Coalition Green Gauge Swings To Tories
High profile Conservatives (including the Chancellor and the Energy minister John Hayes) spent most of 2012 trying to undermine and diminish the UK’s already doubtful commitment to building a green economy. Whether is was vetoing decarbonisation targets in the Energy Bill or publicly criticising proven renewable technologies, the dog whistle politics of backing industry or countryside lobbies over environmental concerns was too tempting to resist. By the end of the year Tory MPs had taken to booing every time the flagship Climate Change Act was mentioned. Outliers like Zac Goldsmith (rich eccentric) and Tim Yeo (City stooge) were easily marginalised.
Imagine my surprise then to see what the scamps at Tory central office were up to this morning. With tongue presumably in cheek, the Conservatives used the press surrounding the coalition’s mid-term report to take credit for existing green policies and wheel out some rare ‘Turquoise Tories‘ with gushing support for the green economy. It was a tour de force (or perhaps farce):
1. The coalition mid-term review repeated the claim (now abandoned by all but ministers on high doses of ‘Coalition Plus’ medication) that this is the ‘greenest government ever’.
2. Greg Barker (Minister of State for Energy and Climate Change) claimed that the Tories ‘came up with the Green Investment Bank, the Green Deal and a bold commitment to energy efficiency‘.
3. Backbenchers Laura Sandys and Claire Perry published a chapter in a 2020 Conservative pamphlet entitled: “Making the Green Economy the Mainstream Economy”.
On a day when green issues were fairly low down the agenda (amid headlines on road building) this was a cheeky attempt to take credit for Lib Dem successes in government and claim some ownership of the future environmental ground.
It’s great to see such bold support for the green agenda from the Conservatives.
It would just be a lot more plausible if these courageous green voices had been raised more loudly when green aspects of the Energy Bill were being deleted by their senior colleagues.