It’s a matter of continuing disappointment that the Labour Party appears not to have anything much to say on wildlife and rural issues. Maybe there will be a mesmerising list of positive policy announcements over the weeks and months running up to the general election (four calendar months distant on Wednesday (and actually 17 weeks from Thursday)) but, also, there might not be.
So, here’s an idea that would immediately capture quite a lot of goodwill and even some votes for the Labour Party: announce that Labour will not contest Brighton Pavilion and will make Caroline Lucas Secretary of State for the Environment if Labour forms the government or the major partner in a coalition government.
What would Labour lose from this?:
- the possibility of winning Brighton Pavilion but it looks a bit of a long shot to me anyway
- some face, because it would look like Labour needed the help of another party
- if it came to pass, a truly radical voice around the cabinet table
What would Labour gain from this?:
- a better-informed, more highly-experienced, more-eloquent and more-passionate environment secretary than they can find, probably, in their own ranks. And I mention those attributes in descending order of importance to me. There is no doubt that Caroline Lucas knows her stuff, she has demonstrated that over and over again in the present parliament.
- some face, because it would look as though Labour treated environmental issues seriously, wanted to do a good job, and was prepared to seek talent wherever it could be found.
- the votes of some wavering Labour supporters all over the country, some in marginal constituencies, who would feel that they were voting for a socially fair and considerate government that would actually get something done on environmental issues.
- a pretty good answer to any environmental criticism levelled at Labour for the next few months. ‘What is Labour going to do for the environment? Well, for a start we are going to co-opt a green MP to work at a senior level within the government – you won’t find the Conservatives or any other party offering that!’.
- a truly radical voice around the cabinet table.
It won’t happen – but it would be a smart move if it did happen. Remember, there may be some considerable horse-trading going on on 8 May 2015 and maybe for quite some time afterwards. There may well be some difficult compromises and deals to be done. Why not show the electorate that you are able to be flexible and act for the public good ahead of having to do so in a rush and in the confusion of a hard-fought election campaign?
And by the way, this blog will put a lot of effort into keeping you informed of your electoral choices on the run up to the general election. It will welcome Guest Blogs from the political parties, from politicians and from informed, interesting and provocative writers. And I will aim to give you a well-informed commentary on, and guide to, the environmental aspects of the main parties’ manifestos. Sometimes people mistake my membership of the Labour Party as undying devotion and complete adherence to all that it says – you may well find that that is very far from the case during this campaign (but, we’ll have to wait and see).