The overwhelming atmosphere at Conservative Party conference this week was one of anticipation. Throughout the fringe events and the hotel bars, even in the main hall, a sense that something big was about to happen seemed to pervade everything.
“My MP is a shepherdess. What can I do to get her to ensure the Withdrawal Bill protects the environment?” Not the most obvious question you expect a panel to be asked at a Labour fringe event, but one that was indicative of the new energy that permeated through this year’s conference in Brighton. Everywhere you looked there were new members and activists, buoyed up on the wave of Corbynism, eager to change the world and asking the best way how.
The fact that the summer of 2017 is turning out to be one of the hottest on record was not apparent in WWF’s Living Planet Centre today as Michael Gove set out his first public speech on the environment since becoming secretary of state. As one of the most energy efficient buildings in Europe, heat pumps are engaged to transport cooler air from underground whilst window features reflect sunlight in summer to prevent excess heat. A perfect atmosphere for delivering a much anticipated speech.
Though the triggering of Article 50 occurred just over 100 days ago, it has felt like the Great Repeal Bill has been coming for a lot longer. And this is the first big change we will have to make: the Great Repeal Bill is no more. As it passes through parliament it will now be known as the European Union (Withdrawal) Bill. A title not quite as eye-catching but a lot more practical, and possibly an early indication of the government’s new approach. Read more
If the past month has taught me anything it’s that making political predictions is a mug’s game. Most of the political commentariat seemed as far off as me in their expectation of a parliamentary majority. Likewise, it’s hard to guess what exactly will be in the Queen’s speech, but here is what Green Alliance thinks it should contain. Read more
Next Tuesday for the first time in this election campaign, the public will get the chance to put questions directly to the major parties on their ambitions and aims for the environment in the next parliament at the Greener UK Hustings.
The debate will include issues like air quality and pollution, nature protection, international leadership, farming and fisheries, climate change and, perhaps most pertinently, what the UK’s exit from the EU will mean for all of the above. Read more
2016 has proven to be one of the most politically tumultuous years in recent memory, with a history-making referendum, a change of government, leadership elections in several of the opposition parties and Ed Balls dazzling the nation on live Saturday night TV. As such, last Friday should have been Theresa May’s 40th day as prime minster but, thanks to the unexpected termination of the Conservative leadership contest in July, saw her celebrate her 100th day in office. Read more
I used to work for a conservation charity famous for protecting birds and once, on a call, a woman used the phrase “let’s kill two birds with one stone, here”. I barely noticed what she’d said (it was water off a duck’s back to me) but the caller got so embarrassed that she garbled an apology and then hung up, mid-call. Phrases, and their use, can be quite important to some people, which was a running theme at the Conservative party conference this week. Read more
Travelling back to London on an overcast Wednesday afternoon (in the booked seat of a train company that shall remain nameless), the air conditioning broke and a small but steady stream of water leaked from the ceiling into my lap. The same thing happened to other people up and down the length of the carriage: dripping on scalps, trickling down backs and, in one unfortunate case, pouring straight onto a hapless worker’s laptop. The incident led to much British tutting and rolling of eyes. Complaints to the guard were followed by conversations with neighbours, the sharing of napkins and even a few jokes. This annoying shared experience led to a sense of unity amongst my previously silent fellow travellers.