David Cameron's press conference -- live blog

Minute-by-minute coverage of the Tory leader's monthly press conference

9:28am: David Cameron is holding his monthly press conference at 9:45am today. Cameron is likely to be questioned about the "broken society" speech he delivered on Friday, which has come under attack in the FT and elsewhere today.

Follow The Staggers for live coverage from 9:45.

9:45am Cameron begins by discussing the "broken society". He says his speech on Friday wasn't an attack on "any one party or government". But he adds that Labour's response shows how "little they have to offer" on this issue. The government should allow the full case report into the Edlington case to be published.

9:47am Now we're on to the economy. Cameron claims "Labour's debt crisis" is the biggest threat to economic recovery.

9:50am Cameron discusses how the Tory party has "changed". He says black and minority candidates now make up almost 10 per cent of Tory candidates and says that he expects to treble the number of female Tory MPs.

9:51am The BBC's James Lansdale asks Cameron to outline the nature of Tory discussions with the Democratic Unionist Party and the Ulster Unionist Party. Cameron says his aim is to see devolution completed -- "that comes before everything else".

9:54am Nick Robinson asks Cameron to confirm if he will cut public spending and raise taxes by tens of billions of pounds. Cameron says the risks of not cutting the Budget deficit outweigh the risks of cutting it.

He calls on the government to admit that it needs to begin cutting the deficit in 2010. Labour needs to put away its "pathetic dividing lines" and "moral cowardice", he says.

9:56am Cameron is asked to provide details of his party's policy on marriage. He says "the message is more important than the money".

9:58am After Bob Ainsworth unwittingly revealed 6 May as the election date, Cameron is asked if he would end the right of the Prime Minister to call an early election. He says he is attracted by fixed-term parliaments but he fears they would allow a "weak minority government" to remain in power.

10:01am Channel 4's Gary Gibbon asks Cameron if he gives the government any credit for keeping unemployment lower than in previous recessions. Cameron replies by saying that "we have record levels of youth unemployment". The government's strategy has been "staggeringly unsuccessful", he says.

10:05am Adam Boulton of Sky News presses Cameron for a full answer to Robinson's question on spending cuts. Cameron says the key is "early action", not the amount. Is he suggesting that the Tories would cut earlier, but not more, than Labour?

10:08am ConservativeHome's Tim Montgomerie urges Cameron to reconsider his decision not to join Twitter. He points out that while Downing Street and Sarah Brown have over a million followers, the most popular Conservative, Boris Johnson, has only 60,000. The Tory leader says he'll think again, but argues that politicians talk too much already.

10:16am Peter Hitchens asks Cameron for his opinion on politicians who "ostentatiously support" comprehensive education but send their children to faith schools (as David Miliband has done). Cameron says he rejects the premise of the question, pointing out that faith schools lie within the state sector.

10:19am Cameron is asked for his thoughts on Barack Obama's banking reform plan. He says the plan is a "positive step forward" and says that the US president has raised the important issue of how we deal with the "moral hazard" of banks that now believe they are "too big to fail".

10:22am The final question comes from the FT's Jean Eaglesham. Cameron is asked if he is still considering all-women shortlists for Westminster constituencies. He says they "absoutely remain an option" if more Tory MPs resign before the election. That's likely to anger the right of his party.

 

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George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.

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The rise of the green mayor – Sadiq Khan and the politics of clean energy

At an event at Tate Modern, Sadiq Khan pledged to clean up London's act.

On Thursday night, deep in the bowls of Tate Modern’s turbine hall, London Mayor Sadiq Khan renewed his promise to make the capital a world leader in clean energy and air. Yet his focus was as much on people as power plants – in particular, the need for local authorities to lead where central governments will not.

Khan was there to introduce the screening of a new documentary, From the Ashes, about the demise of the American coal industry. As he noted, Britain continues to battle against the legacy of fossil fuels: “In London today we burn very little coal but we are facing new air pollution challenges brought about for different reasons." 

At a time when the world's leaders are struggling to keep international agreements on climate change afloat, what can mayors do? Khan has pledged to buy only hybrid and zero-emissions buses from next year, and is working towards London becoming a zero carbon city.

Khan has, of course, also gained heroic status for being a bête noire of climate-change-denier-in-chief Donald Trump. On the US president's withdrawal from the Paris Agreement, Khan quipped: “If only he had withdrawn from Twitter.” He had more favourable things to say about the former mayor of New York and climate change activist Michael Bloomberg, who Khan said hailed from “the second greatest city in the world.”

Yet behind his humour was a serious point. Local authorities are having to pick up where both countries' central governments are leaving a void – in improving our air and supporting renewable technology and jobs. Most concerning of all, perhaps, is the way that interest groups representing business are slashing away at the regulations which protect public health, and claiming it as a virtue.

In the UK, documents leaked to Greenpeace’s energy desk show that a government-backed initiative considered proposals for reducing EU rules on fire-safety on the very day of the Grenfell Tower fire. The director of this Red Tape Initiative, Nick Tyrone, told the Guardian that these proposals were rejected. Yet government attempts to water down other EU regulations, such as the energy efficiency directive, still stand.

In America, this blame-game is even more highly charged. Republicans have sworn to replace what they describe as Obama’s “war on coal” with a war on regulation. “I am taking historic steps to lift the restrictions on American energy, to reverse government intrusion, and to cancel job-killing regulations,” Trump announced in March. While he has vowed “to promote clean air and clear water,” he has almost simultaneously signed an order to unravel the Clean Water Rule.

This rhetoric is hurting the very people it claims to protect: miners. From the Ashes shows the many ways that the industry harms wider public health, from water contamination, to air pollution. It also makes a strong case that the American coal industry is in terminal decline, regardless of possibile interventions from government or carbon capture.

Charities like Bloomberg can only do so much to pick up the pieces. The foundation, which helped fund the film, now not only helps support job training programs in coal communities after the Trump administration pulled their funding, but in recent weeks it also promised $15m to UN efforts to tackle climate change – again to help cover Trump's withdrawal from Paris Agreement. “I'm a bit worried about how many cards we're going to have to keep adding to the end of the film”, joked Antha Williams, a Bloomberg representative at the screening, with gallows humour.

Hope also lies with local governments and mayors. The publication of the mayor’s own environment strategy is coming “soon”. Speaking in panel discussion after the film, his deputy mayor for environment and energy, Shirley Rodrigues, described the move to a cleaner future as "an inevitable transition".

Confronting the troubled legacies of our fossil fuel past will not be easy. "We have our own experiences here of our coal mining communities being devastated by the closure of their mines," said Khan. But clean air begins with clean politics; maintaining old ways at the price of health is not one any government must pay. 

'From The Ashes' will premiere on National Geograhpic in the United Kingdom at 9pm on Tuesday, June 27th.

India Bourke is an environment writer and editorial assistant at the New Statesman.

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