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Pressure on Ed Miliband can help get a climate change deal

Posted on 28 August 2009 | 1:08pm

Bono and Bob Geldof, whom God preserve, are much more than your average celebrity campaigner. They don’t just care about their chosen issues, they know about them too, real genuine knowledge, and they know how to use the influence that their status and knowledge brings.

They have campaigned pretty tirelessly, and in many different ways, to make world leaders face up to their responsibility in helping the poorest countries of the world to help themselves. This Labour government can be very proud of its record on Africa, and Bono and Bob can be proud of the role they have played too.

Which brings me to Copenhagen, and the climate change summit which is now just 100 days away. Why? Because there will be many and varied campaigns taking shape between now and then, but ultimately it will only be though political leadership that significant decisions will be taken and then followed through.

What Bono and Bob have shown is that sometimes the role of the campaigner is to put pressure on the leaders, but in a spirit of partnership. And what leaders have often shown is that far from being a hindrance, that pressure can be a help. I remember before one summit, TB saying to them that he welcomed the pressure, because he could use it to persuade other leaders to move in our direction.

That same kind of alliance is possible in relation to Copenhagen. The British government wants a meaningful, significant deal. They have carved out a good position within a lot of the arguments taking place. But the more they can be seen to be speaking for campaigners for reduced greenhouse gas emissions, and public opinion more generally, the better.

So I am pleased to see Climate Change Secretary Ed Miliband positively encouraging views, feedback and pressure as the 100 day countdown begins, not least by inviting comments, arguments and suggestions to his new website,

I enjoyed the accusation of being like a stuck record yesterday, when I was banging on about Dave’s lack of meaningful policy on public services, other than a desire to run them down. At the risk of the record becoming stuck again, I ask you to contrast a Labour government taking the climate change issues seriously with a Tory leader who loves having his picture taken in designer arctic clothes with huskies, but stands up against the measures needed to address perhaps the most serious issue we face.

He and his party’s councils around the country seem to view wind farms not as an essential part of a new approach, but dismiss them as ‘bird-blenders.’ They oppose the Planning Act which would is designed to help pave the way for greater investment in low carbon energy. They want to scrap the Renewables Obligation. Their position on nuclear energy changes according to who they are speaking to.

And of course his European policy, and his jumping into bed with people who are in the climate change denial camp, would reduce Britain to the margins of a debate in which currently we have influence.

I know it is the done thing, when a pollster stops you in the street, to say the Tories have better policies on this, that and the other, even if people have no idea what those policies are. Hence last night’s ludicrous Newsnight poll purporting to say schools would have been better if the Tories had been in power. Yeah, we’d all get better educated with bigger classes, fewer teachers and bloody great holes in the roof.

The Tories do well in issues polls because nobody has a clue what their policies are. They have that in common with many senior Tories. But on climate change, their policies are bad, and dangerous, and people ought to know it.

  • Richard

    Well, thanks to Labour chucking all the cash at the inner cities and Labour strongholds and completely crucifying rural communities – is it to be unexpected that they turn round and say climate change is a natural process, nothing to do with man at all and therefore cash should be spent on defences, energy security and sustainable development rather than throwing housing projects in greenfield sites, that wind farms on our land is ridiculous, that you’ve forced our kids out of our communities under the banner of some spurious social engineering mentality that has given rise to the BNP and Scots nationalism, that you’ve spunked trillions of our cash against the wall to fund your sociopathic and disgusting wars and then have the audacity of shite to tell us how to run our own villages? Fuck you and get back to writing your porn or whatever the fuck it is you do in your spare time numbnuts. Just a suggestion – without prejeudice dontcha know. Other than that – yeah, smashing idea – pop me down as a maybe!

  • @jlocke13

    Well once again AC having a go at “dave”.. i wonder if you think the use if the diminutive somehow diminishes the leader of the opposition…it doesn’t, it just makes you look like a labour rebuttal unit stooge.. ok Ally.. Ed Milliband can jump on the climate change bandwagon but to no avail as he will not be in a position to do anything after the next election…. When will politicians realise that cloaking themselves in a green cloak does not fool the electorate, banging on about things by “2030” is easy, try solving some of the current problems like the way the government is about to take away money from the poorest in society by the proposed change in housing benefit…yes yet another labour back bench revolt looming….

  • Silver

    Sir Graham Bright’s peerage

    Look at Conservative Home for opposition and at Ermine for the Guvnor

  • Maria Gee

    Agree re Bono and Bob G. Celebs who get involved set themselves up for all sorts of stick but these two stay above by being so on top of the detail. Of course they can be a bit showbiz starry but I agree they have made a difference

  • Stuart Trent

    All well and good but regardless of whether people know what their policies are, the Tories are likely to get in because people have had it with Gordon. They just do not feel he can lead, on this or anything.

  • George Harris

    I think it will be virtually impossible to get a good deal. Just a few months in, Obama is weakened, and therefore will not have so much room to move. The Chinese and the Indians will call the shots and I worry what is agreed will fall far short of what the world needs

  • Peter Drummond

    You state “Yeah, we’d all get better educated with bigger classes, fewer teachers and bloody great holes in the roof.”

    There is a significant difference between fixing holes in the roof (a bad thing) with the relentless building and rebuilding of schools that just didn’t need it at inflated cost due to the pernicios PFI. Maybe is we would have smaller classes and more techers if this money had not been frittered away.

    One of my brothers attended a school where the teacher had to position a bucket under a hole in the roof. My parents still maintain that it was probably the best primary school that any of their six children attended.

  • Thomas Rossetti

    To: @jlocke13 I think Alastair Campbell referring to the Leader of the Opposition as “Dave” is reasonable considering this is the name by which he likes to be addressed. Maybe Cameron does like to be called “Dave”, but it strikes me as something of a cynical move, designed to make him appeal to working-class voters. (This is admittedly not something of great importance.)

    For the record, I usually disagree with Alastair Campbell and do so on this issue as well. The poor countries in Africa, whom Bono and Bob Geldof say they wish to help, are stymied by their leaders’ corrupt behaviour, not the lack of help from the West. When Robert Mugabe took over from Ian Smith in Zimbabwe, everyone said it was wonderful that an African country was being returned to an African man. Look what happened there.

    South Africa is now run by a very disreputable man, who seems totally indifferent to the suffering of his people. Africa’s problems are not only the West’s fault.

  • Charlie

    @AC:”I enjoyed the accusation of being like a stuck record yesterday, when I was banging on about Dave’s lack of meaningful policy on public services, other than a desire to run them down.”

    OK its your blog, most of which I enjoy greatly. But this sort of distortion should not go unremarked as is what many people find most objectionable.

    We are fed up with Labour’s total failure to enact the reforms necessary to ensure that us Voters obtained VALUE for our money during Labour’s 12 year overspending splurge (ooops…. investment).

    Someone has to get a grip on the purse strings. All these marvellous Socialist achievements have to be paid for somehow. We would like to try not to burden our children’s children with too much debt.

  • CPW

    If anyone reading this did just pass his GCSE in English he will have to forgive the writer his grammatical infelicities. He was educated under a Tory government, you understand, and one that famously tried to expunge the object pronoun whom from the language.

    It goes some way to mitigate such wonderful prose as ‘according to who they are speaking to’.

    The grammar’s bad, the sentiment cloying, and the thought risible.

  • Katharine T.

    The person who means the most in the world to me was shown in a group photo in the Guardian today as part of the climate change movement; that very cause was part of what destroyed us at the time of my visit with him during the G20 summit. I’m proud of his activism even if it meant we couldn’t be together anymore. As a shot at you Tory lovers who are choosing to complain here: My ex was educated in a shit part of London and graduated high school during the Labour years; not only is his command of the written English language better than 90% of yours, at least he’s doing something about a cause he believes in instead of whinging about it like the majority of people. Nothing makes me more sick than a bunch of numptys whinging online whilst sitting at their computers gorging on crisps and cheap wine. If you don’t like what the government is doing, no matter what it is; do something, don’t just sit there like a bloody lump with your gob permanently open like a freak show. Stop yapping and start doing.

  • Dick the Prick

    Oh, forgot – I bought yer book lad. Have a good weekend numbnuts.

  • Alan Quinn

    We want a deal but let the Vestas turbine factory close on the Isle of Wight. That site should have been bought by the government as a sign of our seriousness to tackle climate change and the workers reemployed.
    Vestas stated that the nimby culture (the IoW’s tory MP tried to stop a wind farm being built near him) of this country was amajor factor in their decision.
    What is needed is a panel that will sit and push through or object to all planning applications in months rather than years.
    That would show how serious we are.

  • salvinb

    Chelsea 3 Burnley 0