“We want five green laws for a green Britain,” an interview with Energy and Climate Change Secretary Ed Davey MP (Part Two)

July 25, 2014 § Leave a comment

DECC Secretary Ed Davey MP talking to me and other bloggers at the Social Liberal Forum Conference last weekend.

DECC Secretary Ed Davey MP talking to me and other bloggers at the Social Liberal Forum Conference last weekend.

The Liberal Democrats clearly have a mountain to climb when it comes to next year’s General Election but one area where we do have a broadly positive tale to tell is that of the green agenda, but how well does that play with voters and what can we do-as activists and elected representatives-to help trumpet our message to the masses…I asked the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, the Right Honourable Ed Davey MP, when I sat down with him as part of the Bloggers’ Interviews at the Social Liberal Forum Conference in London last weekend.

“I think we have to pick two or three things from what we’ve achieved and we have to have two or three measures for the future.”

“We can’t just talk about what we’ve achieved we have to have a vision for the future and vice-versa.”

“I think I would, probably ’cause I think because polls show that it’s popular, is wanting to talk about renewable electricity…cause we have a very, very good story to tell on that and, you know, people do like the idea of renewable electricity; people like on-shore wind, believe it or not; I think the Tories are wrong on that.

So, I would really talk about that, as a key achievement.

“There are quite a few others that mean a lot to people; part of the problem is some of the things we are doing are quite long-term, so although we’ve got the largest railway investment programme since the Victorians not many people have seen it because it’s going to happen over the next fifteen years.

So if you want to talk about records you’re going to want to talk about things that have actually been achieved. 

So, after renewable electricity, which is now powerful and clear, we could talk about energy…we can say a million homes will have been insulated by the election.

I like to think if we can say we’ve brought the Climate Change Act through the rest of Europe, through this European deal, I think that would be quite a popular thing.

“You can talk about the Green Investment Bank, you can talk about what we’ve done on electric vehicles, but we need to be clear what we think will resonate most with the electorate.

Green jobs I think is a good thing but I think, people know renewable energy is somehow green, they understand that, you’ve got to think about what people hear, and we’ve done some polling on green jobs and they don’t quite get what a green job is. 

“So, you’ve got to use language and use examples which people readily and immediately get, not the policy wonks in the Liberal Democrats…I might be one of those but I’ve got to talk to the electorate and, you know, we haven’t got much air-time so we need to pick on one or two things.”

Mr Davey then moved on to talk about the next set of challenges…and a big green liberal vision for the next Government. 

“In terms of the future, the party’s got to have a debate about what it wants to do.

Again it’s about communicating. I think we should say at the next election we want five green laws for a green Britain; and those five green laws should be on nature, transport, waste, on energy efficiency and on de-carbonisation. 

I think we need to show that we’ve got an agenda to really go forward.”

A bold vision for sure and one which, if communicated well, could win us back some of the much needed support that we’ve lost over the past four years.

ON SUNDAY: My interview with Party President Tim Farron MP! 

 

“Many British businesses have woken up to Climate Change,” an interview with Energy and Climate Change Secretary Ed Davey MP (Part One)

July 24, 2014 § Leave a comment

Me and other bloggers with DECC Secretary and Climate Change, Ed Davey MP.

Me and other bloggers with DECC Secretary Ed Davey MP.

Ed Davey has one of the toughest jobs in this Government.

Trying to convince right-wing Tories to go with him-and vote with him-in the need urgently to tackle the deeply worrying and increasingly imminent threat of man-made Climate Change.

I’m one of those who believes David Cameron was, whilst you could argue rightly ambitious, creating a huge hostage to fortune when he said the Coalition would be ‘the greenest government ever,’ especially given the outright hostility to green issues showed by many of his colleagues in the Conservatives.

But Ed Davey has been quietly beavering away and achieving substantial progress, albeit with much more to do.

At last Saturday’s Social Liberal Forum Conference in London, I and three other bloggers sat down with the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change.

I asked Mr Davey his view on the Australian Tory Government’s recent vote to dump the Carbon Tax which had been introduced by the previous Labour premier Julia Gillard.

“Extremely disappointing, but expected. To be fair to the Australian Government they stood on a mandate for this, one can’t say that they have misled the Australian people; they were very, very clear and, therefore, they have a mandate to do that.

I don’t for a minute gainsay that. But I’m very disappointed that a country as important, as a close ally of Britain’s, as Australia, with so many things we agree with them, they have decided to take this decision which, I think, are not in the interest of Australians’ long term.

Because Australia’s been hit very much by Climate Change and I would have thought they would…the very progressive policy they had under the last Government, one would have hoped that would have continued.”

I then put to him that maybe the reason why many Australians appeared to be rather sceptical about the Carbon Tax was the way it had been introduced.

Julia Gillard had said before the election, “there’ll be no Carbon Tax under a Government I lead” and then did exactly that after the election.

Though, to be fair, it was a hung Parliament and I believe the introduction of the Carbon Tax was a condition of the House of Representatives’ sole Green MP supporting the then Labour Government.

“You’re absolutely right and that is one of the reasons why I go back to what I say he (Tony Abbott) had a mandate and so one has to respect a democratic Government’s mandate, even when you disagree with it.

But there’s no point me saying that I agree with it, because I clearly don’t.”

The argument given by the new Australian Government for dumping the Carbon Tax is that it holds business back, however-certainly in terms of a British context-Ed Davey disagrees.

“Many British businesses have woken up to Climate Change as a threat to their commercial future and the interests of their shareholders and I’m proud that the CBI in Britain has been a champion of green growth; they published a document talking about ‘the Colour of growth is green’ and we have a lot of very progressive corporates and it is worth putting that on the record, because actually I think British business, most British business, does not get the credit that it deserves and if you go to other countries, whether it’s the United States, Australia or indeed some of the European countries those Governments don’t have the support of the commercial sector.

And, actually, it’s also including the City, dare I say, because insurers know what’s happening in the World with weather patterns, they know the effect that has on insurance (premiums.)

So, high capitalists and high corporates are realising that they’ve got to take Climate Change seriously and it’s one of the reasons I’m more optomistic about whether we’re going to be successful on Climate Change because there are at least some companies and some financial institutions who are really getting this issue.”

Positive news, for sure!

TOMORROW: I talk to Ed Davey about how Lib Dems can best trumpet our green achievements at next year’s General Election!

 

 

 

2013 has been a blast…here’s to 2014!

December 31, 2013 § Leave a comment

Me at Lib Dem Conference, in Glasgow, in September.

Me at Lib Dem Conference, in Glasgow, in September.

Well, what a year eh?

So much has happened that it’s literally impossible to try and cover it all here, so instead I’m going to pinpoint a few highlights.

First of all it’s remained (and remains) the greatest honour of my professional life to represent the good people of Barwell as their Councillor; in March, as the Barwell representative on HBBC’s Planning Committee, I was proud to successfully propose an important new development for my village, which will bring in almost £40million of inward investment…including vitally needed new infrastructure!

I was also proud to vote, along with colleagues, for thousands of new jobs coming into the Borough and-after years of people talking about it but not delivering-to vote for a new Bus Station development in Hinckley.

A Lib Dem administration delivering for the people of Hinckley and Bosworth!

I’m also proud of our Lib Dem-run Parish Council in Barwell and, especially, our newest Councillor-elected in a by-election in February-Charlotte Green who, I think, is going to have a very bright future in our Party.

Meanwhile, in 2013, I’ve traveled up and down the Country with the Lib Dems, from Manchester, to Brighton, Birmingham, to Glasgow; all in the name of spreading the good name of Liberal Democracy.

Autumn Federal Conference, in Glasgow, in September, was a particular highlight…making my Conference floor debut, asking a question to the Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg (about free transport for young people, since you asked) and also appearing on a number of national news/politics programmes: BBC Parliament, 5 News, The Daily Politics, and a live edition of Newsnight.

Earlier this year I also appeared on The Big Questions and, recently, on the East Midlands opt-out of The Sunday Politics.

In the run-up to Conference I was exceptionally honoured to be shortlisted for the Lib Dem Voice website’s Lib Dem Councillor of the Year.

Although the title itself went to someone else, even to be shortlisted was wonderful and very affirming that all my hard work is appreciated.

I’ve also been fortunate to be able to indulge another passion…writing.

I’ve written for, among others, The Guardian, the New Statesman’s Staggers blog, and PinkNews-Europe’s Largest Gay News Service.

I’m proud to be part of a number of organisations which do tremendous work and was honoured, earlier this year, to become a Director of Republic-The Campaign for an Elected Head of State, whilst continuing as a Council Member of the Social Liberal Forum, a pressure group within the Liberal Democrats.

Locally, I’m so very proud of the work we’ve achieved on moving forward with ensuring we provide the best service we can for the LGBT community in Hinckley and Bosworth.

Proud Generation (part of Next Generation, of whom I’m a Management Committee member) continued its locally groundbreaking work as the Borough’s first LGBT Advocacy and Advice service.

Meanwhile I also created a little bit of history, bringing the first LGBT item to my Council’s Scrutiny Commission…and making a speech talking about my experience of Coming Out a couple of years ago.

I was also proud this year to become Coordinator of Lib Dems For A Republic and Cofounding, with my lovely mate Matt Whittles, Fairtrade Future, the Fairtrade movement within the Liberal Democrats.

Also, there’s far too many highlights to mention, over the past year, in my HBBC roles of Children and Young People’s Champion and Fairtrade Champion.

Outside of politics, I’ve loved all the things I’ve been able to do locally…including Co-Chair Barwell Carnival with the fantastic Alison Poxon, and helping to organise/compere a number of events, including ‘Brass On The Grass’ and ‘Barwell Schools Sing Christmas,’ as well as being part of two shows directed by the fabulous and lovely Jenni Hunt.

Another joy was being able to meet and work with Love Hinckley, a group set up to help promote local Small and Medium Sized businesses…here’s to the two ladies behind it, Cathy Phayres and Clare Farrell.

In work, it’s remained an honour to be a member of staff at local charity, The George Ward Centre.

And finally, but most importantly of all, I couldn’t do any of this without the love and support-and occasional much needed guidance-of my family and friends.

You mean more to me than I can say!

So, that was 2013…here’s to an even busier and more fantastic 2014!

Cheers!

Mathew.

“Discrimination and prejudice are wrong in all their forms”-my speech on LGBT rights to HBBC Scrutiny Commission

November 22, 2013 § Leave a comment

The following is the speech I gave at last night’s meeting of Scrutiny Commission at Hinckley and Bosworth Borough Council at the Hinckley Hub; in an item on Support and Provision for the LGBT Community in Hinckley and Bosworth (which I’d asked be looked at by Scrutiny; as far as I know the first item of its kind at the Council):

“Thank you, Mr Chairman.
I’m pleased that this item is before us, following my requesting it be brought before Scrutiny earlier this year.
Nationwide this has been an amazing year for advancing equality-with Equal Marriage for Same Sex couples in England and Wales becoming law and, after yesterday’s vote, it’s well on the way to becoming law in Scotland too.
I hope, in the fullness of time, Northern Ireland will also follow suit.
But in local communities-including here in Hinckley and Bosworth-there is still more to do for there to be true equality and understanding among different sections of the community.
I pay tribute to the fantastic work of Proud Generation, which I’ve seen first hand as a Management Committee member of Next Generation.
Shani and Rebecca and their small team have done a fantastic job in delivering the first Borough-wide LGBT Advocacy and Advice Service, a real breakthrough for Hinckley and Bosworth; and I was proud to be in attendance at a number of the events listed in the report.
Each of them a first in the Borough-including yesterday’s Transgender Day of Remembrance Service at St Mary’s Church in the town, which sadly I couldn’t attend due to work commitments but at which I know the Borough Council was represented.
I wish a group like Proud Generation had been in the borough when I was growing up.
I’m sure, if it had, I wouldn’t have waited sixteen years before Coming Out.
It is the fear of how people will react, of facing potential discrimination; especially as a young person when growing up can be hard enough as it is.
And having people who’ve been through it all before and can provide help, support and reassurance is a real help.
That is why, in my view, we must ensure that Proud Generation’s work is able to continue, including-dare I say it-by providing financial assistance.
It would be a real tragedy if, this important work having been started, it had to stop due to a lack of resources.
In my own small way I hope to be a voice for the LGBT Community on this Council and have, in some small ways, including by getting the Stonewall youth survey linked to on the HBBC website and, indeed, getting this item brought before Scrutiny, attempted to help move things forward.
Discrimination and prejudice are wrong in all their forms and we need to do all we can-on this authority and partner agencies-to spread understanding, justice and peace.”

‘Now, surely, the only way is up,’ my first piece for ‘The Noticeboard Daily’

May 4, 2012 § Leave a comment

The following piece (published today), my first for excellent new website ‘The Noticeboard Daily, sets out my thoughts about last night’s local election results for the Liberal Democrats and how there is hope among the rather disappointing results:

http://noticeboardblog.squarespace.com/politics/2012/5/4/there-is-hope-in-these-liberal-democrat-results.html

Lib Dems must punch above our weight…but beware a knock-out blow!

April 8, 2012 § Leave a comment

Canadian Liberal MP Justin Trudeau celebrates after winning a charity boxing match

I wonder if you, like me, follow Canadian politics and, especially, the fortunes of The Liberal Party of Canada?

If you don’t then you probably won’t be aware that recent years has sadly seen a decline in its fortunes.

For most of the last Century, the Canadian Liberals were that country’s Government.

However, the past few years have not been kind for them and in Canada’s last General Election, held in May last year, it returned just 34 seats in the House of Commons…losing, for the first time, it’s place as being either the Government or the Official Opposition.

Rather reminiscently of the situation here, The Liberals are now Canada’s third party.

They are currently led by Interim Leader Bob Rae MP, following the resignation of previous head honcho Michael Ignatieff after the disastrous election result.

There’s lots of talk that when the contest for the next Leader takes place (which, for some reason I’m yet to quite understand, won’t be until next year), the torch will pass a generation to 40-year old Justin Trudeau MP.

Mr Trudeau is the son of legendery former Liberal Leader and Canadian Prime Minister, the late Pierre Trudeau, (who was PM from 1968 to 1979.)

Being the son of a former Prime Minister already gives him a spotlight, but Mr Trudeau also has good looks and relative youth to go with his strong political lineage.

Indeed, he recently showed off his physical prowess and youthful male virility in a charity boxing match.

He took on and beat Conservative Senator Patrick Brazeau.

This rather puts Tony Blair’s beating aged European leaders when cycling at an international summit a few years ago in the shade!

If he does become his Party’s next leader I’m sure Mr Trudeau will realise that as his Party no longer has the Parliamentary strength it once did, it must find new, innovative ways to reach out to the electorate.

It must literally punch above its weight.

It’s something we Lib Dems here in Britain have been doing for many long years and, especially, since entering into Government.

With 57 MP’s we are clearly dwarfed, in terms of Parliamentary numbers, by Labour and the Conservatives.

But, we Lib Dems are nothing if not fighters, both in community politics at a local level and at Westminster.

We’ve managed to get in the occasional powerful jab…whether it be raising the lower end tax rate or re-linking pensions to earnings…but we need to be very aware that one of our larger rivals may be ready to knock us out with a killer punch.

One such shot across our bows could well be the proposed changes in terms of how Government and related agencies can snoop on our electronic communications.

We must resist such illiberal moves at all costs.

For if we don’t, we’ll not only become a less liberal and free country…as a Party we’ll lose our Unique Selling Point.

And that, I suggest, could really leave us face down on the mat.

Facing the ten count.

‘We need to make sure all of our children get a good start in life…’ My latest piece for ‘Left Central’

April 7, 2012 § Leave a comment

The following is my latest blog post for ‘Left Central.’

It challenges my fellow Liberal Democrats to challenge Education Secretary Michael Gove’s rightward-lurch when it comes to how our children are educated.

In this piece I also defend the concept of comprehensive education.

Here it is: http://leftcentral.org.uk/2012/04/05/would-you-trust-michael-gove-with-your-child/

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.