Is Ed Davey Heading for the Quad?

There is a whisper circulating around Westminster that Nick Clegg wants an opportunity to replace Danny Alexander with Ed Davey in the ‘quad’ that settles key coalition policy.   If it happens it would freshen up the central coalition team, dispel any Lib Dem fears of a double agent (Alexander) in the heart of government, and provide a direct challenge to George Osborne’s anti-green agenda.   In short, it’s a good idea.

The timing would also be canny.

Cameron has spent the past few months building his old boys’ club of personal advisors, most recently adding Cornish MP George Eustace to the prefects to advise on climate and energy.  Eustace’s colours on renewable energy have already been shown.  His willingness to put political expediency before good policy by backing unproven marine technology over cost-effective onshore wind is worrying.

When that kind of short-sighted fudge is added to regressive dolly mixture of ideas currently being slammed down David Cameron’s throat by his back-benchers, this is another appointment that is likely to leave the renewables sector with a sour taste.

Davey, on the other hand, is on a solid roll at the moment.  He took over a difficult department at the most challenging of times, and has kept one of the government’s key legislative juggernauts – the Energy Bill – on track, while regularly chipping in to support the green economy.

A recent strongly worded speech against climate scepticism  caught headlines, while yesterday’s lambasting of ‘saloon-bar politicians’ of UKIP and the ‘vested interests’ of the anti-green Tories was a rare dose of sanity in a week of political madness.  He’s also talking sense on the EU’s impact on environmental laws and fighting oil cartels, as well as pushing the UK’s pivotal role in the UN negotiations on climate that appear to be finally bearing some Chinese fruit.

The Lib Dems have consistently shown themselves to be at their most distinctive, radical and popular when championing environmental policies.  By bringing Davey to the top table Clegg can demonstrate to core supporters how seriously he considers the progressive energy and climate agenda to be.

However, Davey can also be a key asset in the economic argument that will decide the next election.  He will ensure that the green economy that has delivered consistent growth throughout the recession is central to the coalition’s agenda.  With a seat in the quad, Davey can directly counteract George Osbourne’s attempts to undermine the green economy and can teach Osborne a thing or two about how to attract sustainable, low carbon investment.  The Chancellor may also pick up a few more general tips.  Davey holds a MSc in economics.

Everyone’s a winner (except, perhaps, Mrs Davey).

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