Last summer, the Government considered placing the NHS at the heart of the election campaign. Since then, investment vs cuts, inheritance tax and class have dominated the debate over Labour’s electoral strategy.
Now, it appears families may be central to the campaign due to Cameron’s impressive triple U-turn on marriage in the tax system. But regardless of what happens next, the likelihood is that climate change won’t get a mention.
This would be wrong for two reasons. First, the obvious matter that climate change poses the largest threat we face – claiming the lives of an estimated 300,000 annually already, a figure that will only get worse. And secondly, because it is not comfortable ground for Conservatives.
Labour have pledged to reduce emissions by 80% by 2050 and this Labour Government has been the first Government in this country to take climate change seriously and shift to a more sustainable and responsible stance. Gordon Brown and Ed Miliband led in Copenhagen, aiming tirelessly for the fairest and most ambitious outcome possible.
But the next swathe of Conservative MPs rate climate change lowest on their list of priorities. Many Conservatives are still doubtful about the evidence of man-made climate change, despite wide consensus in the scientific community. Cameron won’t come close to meaningful leadership on climate change, due to the backlash he could face within his Party as a result.
We need to be exposing this as one of the many dangers a Tory Government would bring, and by making climate change a battleground at the general election – no matter what the outcome – we will be strengthening the importance of the issue in our politics, a worthwhile cause in itself.
The notion that people don’t vote on climate change will, I believe, prove to be totally unfounded. A rising support for the Green Party suggests its increasing importance amongst certain parts of the electorate. Given the two horse nature of our political system, one party must have the principal and the courage to take the initiative and place the environment at the heart of its campaign.
Let it be Labour.