, often seen as a hero on the left, is to blame for the current mess because he didn’t follow Ken’s advice. “He didn’t kill all the oligarchs,” Ken told Talk Radio. Or maybe it was Talk Nonsense Radio, as it is difficult to pay full attention when Ken veers off on one.

Let’s return to that tree’s Twitter account. The tree is called Duchess Lime. Other trees with Twitter accounts are available, but this one caught my eye.

Duchess Lime is from Sheffield, not a good city to call home if you are a tree. Around five years ago, the Labour-led city council in Sheffield signed a PFI contact with Amey Hallam Highways to resurface roads, replace street lights and maintain the city’s 36,000 roadside trees as part of a 25-year programme.

As far as anyone can see, Amey’s main wish is to chop down as many trees as possible, just to make the job easier. People in the city have been arrested defending those trees – and some healthy trees were felled in the early hours and with a police escort.

That sounds like the actions of a police state, not a local council. You don’t have to go all the way to Venezuela to feel outraged.

The Labour politicians in Sheffield should be ashamed of themselves for coming to such a rotten deal. They can blame government cuts all they like, but they hired the tree hit men. Duchess Lime can have that one for free.

We live in an avenue of lime trees and this is partly what drew me to the Duchess. Maybe it shows a lack of imagination to worry about trees in Sheffield because of the trees outside our house. But I love those mighty old trees. They green out the traffic and soften the view. And I’ll be there with a climbing rope and a pair of ageing knees if anyone from our council signs a money-saving deal with a bunch of corporate tree assassins.

And thank you, Duchess – you gave me something to think about. I’ll tweet you later.

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