Monday, March 12, 2007

Followship not Leadership

The policy announcements from the British Conservatives on the environment turn out- as usual- to be as badly thought out as ever- VAT on domestic flights and a "frequent flyer tax". I am a frequent flyer myself, and if there was another way to conduct my business, which did not involve bleary eyed, early morning flights then believe me I would do it- but as yet there is no substitute but for the personal inspection of a business and with it face to face meetings with management. The idea that something so vital to the investment process can be dramatically curtailed by these taxes is simply laughable- all you do is increase costs. Meanwhile, given the state of the railways in the UK, VAT on flights simply reduces efficiency and increases costs still further. In any event, flying is still a very small part of total carbon pollution, albeit a fast growing part. Meanwhile Conservative councils are those most likely to reject renewable energy schemes- and electricity generation is the largest source of UK CO2 emissions.

Then when you read the small print you see that the eye catching initiative is simply part of a multiple choice questionnaire- with no commitment either way. So, we still do not have any credible Tory policy on the Environment- and the sham of leadership that this lightweight PR merchant gives is is exposed once more. It is a disgrace that a serious political party refuses to do more than dip its toe into anything that might demonstrate what the party might actually favour, might actually believe and still less what they might actually do in office.

The Tories may be ahead in the polls- given the travails of this dying Blair premiership, it would be surprising if they were not- but this is a fragile lead, and the enthusiasm of the electorate for them is demonstrably tepid.

The Liberal Democrats are continually renewing and refining our ideas- we have genuine policy debates. We have definite green ideas, which cover all of our policies. We have a point of view, which the electorate can agree or disagree with.

After this latest display of political cowardice from the Conservatives, it may not be long before their flimsy and insubstantial shadow cabinet is challenged to show some back bone - the genuine political courage that marks out what leadership is -or to get out.


Anonymous said...

The problem with British politics is that no one wants to take a major stand anymore on a wide array of issues. Now all we have is Blair/Campbell-esque spin of pseudo-populism and self-denial.

This is opposed by the confusion and chaos of Cameron's "conservatism" (this is a qualified description as he's strayed as far from conservatism as possible without renaming the party). There are always criticism from them (justifiably), but where are the real alternative policies? Just criticising and saying "we are doing a policy review to create our manifesto" is just yet another excuse.

And the LibDems, Cicero? They are just confused as well. As much as liberalism prides itself on individual merits and responsibility, it nevertheless needs some leadership to deliver that message. Ming is not Merciless, he's just tired. If the LibDems can't find a good messanger, it doesn't matter what the message is -- especially with the two evil forces running Westminster over the past 8 decades...

James said...

Ming is not the only face of the Liberal Democrats. Although I reject his "I am a politician of the Centre-Left" stuff, he has been a better leader than the other two because he has been happy to bring on people like Nick Clegg or Sarah Teather. This collegiate style is helping to reinforce talent across the board.

More importantly still, Ming does not regard different views as personal challenges, so our debates have tended to be more thoughtful and more honest. More to the point, the Liberals are winning over the doubters.

People did not join our party to climb the greasy pole of politics. The irony now may be that because we have clear ideas and firm principles, we may be more electable than we have been for decades.