Article 15 of 20 – ” From ‘greenest government ever’ to ‘get rid of all the green crap’: David Cameron, the Conservatives and the environment.”

More excellent stuff, helping me situate the 2010-2015 period, some of which I wasn’t here for, some of which I wasn’t paying close attention to the national level for, some of which I was paying attention, but not close enough… Good academic work will help you do that – put the various fragments and piece of the puzzle(s) that you dimly/acutely remember in a coherent and cogent frame (but of course, you must never fall in love with a pretty picture…)

Carter, N. and Clements, B., 2015. From ‘greenest government ever’ to ‘get rid of all the green crap’: David Cameron, the Conservatives and the environment. British Politics, 10, 204–225. doi:10.1057/bp.2015.16

They ” argue that although in opposition the environment did operate as a valence issue and contributed positively to the modernization project, after the Conservatives entered government the impact of the green strategy was shaped – and often undermined – by the transformation of climate change into a positional issue, characterized by growing disagreement between political actors and the wider electorate over this issue ” (Carter and Clements, 2015: 205).

I very much remember this stuff playing out

“Cameron devoted less attention to the environment after Brown became Prime Minister in June 2007. The immediate catalyst was the need to shore up Conservative support to deter Brown from calling a snap election that autumn, which prompted a shift back to a familiar Conservative agenda of crime, traditional family values and immigration. Subsequently, Cameron seemed more reluctant to discuss the environment in his speeches and he omitted it from a May 2008 press conference spelling out the priorities for a future Conservative government.” (Carter and Clements, 2015: 208)

But largely missed this

Disgruntled party activists used the growing range of political blogs to vent their feelings, and negative stories were frequently picked up in the right-wing press. Osborne’s declaration that a Conservative government would increase green taxes, albeit with no rise in the overall tax burden, provoked widespread anger on the backbenches. When the Quality of Life Policy Group reported in September 2007, in the middle of the phoney election campaign, the mood had shifted. The launch of the report was a fiasco (former Conservative advisor, personal interview, September 2014) and it was widely criticized by [page break] Conservative  MPs and the right-wing press. This discontent prompted the leadership to issue an immediate public rejection of two controversial proposals for new green taxes on supermarket parking and on short flights – and the document was quickly shelved. After the onset of the financial and economic crisis in Autumn 2008 helped solidify opposition to green taxes (on the grounds that it would reduce the competitiveness of British business), the Shadow Chancellor quietly dropped the idea and there was no mention of green taxes in the 2010 Conservative manifesto. (Carter and Clements, 2015: 208-9)

The Quality of Life Challenge website is still up, btw.

George Osborne’s perspective is well-covered

Osborne was clearly unconvinced by green growth arguments and, in various inter-departmental disputes, he lobbied hard against key measures. Thus he resisted pressure to allow the Green Investment Bank to borrow before 2015. He also blocked the inclusion of a 2030 decarbonisation target in the Energy Bill, despite it being recommended by the Climate Change Committee and supported by the House of Commons Select Committee on Energy and Climate Change, MPs from all parties and many business leaders. This decision prompted an active campaign by a coalition of major ENGOs to secure an amendment to the Bill – proposed by Conservative Tim Yeo – that would insert a decarbonisation target. Eventually, this amendment was narrowly defeated in the Commons and the Lords in June 2013 (Harvey, 2013). (Carter and Clements, 2015: 215)

There’s plenty other stuff too here. The take-home message seems to be bitter internal fights meant that “business-friendly” policies, which is what you sorta expect from the “right-wing” parties were not really forthcoming… Comparable to Australia. The “culture war” battles launched by the troglodytes are making ecological modernisation that much more difficult, because they are having important and not entirely intended (I suspect) consequences in other important parts of the overall governance system… Good thing I didn’t breed, innit?

Lots of useful references (esp around specifics. For me, will probably want to consult these)

Cameron, D. (2007) Improving our environment: A social responsibility. In: T. Carty (ed.) A Greener Shade of Blue: Reflections on New Conservative Approaches to the Environment. London: Green Alliance, pp. 9–15.

Dommett, K. (2015) The theory and practice of party modernisation: The conservative party under David Cameron 2005–2015. British Politics 10(2): 249–266.

Green Alliance (and six ENGOs) (2013) Green Standard 2013: A Review of Green Leadership on the Environment Since the 2010 General Election. London: Green Alliance (and six ENGOs).

Harvey, F. (2013) Decarbonisation target narrowly defeated in commons energy bill vote. The Guardian 4 June.

Lockwood, M. (2013) The political sustainability of climate policy: The case of the UK Climate Change Act. Global Environmental Change 23(5): 1339–134 .

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