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“We need a strong political leader with integrity who does what’s right and not what’s easy, regardless of their political affiliation”

EAV Executive Chairman Nigel Gordon-Stewart questions the UK government’s apparent reversal on green policies given the island's status as a leading light in decarbonisation technology developments worldwide.

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Author: Nigel Gordon-Stewart, Executive Chairman, EAV

The events of the last few weeks have left me both deeply confused by the machinations of our political elite and, at the same time, bitter and angry that I, and millions like me, must be considered so idiotic as to view the latest crass Westminster behaviour as acceptable in a modern civilised society.

I’m talking about the new Chameleon Conservative Party and its current rather uncharismatic leader.  Changing its colours to suit whatever rock it precariously finds itself perched on, the Uxbridge and South Ruislip by-election seems to have switched on all the brilliant idea light bulbs in Downing Street.  Consequently, they’ve now veered off in a direction which, from my perspective, is probably the most bonkers I’ve ever seen as well as being blatant and appalling electioneering of the worst and most desperate kind.

I’m a Tory voter, albeit a remainer Tory.  I’ve actually been a life-long Tory voter, but no more.  I simply don’t know where this party stands on probably THE most important issue to affect my generation and, with regret, many generations to come, the environment. 

I know people don’t want to change. I know that we have things in our lives and lifestyles which we regard as our basic right, and that facing up to losing those things is an affront to what we’ve all been raised to expect in life.  But there comes a point when the evidence is overwhelming, when the data cannot be rationally challenged, when the smoke tries to clear and the outcome is clearly just inevitable.  When that happens, only the most stubborn and misguided would refuse to change.  What Rishi Sunak and his Downing Street think tank have done is to have identified the stubborn protest vote from one, high profile constituency by-election, and are now adding the misguiding part in an attempt to secure an election victory against an opposition who were streets ahead in the polls.  Welcome to wedge politics.

Electioneering with the environmental agenda is the very worst kind of politics.  In a world where convenience and complacency has to be overcome with strong, brave and committed environmental leadership, any flip-flopping on the issues of climate change and air pollution are very dangerous issues to play with.  And yet play with them they are.  In an extraordinary new initiative, the Conservative party and the Prime Minister are now the ‘motorist’s friend’.  The caring Tories don’t want the British public to not be able to do ‘the things that matter to them’ as the vast majority ‘use their cars to get around and are dependent on their cars’. LTNs are to be reviewed and the ULEZ (Ultra Low Emission Zone) extension in London is being reconsidered with the Tory Mayoral candidate stating that she’ll rescind any extension if elected.  The introduction of the 20 mph speed limit in London and many other cities and residential areas is also to be reviewed by our new ‘motorist’s best mate’. ‘20’s Plenty’ has saved a lot of lives, reduced congestion, saved money and promoted cycling and walking, so it’s not a good thing? Then, literally within days, Sunak and the Chameleon Party decide to ‘max out’ the sale of oil and gas production licences for the North Sea, swelling the coffers of the Treasury immeasurably flying both directly in the face of all environmental advice, and also up and down to Scotland by helicopter.  Apparently, this is oil and gas mainly for export and not for energy security which was originally suggested.  But, ignoring the multiple confusing messages, it also means lots more petrol and diesel for all those new best mates of the PM who want to drive past schools at 30 mph because it ‘matters to them’.

I’d understand all of this if there wasn’t a solution to fossil fuels pollution and urban traffic congestion in sight. If electric vehicles were still very much on the drawing board and no one had even coined the term ‘micromobility’. But all these things are very much a reality, and the UK is one of the leading lights in decarbonisation technology developments worldwide, both in software and hardware. I know this because I work for one. We have solutions right now that would change the world for the better and help stem climate change and improve the quality of living for everyone in a town or city centre, including businesses.  We don’t need fossil fuels and we don’t need Rishi Sunak to be our friend. We need a strong political leader with integrity who does what’s right and not what’s easy, regardless of their political affiliation.

So, I have no idea what the point of the Tory party is anymore. Any political party that could so easily shed its principles for the sake of an utterly self-serving ‘win at any costs’ objective are, by definition, untrustworthy. Their policies may now resonate with many of those whose interest in climate issues and the environment is not as important as the football scores, but they are playing with the lives of children in towns and cities and the future of the planet for those children who don’t grow up with chronic health issues. It’s actually shameful and embarrassing. Once upon a time, if you gave someone your word, you were judged by your ability to deliver honourably and dutifully.  None more so than a Prime Minister’s promises to a Nation, that they would focus on climate change and strive to help save the planet.  How times have changed.

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