So, what should we expect from Johnson’s Conservative government? I don’t really know.
The trouble with winning an election with a slogan and with a wafer-thin manifesto, and not engaging with any issue except getting Brexit done, is that there is other work to do.
I don’t even know what sort of Brexit the PM really wants. Do you? Does he? I harbour the hope that it might be a softer Brexit than we have so far imagined because an ERG-friendly Brexit will not lead to a world that will suit the voters of Workington, Wakefield and Blyth Valley in the long run, I fear.
It’s pretty obvious that running a country, and healing the wounds of a people, require different skills from winning an election. And there will be events, dear boy, which intervene. Who knows what floods, agricultural diseases (like bird flu, which is back), terrorist attacks or small wars in foreign parts might intervene to throw the government off course in the next weeks or months.
My worry (actually only one of them) is that the lack of engagement with environmental issues in the Conservative manifesto was not ultra-cautiousness, nor was it a mistake, but that perhaps it was because the plan is to do very little except to dismantle environmental protection as we head out of the EU and start sucking up to the USA looking for trade deals.
The Conservative manifesto was rated by many of us as the worst of all on the environment, and that is not a good base from which to strike out on the ascent of the mountain which is tackling climate change.
Look around. Where is the Conservative environmentalist who is up for the job and could do it? Zac Goldsmith has gone, and is untested anyway as a big hitter on policy – but anyway, he has gone. There may be a whole bunch of able Conservative environmentalists who have been hiding their light under bushels but they have been very well hidden. there may be great environmentalists in the new Tory intake, but they’ll have to wait their turns and progress up the ranks before we will see them. I shudder at the thought that my MP might have any role in environmental policy, but you never know. Unless Michael Gove is sent back to DEFRA to finish the job, and it is a big job, then I fear that we will not be blessed with environmental stars in this government. But I may be wrong, we will see. But if we don’t see a new star then the next five years will be important years wasted at just the time when we need to be catching up and moving on.
I don’t see much hope from what was said during the general election nor from what has been done over the past nine-plus years.
But if forced to be positive, then I would pont out that Boris’s dad Stanley is an environmentalist and surely some of that love of the environment must have lodged in his son’s brain. And Carrie Symonds is an environmentalist, and that must surely have some impact too. A one-nation Conservative would do something on environmental matters, and not just butcher Badgers, talk about recycling and not repeal the hunting act. There is much to do and maybe, just maybe, Boris Johnson will surprise us all (or is it just me) and make the environment a priority. I look forward to seeing what the DEFRA ministerial team will be. Bring back Gove!
And then there is the Labour party – no rush to comment on their problems,