Daily Archives: 31 January 2006

Finally, some meat

At long last, the leadership election is starting bring out real issues, with both Ming Campbell and Chris Huhne starting to develop their policy stalls. Simon Hughes meanwhile is still stuck in willy waving mode.

From what I’ve read, Ming’s policy document is quite impressive. I need to go through it in more detail, but I do like the noises coming from its section on the environment. I think it’s unfair to attempt to compare Huhne’s initial outline of his basic position on environmental taxation with this more nuanced text, but it clearly puts the onus on Huhne to come up with something just as good.

Meanwhile, Huhne has a number of points in his section on leadership which should gladden the heart of plenty of anxious activists. His sections on keeping it local, leading and listening and winning the youth and student vote amount to a firm rebuttal of the centralisation that has been going on under Kennedy and Simon Hughes’ presidency over the past 12 months. I’m sure Andy Mayer will appear now and scream “activistocracy!” at me, but really this is simply good management and effective internal communication. If Campbell doesn’t address these issues, then we would be right to worry, especially given his emphasis on the parliamentary as a team (seemingly at the expense of the rest of us).

Meanwhile, another bizarre row has broken out between the two camps, with a spokesman for Campbell accusing Huhne of “naive populism” for calling for the government to set a date for withdrawing the troops from Iraq. I originally read this story earlier in the day before the Huhne camp had got its rebuttal in, but I too was puzzled as to how Campbell could use such robust language given that Campbell spent much of last year calling on the government to set a date for withdrawal. It does strike one of a bad case of the jitters.

Whatever. The point is, it looks like we’re starting to have a real debate on policy and strategy, which is badly needed. I hope we can all agree to welcome that.

“Action, not warm words!”

Grim times are ahead, if an official government report on global warming is to be believed.

So what, you might ask, is our government going to do about it?

You will be delighted to know that Environment Minister has declared that now is the time for “action, not warm words“. The only slight problem is that, erm, she wants the action from the one group of people constitutionally prevented from taking any action: the opposition.

Yes, that’s right. In response to opposition calls for the government to take action, the government has replied “No, you do it. Why do we have to do everything? God. This is so unfair!”

She also claims that the government supports cross-party co-operation on the issue, despite the fact that she turned down just such an opportunity a few months ago.

Fortunately however, all is not lost. Labour are, of course, Doing Something. What, you may ask?

Labour wants young people to become ‘climate change champions’ and has announced a competition to encourage people to get involved.

Nine winners aged between 10-18 will travel to Switzerland to see a glacier that is melting due to climate change and will get to meet government ministers to discuss the issue.

Of course, despite the fact that we are assured that this is a “Labour” initiative, it is actually run on a government website. But rest assured that this new team of 10-18 year olds will be able to pick up the slack.

They’ve got to be better than Margaret Beckett anyway.