Tuesday, October 18, 2011

And now it's Labour's Act

Rather overshadowed by events at the Conservative Party conference in Manchester last week, I wrote, was a line in George Osborne's speech which could mark the start of a long overdue political transformation in Britain.

The Chancellor acknowledged that a decade of environmental laws had been piling unnecessary costs on households and companies, adding that Britain was not going to save the planet by putting ourselves out of business.

He was referring in particular to the Climate Change Act, famously passed by the House of Commons in October 2008 by 463 votes to three, even as the snow was falling outside. By the Government's own estimate, it would cost £404 billion to implement – £760 per household every year for four decades.

And now … in a magical feat of which Houdini would be proud, it is suddenly transformed into Labour's Climate Change Act.

"The real need", says former Tory chancellor Lord Lawson, "is not to have these absurd commitments and then have to run around bribing vulnerable businesses at taxpayers' expense so as to prevent them from closing down or leaving the country – it is to amend the [emissions] targets".

"We must make it quite clear that we are not going there if the rest of the world isn't", he adds. Although it looks part of the same quote, it is the Mail that then tells us: "Under Labour's Climate Change Act, the Government is legally bound to cut emissions 35 percent by 2022 and 50 percent by 2025".

There is something unutterably tacky about declaring this a "Labour" Act. Such is the grip of the paper's low-grade tribalism that it cannot even admit that all parties supported something that was a crock of horse manure.

We do, of course, welcome the Lawson's intervention, but why does the paper think we are so stupid that we don't remember that the Act was agreed by all sides of the House, not least by The Boy, with his commitment to leading the greenest government ever?