Friday, 26 September 2008

Conference, climate change and priorities

I duly addressed conference on melting polar ice caps and considering that it was the graveyard slot of 0915 on Sunday morning the turnout in the hall was admirable. I was one of those who put in a card in the debate on the Make it Happen document. I am one of the 16 reps who had proposed the amendment. I was not called = no surprise or complaint about that, but what I would have said, if called, was that the amendment should be passed because of the bit that most speakers ignored, except for Richard Grayson, mover of the amendment, and Duncan Brack. That was the bit that said that investment to combat climate change should have higher priority for the Lib Dems than tax cuts. As the party has spent the last few years insisting that a green thread ran through all our policies I am a bit puzzled that none of the Parliamentary big guns whom the leadership had lined up to zap the amendment mentioned the climate change bit, still less why they believed it was necessary to leave the leadership's hands untied with regard to the order of priorities on that. As for the chairing of the debate, I question whether the chair needed to weakly oblige the leadership by orchestrating a crescendo of the big guns as the debate approached the vote. (Incidentally, the gender imbalance was overwhelmingly towards male speakers because that imbalance is present in the Parliamentary party from which the big guns came. So no surprise there.) All in all, I conclude that the leadership won the vote but not the argument. As I write this, national treasure David Attenborough is talking on Radio 4's Today programme about a lecture he will give later today about the imperative of looking after the natural world and how the notion that homo sapiens can look after itself and let the rest of nature die out is really, really not on. Combating climate change is a lower priority than tax cuts? Come on, leadership, for goodness' sake get real.

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