The Tories haven't gone green

Tackling climate change is the lowest priority for Tory candidates

David Cameron may have used the slogan "Vote blue, go green" in the past but, judging by the views of his party's candidates, it's one he'd be wise not to repeat at the election.

A new survey of 141 Tory candidates in the party's most winnable seats by ConservativeHome and ConservativeIntelligence has found that reducing Britain's carbon footprint is their lowest political priority (see chart). Just eight of the party's candidates said it would be a top priority for them in the next parliament.

If Cameron can't persuade his own party that the environment should be a priority, he's unlikely to persuade the electorate that it should be. And if this is the state of affairs under an ostensibly green leader, just where would Tory opinion lie under a climate-change sceptic such as David Davis?

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But the truth is that Cameron's own interest in the environment has diminished visibly in recent times. His green credentials were discredited by his decision to court Václav Klaus, the climate-change-denying Czech president. He has refused to advocate the levels of taxation and regulation needed to reduce environmentally damaging behaviour.

The Conservative Party seems increasingly to have assumed that Cameron's initial focus on the environment was merely part of his early mission to ''detoxify" the Tory brand. He has said little since to disprove this assumption.

It is now clearer than ever that no environmentally responsible individual can risk a vote for the Tories at the election.

 

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George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.

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Labour slumps to fourth place in North Hykeham and Sleaford by-election

Conservative candidate Caroline Johnson eased to victory as Labour tumbled from second to fourth place.

Caroline Johnson was elected as the Conservative MP for Sleaford and North Hykeham, while Labour slumped from second to fourth behind Ukip and the Liberal Democrats, who finished second and third respectively. The by-election was triggered by the resignation of Stephen Philips.

The seat, which has been safely Conservative since its creation, backed Brexit by a 20-point margin on 23 June. The Tory victory, with 53.5 per cent of the vote, is one of the party’s all-time best by-election performances while in government. 

Johnson won with 17,570 votes. In second was Ukip's Victoria Ayling, with 4,426 votes. Ross Pepper recieved 3,606 votes, while Labour's Jim Clarke got 3,363 votes.

Stephen Bush is special correspondent at the New Statesman. His daily briefing, Morning Call, provides a quick and essential guide to British politics.