FROM ‘GREENEST government ever’ to ‘get rid of all the green crap’ – so what are Cameron’s true colours?
Though you might disagree with its regular criticism of green policies, you’d have to agree with the Sun newspaper’s description of the prime minister as a “Cameleon”. This is the man who, in opposition, went hugging huskies, pitching himself as Eton’s answer to Swampy and promising the “greenest ever” government. From forming the coalition government in 2010 to February this year, he hardly uttered a word on environmental issues. “To those who say we just can’t prioritise green energy right now, my view is we can’t afford not to,” he said, breaking his silence.
Since then David Cameron’s stance on everything from climate change to energy has been confused at best. Speaking in the aftermath of Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines in November, he said: “If I said to you: ‘There’s a 60% chance your house might burn down – do you want to take out some insurance?’, you take out some insurance. I think we should think about climate change like that.
“Scientists are giving us a very certain message. Even if you’re less certain than the scientists it makes sense to act both in terms of trying to prevent and mitigate. As a practical politician I think the sensible thing is to say let’s take preventative and mitigating steps given the chances this might be the case.”
A few days later there’s a report in the Sun suggesting that the prime minister told aides to “get rid of all the green crap”.
Downing Street said it did not recognise the comments at all, but in a period when Cameron had also stated that he wanted to “roll back” green regulations and charges, one wonders who to believe. The storm has certainly taken the heat from go-to green critic George Osborne.
Meanwhile, in the yellow corner, the deputy prime minister continues to plug away. “On no other issue has the political establishment proved more fickle” than on the environment, Nick Clegg said in a speech in November. “Just look at the current debate on energy bills and green levies. The same Conservative and Labour politicians who used to shout at one another across the dispatch box: ‘You don’t care about the environment, we’re the greenest’ now turn the accusation on its head: ‘You care too much about the environment, you’re the greenest’.”
And while the hot air flows across Whitehall, emissions continue to grow (see page 25) and little gets done. This has left our politicians looking less like chameleons and more like headless chickens.