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Vote Blue, Go Green, Go Bust. Coalition accused of anti-manufacturing energy policies.

By Tim Montgomerie
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With the Labour Party enduring another day of bad headlines (see this devastating editorial in The Telegraph) it appears that the Mail has decided that it needs to redouble its efforts to hold the government to account. The Mail along with the other members of the "quad" of centre right newspapers are already at odds with the Coalition on a range of issues - notably crime - but there are new signs that the cost of climate change policies could become a big new source of friction. Earlier this week the Mail splashed with estimates from the Global Warming Policy Foundation that climate change policies are adding £200 to the average household's energy bills. Today, in a leader, the newspaper describes this as "futile" and "foolish" politics:

"China (whose annual increase in emissions is greater than the UK’s total emissions),  India and the U.S. are all refusing to commit to significant reductions – rendering our own efforts as futile as they are foolish."


The newspaper gives space to an extended essay from Lord Lawson in which the former Chancellor describes the Coalition as presiding over "the most anti-manufacturing energy policy of any government in history". He writes:

"The plain fact is that the world relies on carbon-based energy simply because it is by far the cheapest available source of energy and is likely to remain so for the foreseeable future. The major developing countries, in particular, are understandably unwilling to hold back their development and condemn their people to avoidable poverty, by moving from relatively cheap energy to relatively expensive energy... It is curious, to say the least, that a government that came to power saying it wished to rebalance the economy to rely less on financial services and more on manufacturing should be determined to impose the most anti-manufacturing energy policy of any government in British history."

Read Lord Lawson's full piece in which he also identifies how green policies are most damaging to the poor.

Over at The Telegraph Charles Moore reaches the same conclusions as Nigel Lawson. The Coalition's expensive energy policies mean that Cameron's slogan should be " "Vote blue, go green, go bust", Moore writes. He continues:

"One of the policies of the Coalition, post-credit crunch, is "rebalancing the economic agenda". That means manufacturing recovery. But this country's energy-intensive industries (eg steel, glass, paper) calculate that energy taxes and targets have already added 21% to their energy bills (which often make up as much as half of their total production costs). By 2020, this will be 60%. Recently, the Tata steel plant in Scunthorpe announced its partial closure. Anglesey Aluminium, no longer powered by the old Magnox nuclear plant, has had to close its smelter. Far from rebalancing, government is piling heavier weights on one side of the scales."

My guess is that, outside of the Cameron circle, there is little support for action on global warming. ConservativeHome polling of the new generation of Tory candidates showed that reducing Britain's carbon footprint was their lowest priority. By margins of nearly eight-to-one Tory members say the cost of energy rather than combating climate change should be Cameron's priority. There is, as I noted earlier this week, an important strand of sensible environmentalism that Conservatives should champion but the expensive climate change policies of Chris Huhne should be abandoned as soon as possible. George Osborne is said to be on manoeuvres, considering how to dilute the Huhne plan. It is vital that the Chancellor succeeds.


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