I SEE that Tory MPs are under orders to be green again. It’s not always a good look for them.
Political parties are tainted by caricature, and for Conservatives the quick-brush summary goes like this: foxhunting, game-bird shooting, badger-baiting, fracking-loving types who think the environment is where they go for the weekend, with a nice pub for a pint or a G&T to relax after a spot of recreational destruction.
Whispers of Tories turning green have been circulating for a while now. The latest rumour finds its way onto the front page of today’s i-newspaper under the headline: “Tories go green to win back voters.”
Conservative MPs are being summoned to Downing Street, according to the paper, and told to focus on the environment to broaden the party’s appeal.
Mrs Maybe has apparently spotted that her promise to repeal the foxhunting bill didn’t go down well, particularly with younger voters, at her “strong-and-stable-I’ll-bash-this-easily” election.
Ah, Theresa, the bad penny has finally dropped. You’ve noticed the general distaste at the thought of dogs ripping foxes apart, while watched by a pack of men whose red faces match their coats.
Now I’ll come clean here. Yes, I have indulged in a spot of cliché-waving. But the thing about clichés is that they are born for a reason. Plenty of the MPs being summoned to Downing Street for a ticking off about the environment will have foxhunting sympathies. And maybe they’ll think the environment is fine so long as it doesn’t harm the balance sheet. Oh, and global warming is jolly serious, but have you seen the snow in the Cotswolds?
David Cameron went green for a while, sticking a mini wind turbine on the roof of one of his houses. Oh, and changing his party’s logo to a nice drawing of a tree. He visited some huskies in the Arctic in 2006 and hugged one for a photo opportunity.
There isn’t space here for an audit of his actual greenness. But as leader of the opposition, and husky fan, he said: “Climate change is one of the biggest threats facing the world and we must have a greater sense of urgency about tackling it.” Ten years later, he reportedly told aides to “get rid of all the green crap” on energy bills. I’ll leave you to colour that one in.
Mrs Maybe has also tasked environment secretary Michael Gove with enshrining the principle in UK law, post Brexit, that animals can feel pain and suffering. This is a good and important measure, if it happens.
People being green, politicians thinking green – all of that is for the good. I’m happy to welcome any shade of green the Tories decide to try on. But the trouble, as Kermit the frog could have told them, is that it’s not easy being green.
Parties other than the Greens tend to take a pick-and-mix approach to being green. If the Tories are going green again, will they now turn against fracking – a destructive form of energy extraction hated by all shades of green?
Being green, as much as this environmentally mixed-up this-and-that person can see, is about the whole picture. Everything to do with the environment is connected. To be green you need to use joined-up thinking. Turning a shade greener because you’ve noticed that younger voters don’t like you doesn’t really cut it.
And here is a tragic irony for our times. If other parties wish to be green, how come the actual Greens win so few votes? Green politics often strike me as sensible and the only way ahead. Yet I have voted Green precisely once, and that’s because I was pissed off with Labour for some reason or other.
What would the world be like if we all voted Green? A lot safer and more pleasant, but it’s unlikely ever to happen.