Disturbing but not at all surprising report in the FT of a survey of Tory candidates standing in the 240 most winnable of their target seats. Of the 144 PPCs who responded, “reducing Britain’s carbon footprint” was the lowest priority for them out of 19 policy options put before them.
Asked to rate each policy on a scale of one to five, where five was the most important to them personally, the candidates gave the climate change issue an average rating of 2.8, significantly below “more help for marriage”, 3.6, and “protecting the English countryside”, 3.57. They rated “cutting red tape” as second only to tackling the budget deficit in terms of priorities, suggesting resistance to environmental regulation.
Tim Montgomerie of Conservative Home is quoted as saying: ‘This is a hugely controversial issue for the Conservative party. There’s almost no support among centre-right think-tanks for all this climate change, so the party has got to be incredibly careful. I’m confident the sceptics are going to win. It’s for Cameron to decide how he’s going to get out of this – he’s lost the battle already.’
So is Cameron going to take a stand and try to whip his party into shape behind him? Or is he going to quietly let this one go? Judging from his near silence on green issues in recent months, even during Copenhagen week, it looks as if he's already given up the fight. (And that's being generous enough to assume that he was ever particularly passionate about the cause in the first place... Which I doubt.)