Letter of the week

Right <em>and </em>right on

If the Tory party is to regain popularity, many people think it should adopt more liberal and less prescriptive policies ("Don't leave environment to Labour", 16 July). Yet, on the environment, Charles Clover, echoing the statist agenda of Friends of the Earth, rejects liberalism as "potty" and accuses me of setting the debate back 20 years by arguing otherwise.

I suggest to him that it is possible to be an environmentalist, and a good deal more popular than the big multinational green groups, without following the line they peddle: ultra-pessimism plus dirigisme. An environmental policy that trusts and empowers people would be more effective, more popular and (for what it's worth) more Tory.

Matt Ridley
Blagdon, Newcastle

This article first appeared in the 30 July 2001 issue of the New Statesman, So what tribe do you belong to?