Since his election as Conservative Party leader, David Cameron has been trying to reposition his party in the centre ground of British politics.
One of his strategies has included placing a much greater emphasis on the environment and climate change. He has also cycled (occasionally) to the House of Commons, and replaced the Party’s Torch logo with an image of an Oak tree.
BBC Radio 4 recently aired a programme entitled ‘How did I get to be so green and blue’ which looks at the Conservative Party’s changing relationship to the environment.
The programme includes a number of contributions from E3G Founding Director Tom Burke, who was an advisor to three successive Environment Ministers under the last Conservative government.
Tom discusses the different ideological streams within the Conservative Party and Margaret Thatcher’s ‘conversion’ to environmental awareness in the 1980’s.
Tom also analyses the major structural change in British politics – the loss for all parties of a mass membership. He points out that this has implications for all political parties as they go about taking leadership decisions on environmental issues, stating
The idea that somehow the people of Britain can’t be informed about the real challenges that they face – aren’t themselves already informed and aren’t willing to follow a strong and clear lead about what needs to be done on these terms – just shows a huge lack of faith in the British people.
I think it’s more because the political parties have got so divorced, structurally, from the base of society that they’re unwilling to lead. And remember what political leadership does is expand the realm of the possible.
Politics is the art of the possible it’s true. Political leadership is the art of expanding the realm of the possible. This is an area that cries out for political leadership and it’s not getting it.”
The full transcript can be read online on the BBC website.