You know what? There was a time – perhaps as recently as six or twelve months ago – when I would have been seriously heartened by the news of Cameron’s latest mini reshuffle. I’m a massive fan of the tough, free-market-minded Michael Fallon. Appointing him as the minister at the Department of Energy and Climate Change is a bit like sending in King Herod to shake up the Judaean Child Services Unit. But it’s a symbolic gesture, nothing more. Fallon’s predecessor in the job – John Hayes – was just as old school Tory, just as much a conviction politician, just as opposed to the insanity of wind – and look where it got him: absolutely nowhere.
While DECC’s departmental boss Ed Davey may not be quite as sinister a machiavel as his predecessor Chris Huhne (whatever did become of my old mate Huhney by the way? He has been curiously absent from the Westminster scene of late), he has certainly got DECC stitched up. What Fallon will find – as Owen Paterson has found at DEFRA and Hayes definitely found at DECC – is that it’s very hard to push forward robustly Tory policies when your entire department consists of green ideologues and where even your own press office briefs against you. On day one of his job, Hayes had planned to announce a moratorium on onshore wind farm building – which would have been a hugely popular gesture in the Tory-voting shires. Unfortunately, just before he delivered it he was rumbled by DECC’s spies and Davey ordered him to water it down, while insisting there were no plans to halt the growth of onshore wind. By the end of his six months at DECC, Hayes was so enfeebled that he’d almost gone native: even to the point of finding himself on the wrong side of an argument – with David King, of all people – on biofuels. Amazingly, despite copious evidence to the contrary, Hayes could be heard declaring on Radio 4 that they were a good thing.
So you see now why I’m not as impressed as I might be by the tiny slivers of red meat Cameron has just tossed to us True Conservatives. It’s not enough to feed us; just enough to make us more tormented and ravenous. Which is why, as I explain in this week’s Spectator, I have completely abandoned every last vestige of faith I had in the current Tory party to do anything useful or sensible, and why I’m throwing my lot in with the one party out there with genuine political principle – UKIP.
- Five reasons why the Conservatives deserve to lose the next election
- In praise of Lord Tebbit
- Arguments for wind power are just hot air
- Tory sleaze is worse than ever: Yeo and Deben must go!