By Tim Montgomerie
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In the first part of this series on Building A Majority I advocated recruiting more northern Tory candidates. Yesterday I recommended replacing the Barnett formula with a nationwide social justice fund. Today, windfarms.
(3) NO MORE SUBSIDIES FOR WINDFARMS
Two weeks ago more than 100 Tory MPs wrote to the Prime Minister calling for a cut in the subsidy of windfarms. Chris Heaton-Harris implied that many more Tories would have signed the letter if he had had more time to gather names. PPSs and Ministers were, of course, forbidden from signing the letter but the presence of normally uber-loyal backbenchers like Matt Hancock and Nadhim Zahawi on the list of signatures proved that the letter writers were speaking for large parts of the Tory frontbench. The best single piece I've read against windfarms was written by Chris Pincher MP for ConHome. Wind farms are expensive, unreliable, damage local environments and subsidise foreign industry, he wrote. That pretty well sums up the craziness of the policy perfectly.
Crucial to Tory success at the next election is a breakthrough with the striving classes – the people who are struggling to make ends meet. They can't afford to pay higher energy prices for no good reason. Perhaps if higher energy prices were our contribution to a global carbon emmissions deal then it would be at least arguable that it was a worthwhile sacrifice. But with China, India and other fast-growing economies increasing their carbon footprint there is no good reason for (a) the British pensioner to be worried about heating her home or (b) the Midlands manufacturer to be considering relocating abroad in search of a jurisdiction with more sensible energy policies.
Breaking with the cross-party consensus on climate change would put Cameron on the side of families and manufacturers. Perhaps free from the obsession with change-the-world environmentalism we could also be freed up as a party to focus on a more practical, local environmentalism. Conservatives should, of course, be conservationists but our focus should be on cleaner rivers, planting trees and protecting habitats of outstanding beauty. Yes, we should invest in clean technologies that will help the global environment but we shouldn't be spending money on imported and immature windfarm technologies.