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Cameron backs Julia Gillard on carbon tax, embarrassing Australia's conservative opposition

By Tim Montgomerie
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British Toryism is out of step with Anglosphere conservatism in a number of key respects. Solidarity with Israel and a belief in the supply-side effects of lower taxation are two stand out examples. The biggest difference though is on climate change where conservatives in America, Canada and Australia are all opposed to unilateral* action on global warming that (i) accelerates deindustrialisation of the west but (ii) does so without reducing global emmisions, because it doesn't include the likes of fast growing China, India and Brazil.

Screen shot 2011-07-31 at 11.52.16 Australian conservatives have revived on the back of opposition to a carbon tax that the minority Labor Prime Minister promised not to introduce. Watch this video in which Julia Gillard said there would no carbon tax under any government she led. She lied and Australian voters are furious. Our sister partry in Australia - the Liberals - led by Tony Abbott has championed this fury. The graph on the right shows the boost that the issue has given him and his party (Liberals in blue).

Not surprisingly Tony Blair endorsed Ms Gillard on a visit downunder last week. More surprisingly David Cameron has done the same. In a letter to Ms Gillard that is making waves in the Australian media Mr Cameron has said that "your announcement sends a strong and clear signal that Australia is determined to make its contribution to addressing this challenge." "It will," Cameron continued, "add momentum to those, in both the developed and developing world, who are serious about dealing with this urgent threat."

Over at Dale and Company Shane Stone, former President of the Australian Liberal Party, is very unimpressed with Mr Cameron's intervention and puts Australia's unilateral action in international context:

"Australia accounts for 1.3% of carbon emissions, the UK 1.7%. The biggest polluters are China 23%, USA 18% and the sum total of the 27 EU members 14%. I don’t see any momentum in China or the USA apart from the rhetoric."

He summarises Abbott's reaction:

"Tony Abbott responded today and dismissed the endorsement, arguing Britain had de-industrialized and sent manufacturing jobs offshore. "It is interesting that the Labor Party (in Australia) now wants to engage in a bit of cultural cringe to the old country," he told reporters in Sydney. "I have great respect for Britain but I don't think everything that is done in Britain should necessarily be slavishly copied here in Australia. What's right for Britain is not necessarily right for Australia." I do however wonder what David Cameron was thinking when he penned the letter; no doubt Tony Abbott will be wondering the same. “Thanks a lot Dave”."

During the Tories' wilderness years the Australian Liberals under John Howard never forgot us. Howard spoke to the Tory Conference and his officers gave every support to our journey back to power. I don't expect Cameron to back Abbott but it might have been better if he'd kept silent.

* When I say British Conservatives I mean, of course, the Tory leadership. Tory MEPs have admirably rejected unilateral action.


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