UK Political Parties discuss green issues in run up to local elections

Thursday, April 20, 2006

The main political parties in the United Kingdom have been battling fiercely over environmental issues in the run up to the local council elections on May 4th. David Cameron, the new leader of the Conservative Party, has been talking up his party's green credentials under the slogan 'vote blue to go green', ahead of his 'fact-finding' trip to Norway to see a shrinking glacier. Meanwhile, Chancellor Gordon Brown, widely considered to be the next Labour leader, has been discussing green issues and policies ahead of his trip to the US, where he will deliver speeches at the UN, G7 and IMF. The Liberal Democrat party, who have the longest track record of supporting green policies, haven't been quite as active, with leader Ming Campbell criticised for being slow to give up his 'gas-guzzling' car.

The political wrangling between Labour and the Tories intensified after Labour produced a party political broadcast, shown on tv, which portrayed David Cameron as a chameleon, changing his colours to appeal to his audience but remaining blue underneath. Margaret Beckett MP, Labour's Environment Secretary, accused Cameron of a 'flip-flop', criticising him for voting against the Cleaner Neighbourhoods and Environment Act. The Liberal Democrats suggested that Cameron is merely 'posturing' and said the government has done nothing on issues like aviation emissions.

The Green Party, which has no MPs but has MEPs and London Assembly members, said that Cameron "gave tokenism a bad name" and was fooling no-one. Green Party speaker Keith Taylor attacked Cameron's record on actual green policies, contrasting his rhetoric of the environment being a "top priority" with his support for airport expansion and road-building.

Cameron has also hinted that he is unsure about the idea of building new nuclear power stations, which the Tories have long supported. Blair still claiming not to have decided on the issue either, the political debate on this issue is yet to get really started.


This audio file was created from the text revision dated 2006-04-20 and may not reflect subsequent text edits to this report. (audio help)