Monday 28 September 2009

New Tory generation not convinced on climate change, says ConHome editor

The Conservative party is not fully convinced that climate change matters, according to Tim Montgomerie, editor of the influential ConservativeHome website, speaking at the Fabian Society's "Who are the real Conservatives?" debate at the Labour party conference in Brighton.

Montgomerie said that his party was enthused by David Cameron's commitment to making environmental issues a high profile Conservative issue - but were not sure that this should extend to the issue of climate change, predicting that this would become a big internal debate over the next few years.

I don't think the parliamentary party or the grassroots are convinced about climate change.

He suggested that rising commodity prices would lead to a major internal debate about whether to return to coal.

"As someone who is very sceptical about what we can do about climate change, I think keeping the lights on will prevail", he said.

Personally, I am somewhat surprised by Montgomerie's analysis.

It would be enormously difficult for Cameron to retain any credibility on green issues if he were to resile from cross-party commitments on climate change. But they do suggest that there might be very little internal political pressure for the commitments that are needed to meet Britain's carbon reduction targets.

Montgomerie is influenced by his own scepticism about the climate change issue - but I fully acknowledge that he understands the Conservative grassroots and what the party feels in its gut much better than I do.

It would be interesting to know whether the ConservativeHome survey's of candidates views provide any evidence about this.

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