David Cameron Faces Climate Rebellion

  • Date: 19/01/10

David Cameron was given a stark warning yesterday that his enthusiasm for green policies is unlikely to be shared by the coming influx of Tory MPs. A poll of the 240 Conservative candidates best placed to win seats at the election found most ranked tackling climate change as their lowest priority.

Reducing Britain’s soaring deficit was rated the most important issue facing the country.

The poll, published by the conservativehome website for Tory supporters, will come as a blow to the party leader.

Mr Cameron has repeatedly campaigned on the slogan “vote blue, go green” and was famously pictured with huskies in the Arctic to highlight the threat of global warming.

He is under increasing pressure from within party ranks to scrap plans for swingeing green taxes.

The poll found that 144 Tory candidates in marginal seats ranked “reducing Britain’s carbon footprint” as the least important from a list of 19 priorities for the next government.

Only eight candidates thought climate change was top priority for an incoming Tory candidate, compared with 112 most worried about the borrowing crisis.

Tim Montgomerie, of conservativehome, said: “This is a hugely controversial issue for the ­Conservative Party.”

He said there was little support among the centre-right think tanks that influence Tory policy for action to tackle climate change. He said: “I’m confident the sceptics are going to win. It’s for Cameron to decide how he’s going to get out of this. He’s lost the battle already.”

Many Tory activists fear campaigning on climate will antagonise voters who fear the issue is simply an excuse from politicians for more tax and meddling.

A recent poll suggested about half the public do not believe that climate change is caused by human activity.

For the conservativehome poll, Tory Parliamentary candidates were asked to rate 19 political issues on a scale of one to five in importance.

Candidates gave climate change an average rating of 2.8, significantly below “more help for marriage” with a 3.6 rating and “protecting the English countryside” with a 3.5 rating.

Top of the list were “cutting the budget deficit” with an average rating of 4.7 and “cutting red tape and regulation, particularly for small business” with an average rating of 4.3.

It follows another recent poll that found 76 per cent of Tory supporters thought the cost of energy bills was a more important issue than climate change.

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