On the 30th March I e-mails all the candidates in the forthcoming General Election for my constituency Warwick and Leamington. I asked each of them the same two questions:
How will your party improve the environment in the national and international arena?
What are your specific environment concerns/policy for your constituency?
As of today (25th April) I can say that the response has been abysmal. Out of the 5 candidates representing the Conservatives, Labour Party, Liberal Democrats, Green Party and UKIP only 1 candidate bothered to reply.
This reply came from the current defending MP, Chris White the Conservative candidate, an irony given that the Conservative Manifesto doesn’t offer much to the environmental movement.
Here is some of what he wrote:
On National Policies
"The Government has reduced carbon emissions by 6 percent since 2010 contributing to a 27 per cent reduction since 1990, addressing the challenge of climate change while delivering some of the highest economic growth in Europe. The UK is set to be the most attractive EU destination for investors in clean energy. Britain's share of electricity generated from renewables has doubled since 2009 and Ministers are determined to ensure we become a world leader in the new green economy."
On Local Policies
“On local environmental issues, it is vital that we protect green belt land and that housing developments are placed on brownfield land where possible. Protecting our open spaces, of which we have many to pride ourselves on, is a priority for me. I have written to the local authority on a number of occasions regarding the Local Plan to ensure that developments are placed with the best interests of our community considered.”
These are just excerpts from a much longer letter that detailed all that the government had currently done. This was not what I asked – I am well aware of what has been done or not done – I wanted to know what they are going to do, having said that at least he had the manners to reply.
The only other effect my mini campaign had was to get me added to the Labour Party mailing list resulting in emails from Ed Milliband urging me to donate to the party and giving me a special campaign zone to canvas on behalf of the party that included a field, a park and an office block.
To say that I am disappointed in the response is an understatement, in the past 2 general elections all three of the main parties replied to me and helped me to understand their policies. The environment is notably absent from the campaign as a whole, and whilst I understand the importance of the Economy and NHS I want to live in a country that balances all its duties.
So has this exercise helped me come to a decision... quite frankly no. As a local MP the Conservative candidate has a fairly good environmental record especially in opposing government projects such as HS2. The Labour Party has a very tempting offer to end the Badger Cull and tighten animal welfare policies. The Liberals in my opinion have the best policy involving a Nature Act to back up change with legislation. The Greens likewise have good policies and UKIP... well they have some good ideas and some worrying ones.
With 2 weeks to go I am none the wiser and I m sure much of the electorate is the same.