Huhne’s Long Shadow
There is never a good day for a former Cabinet minister to admit perverting the course of justice. However for the department he once led and the green policies he once championed, the guilty plea of former Sec of State for Climate, Chris Huhne, could not have come at a worse time.
Since Huhne resigned to ‘clear his name’, Ed Davey and his colleagues at DECC have battled to overcome naysayers in the press and the political campaign of the Chancellor to directly undermine DECC’s efforts to build a green economy in the UK through changes to the Energy Bill.
Despite backing the Chancellor on those changes to the Energy Bill, the Prime Minister, David Cameron, today, finally, came out with a strong speech on the Green Economy.
For business leaders, the energy sector and green campaigners this was the most encouraging speech for a long time. The general tone was strident and uncompromisingly supportive of the green economic agenda. The delivery was calm and businesslike, the arguments were logical and economically grounded, and there was even a sound-bite to fly in the face of his backbench critics and grab the headlines:
“To those who say we just can’t afford to prioritise green energy right now, my view is we can’t afford not to”
Yet instead of grabbing the headlines, the speech has not featured in today’s news broadcasts. Instead the airwaves have been cleared for Huhne’s dramatic guilty plea at Southwark crown court.
Huhne’s fall from grace is a once-in-a-generation political story that would knock all but the most dramatic event off the domestic news agenda.
As a result of this unfortunate timing however, hapless Huhne, will head of the clink knowing that he has not only disgraced his family, his party and his profession, but he has also managed to deal a blow to the political fight to secure this country’s economic and environmental future.
Despite his words being buried by the media, we can at least hope and expect that David Cameron will remember this speech and will work with Davey to win the argument with the Treasury and deliver on this re-stated pledge;
“When I become Prime Minister I said I wanted Britain to have the greenest government ever and I am as committed to that today as I was then… Together we can make Britain a global showcase for green innovation and energy efficiency.”