In today’s speech by David Cameron the PM revelled in being unapologetically posh. The PM didn’t hide his privileged roots at Eton, his views on discipline, his tough talk on benefit cheats and his caring conservatism when it comes to the NHS.
The blue rinse brigade are no longer all white, elderly and home counties he proclaimed. Under him black or white, northern or southern, gay or straight, all are welcome as Tories. Lots of verve, passion and vigour in a 50 minute speech with the phrase “Britain can deliver” plastered all behind him, the PM said the nation was capable of competing in the new world order where the new economic giants Brazil, India, Russia and China were leading. All good positive stuff.
But this colourful speech had something missing…not a hint of green anywhere. Here’s what he had to say about energy and the green agenda in today’s speech: “We’re number one in the world for offshore wind. Number one in the world for tidal power. The world’s first green investment bank.” Err that was it, 23 words to encapsulate an industry worth 4% of GDP and employing 250,000 people.
This was nothing like his early rhetoric on the climate and energy, back in 2007 he said this: “Some people say it is not popular to talk about green issues. I don’t care. It’s right and it falls to this generation to deal with this issue. Some people say that there is nothing that we can do because China builds a power station every six weeks and what can we in Britain do? I think they have got it wrong. Look at what’s happening in China. The Gobi desert expanding by 4,000 miles every year. A half of their river water not just not fit to drink but not fit to use for farming. Hundreds of thousands of people dying from air pollution every year.
“And how will we be able to encourage China to act unless we act here at home? And again the old politics is failing. Carbon emissions are up under this government. Green taxes as a share of total taxes are down. And we are failing to give people proper incentives… we must be in the party of sensible, green leadership, and that is exactly where we are going to stay.”
Something’s changed in the past five years hasn’t it? Has the reality of setting carbon targets and promises to be green hit home? One need only look at the changes to policy over the past year to see how the colour green has slipped from the Tory mindset, the delayed EMR, the u-turn on solar FiTs, the tax breaks for North Sea oil, the backlash against wind. Perhaps you can’t blame David Cameron on saying less on energy this year.
Less is often more they say…but perhaps this time its actually less said the better.