Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Elections and the environment

A comment on Shuggy’s post on the environment and the electoral cycle.

I’d normally stick to his comments box, but he seems to be fighting a rearguard action against trolls and he’d probably end up deleting me by mistake.

For some time, the green-left has had to let Labour off the hook on the environment on electoral grounds. No matter how strongly you hold a conviction in democratic politics, if it threatens your ability to retain power, it usually becomes unthinkable. Until this summer, Labour’s only significant dip in the opinion polls came at the time of the fuel protests.

And while the fuel protests were not officially led by the Tories, they were given plenty of tacit support. Indeed, this is a long-standing MO that the Tories have been using.

But with the new Hippy Cameron in charge, Labour have two options:
  1. Pull a flanker. Start to pull him all over the place on the subject by raising the stakes. Introduce proposals designed to stretch the Tories to breaking point. In recent years, whenever Labour want to keep a Tory leader awake, all they need to do is loudly consider the Euro again. Every mention causes a new outbreak of fratricide at Central Office. CO2 emissions could provide a new tool in this respect. And Labour could expect plenty of help in this from the clowns as it offers endless scope the kind of sloppy narratives that they love so much.
  2. Strike a deal. Allow Cameron to use greening as a way of modernising his party. In exchange, neutralise it as an election issue while allowing Labour to go to the country on a fairly radical platform of emissions limiting measures.
Number two is the principled option, obviously. There are a number of problems with it though. The most obvious one is that you can’t trust the Tories as far as you’d throw them. Alongside this, there is always the worry that some ‘ratepayer’ type alliance (the next version of UKIP?) could emerge in the process.

And all of this assumes that Labour really does want to pursue a greener policy - you know, deep down.

The wider question of how long-termism can be compatible with representative democracy is, of course, a fascinating one that deserves a book to itself – not just a blog-post.

For the record, I think it can be, and I think I know how it can be. Anyone know a publisher that hands out advances rashly?

1 comment:

Shuggy said...

Anyone know a publisher that hands out advances rashly?

Don't even know one that does so prudently; you'll have to tell us for free...

Not expecting the book, you understand.