Click images for more details



Recent comments
Recent posts
Currently discussing

A few sites I've stumbled across recently....

Powered by Squarespace
« More holes in the IPPR report | Main | Stern exposed »


Among the reshuffle news today is this interesting switch at Defra:

Owen Paterson has been appointed DEFRA secretary, according to reports.

Mr Paterson will replace the outgoing Caroline Spelman as David Cameron carries out a major reshuffle of his Cabinet.

Apparently those of a green persuasion are not impressed by the switch, with Paterson seen as being much more hostile to environmentalists than his predecessor.

Other changes are being viewed equally dimly in green quarters:

Downing Street also confirmed this morning that former chief whip Patrick McLoughlin will take over as Transport Secretary from Justine Greening, who has been moved to the Department for International Development.

McLoughlin has in the past voted against Heathrow expansion, but green groups have already voiced concerns that the removal of Greening and Transport Minister Theresa Villiers from the Department for Transport appears designed to enable a Conservatvie U-turn on its opposition to a third runway at Heathrow before the next election.

Paterson is widely seen as being on the right of the Conservative Party and green groups were quick to highlight his previous hostility to environmental campaigns.

PrintView Printer Friendly Version

Reader Comments (29)

Yep, the U-turn is happening, as signalled by one of Cameron's closest political friends, Steve Hilton, in November. I'm also glad to see that Michael Gove and Iain Duncan Smith stay in place, as the reformers that matter the most in the current adminstration. Beyond that, I think Lord Lawson and the GWPF deserve considerable credit for transforming the debate at the highest levels. There's a long way to go but I agree with 'those of a green persuasion' that change is afoot.

Sep 4, 2012 at 1:13 PM | Unregistered CommenterRichard Drake

These two paragraphs sound interesting!

'Most notably, the influential ConservativeHome website reported back in May that Paterson made an intervention in cabinet demanding an end to all energy subsidies, an immediate fast-tracking of shale gas projects, and an urgent review of airport policy with a view to increasing capacity.

His stance on shale gas is particularly significant as Defra is responsible for the Environment Agency, which has been tasked with regulating and policing shale gas projects. It also provides Chancellor George Osborne with another ally in an influential position as he prepares to escalate his battle with the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) to shift the UK's energy policy landscape in favour of gas.'

Sep 4, 2012 at 1:23 PM | Registered CommenterPharos

On the Business Green site (2nd link) there is a poll where you can give your opinion on whether Paterson replacing Spelman is a good thing :)

Sep 4, 2012 at 1:29 PM | Registered CommenterPaul Matthews

At last, progress!

Sep 4, 2012 at 1:32 PM | Registered CommenterLord Beaverbrook

Owen Paterson:

In May this year he produced a paper which argued for the ending of all energy subsidies and the fast-tracked exploitation of shale gas.

He is also in favour of a review of airport policy, because he wants to see expansion at Heathrow.

And his brother-in-law is Matt Ridley ... so I guess we can expect significant policy change?

Sep 4, 2012 at 1:41 PM | Registered Commentermatthu

I used to get Caroline Spelman mixed up with Caroline Lucas of the Green Party. Good riddance to Caroline Spelman. This can only be good news.

Sep 4, 2012 at 1:47 PM | Unregistered CommenterPhillip Bratby

Welcome news indeed. If the government is to make any progress on the economy it cannot afford to keep the greens happy.

Sep 4, 2012 at 2:05 PM | Unregistered CommenterNicholas Hallam

When is Cameron going after the big man himself

Tim Yeo" is he a Man or Mouse" . So Disrepectfull of his Leader and the Prime Minister.

See if Paddy Power and Bet Fred is quoting on the New Chairman of the Energy Committee.

Sep 4, 2012 at 2:15 PM | Unregistered CommenterJamspid

I think one of the first moves Cameron should make is to set up a fast track enquiry to establish just how many jobs will be lost because of the green subsidies for windmills and the increased CO2 emissions they bring at vastly increased cost.

Sep 4, 2012 at 2:16 PM | Unregistered CommenterAlecM

Paul Matthews,
I just voted current state of play

Yes - new ideas were needed at Defra 44%
No - Paterson's track record suggests he is hostile to the green economy 42%



Sep 4, 2012 at 2:16 PM | Unregistered CommenterSandyS

Here's Lawson's reaction according to the BBC:

Former Chancellor Lord Lawson, a well-known climate change sceptic, offers his views on one of the key moves of the day, telling Sky News he is "very pleased" at the promotion of "little-known" cabinet minister Owen Paterson: "He is in fact one of the most able and promising young men or women around the cabinet and therefore his promotion to environment is extremely welcome… he is a man of reason and sense."

That's at 1346 on the left hand side here. Sounds good to me.

Sep 4, 2012 at 2:26 PM | Unregistered CommenterRichard Drake

I seem to recall Owen Patterson producing a paper on the CFP highly critical it was too. As soon as the Cameron got the power it was dumped. So beware of reading too much into the changes, the main obstacle is still there, Cameron himself.

Sep 4, 2012 at 2:52 PM | Unregistered CommenterDerek Buxton

Derek: I disagree. But then I've never taken a Delingpolian position on the Prime Minister as the worst ever. Hyprocrisy is ever-present in a modern democracy, because no elected politician can afford to be candid about their inner convictions, lest they lose votes from important segments of society that see things differently. (Thatcher was a remarkable anomaly, helped by the inept opposition of Foot and Kinnock, but even she was cannier in her positioning and compromises than often recognised.) The good news here, for me, is that Cameron cares less about the green vote than he used to, because it is diminishing in the face of economic reality and the need for cheaper energy. With those changing constraints this strikes me as a pretty shrewd reshuffle from a reshuffle-sceptic (an interesting term in its own right and an idea I'm sympathetic to). In line with his own biases Cameron gave way to Iain Duncan Smith on remaining at work and pensions, which I think was the right call. The prime minister for me isn't the problem - the problem is widespread false belief in imminent carbon catastrophe and too many renewables opportunists with their snouts in all kinds of troughs. I take Patterson's promotion to mean the gravy train's days are numbered. But there will be many skirmishes, not least between DECC and DEFRA, before that is shown to be true of false. In the end we don't know what goes on in the hearts of many of our leaders. The Pauline injunction to pray for them means I'm inclined to take as positive a view as I can - not that I expect that to convince everyone here, but it may explain the place from which I come. As an alternative, total cynicism doesn't help those that fall into it or do anything to convince the people that matter. But one has to say the wit of a Delingpole makes up for a lot.

Sep 4, 2012 at 3:30 PM | Unregistered CommenterRichard Drake

Well if the Greens are squealing like helpless little piggies then we're going in the right direction. What confuses me though is why these lobbyists even get any airtime? Is it a moral highground thing? Because I would say the moral highground now is protecting the economically weaker in our society from price increases caused by investment in all these green hobbies!

Bye bye green lie....

Sep 4, 2012 at 3:43 PM | Unregistered CommenterFarleyR

I just voted - unfortunately I got confused by the options and voted Yes - new ideas were needed at Defra 39% thinking that this meant I thought it was good news (rather than good news for the Greens).

Shows how well you need to read the question!

Sep 4, 2012 at 3:46 PM | Registered Commentermatthu

1:47 PM | Phillip Bratby

Let us not forget that it was Mzz Spelperson who employed an illegal immigrant as nanny on her parliamentary expenses.

Sep 4, 2012 at 4:17 PM | Unregistered CommenterHuhneToTheSlammer

'Damian Carrington is worried:' time to rejoice ?

Sep 4, 2012 at 4:31 PM | Unregistered CommenterKnR

Geoffrey Lean is upset. This has not been up long, but already he is getting little sympathy from his commenters:

Sep 4, 2012 at 4:47 PM | Unregistered CommenterJeff Wood

Richard Drake
You can count me in. Cameron is a politician and an inexperienced one at that. Like Blair he will sway with whatever wind blew on him last but he is not totally stupid and I think he is starting to reach the conclusion that his naivete when he first became party leader resulted in him being "had" — not least by Goldsmith and Porritt. (Note Goldsmith's threat to cause a by-election if the third runway at Heathrow goes ahead and the comment that he would be unable to stand as a Conservative if it did — somebody tell him you're either a Conservative or you're not and sometimes your party will do things for what it believes is the greater good that you happen not to like. Goldsmith is simply an opportunist.)
And following on from your comment about cynicism, I hope Huhne to the Slammer will forgive me for suggesting that his posting is at best pointless and at worst counter-productive. It might have been relevant if most of the rest of the MPs (on all sides) hadn't been "at it" and her offence was no worse than anyone else's so why pick on her now?

Sep 4, 2012 at 5:15 PM | Registered CommenterMike Jackson

Sep 4, 2012 at 4:47 PM | Jeff Wood

If our Geoff is upset, it must be good news.

Sep 4, 2012 at 6:22 PM | Unregistered CommenterDaveS

Owen Paterson is a total sceptic. He described the AGW/climate issue a "rubbish" (in my presence). He's also a strong EU sceptic. This appointment could be most interesting ... I am so pleased that Mr Lean is 'worried' - hopefully about keeping his own job.

Sep 4, 2012 at 6:56 PM | Unregistered CommenterPhilip Foster

Geoffrey Lean wrote in the Telegraph today

"Owen Paterson, who until today served as Northern Ireland secretary, has described himself as “a passionate supporter of progress, free enterprise and less interference in people's lives”, which suggests that he will not have much sympathy with the regulatory approach that underlines much environmental policy."

Geoffrey you just dont get it do you

Sep 4, 2012 at 6:58 PM | Unregistered CommenterJamspid

Sep 4, 2012 at 5:15 PM | Mike Jackson

Goldsmith is simply an opportunist

He can afford to be whatever he likes. He could probably buy the conservative party if he felt so inclined.

Sep 4, 2012 at 7:24 PM | Unregistered CommenterBilly Liar

Seems Harrabin is a bit rattled by Paterson's appointment; "Environmentalists have expressed fears that the reshuffle makes the government more likely to take decisions against the environment."

Sep 4, 2012 at 7:39 PM | Registered CommenterSalopian

It's a good article by Harrabin, one of the most informative I've read so far. But note that the link is buried far down the front page of the BBC website, far outweighed by the eight at the top on what are considered the big stories of the reshuffle. Coming from the school of Auntie Knows Best this can only reflect an utter lack of public interest in what environmentalists think about anything. I'm not sure how much sleep Roger Harrabin will be losing about this but from where I sit it's pretty ideal. The renewables interests will be hoping to continue business as usual, under the radar, but today is surely a strong signal that it ain't going to happen. It's a matter of how quickly different kinds of energy subsidies are cut and how much shale is fast-tracked. That's going to be fun watching. And we've still got Yeo and Deben to see off the premises. It's not over till it's over.

On a separate note consider the return of David Laws and his statement in June that the share of the economy accounted for by the public sector should be cut to 35 per cent. How many returns to a government can you remember that came in with that little message? Once we've seen the back of the warming scare - or at least those 'petty acts of futile virtue' Steve Mc talked about at the GWPF - perhaps this blog might go in the direction of its libertarian roots and discuss how Laws' vision could come to pass in modern Britain. The point he makes about how shocked past Liberal leaders would be at the level of state spending today is for me a compelling one. I wish him well getting back into the groove with his friend Michael Gove. (And yes, we have to forgive these guys the expenses stuff. They surely didn't go into politics for the money. Thanks Mike Jackson for his comments on that.)

Sep 4, 2012 at 8:45 PM | Unregistered CommenterRichard Drake

Re Laws: he might do well to follow John Cowperthwaite who transformed Hongkong from a shanty town in the fifties to enable it to become the powerhouse it today and spread the ideas to all the BRIKS.
1. interfere with business as little as possible.
2. 15% Income tax for well off. No tax at all for the poor. No VAT, no inheritance tax.
Result? extraodinary prosperity across the 'classes' Public transport and health services far better than the UK.

Granted we would have to leave the EU before scapping the huge burden of tax, Good idea. .

Sep 5, 2012 at 12:02 AM | Unregistered CommenterPhilip Foster

Mr Laws said the share of the economy accounted for by the state was “out of kilter” with the amount of tax the public were willing to pay.

Starting to like this David Laws.

Sep 5, 2012 at 12:39 AM | Unregistered CommenterLord Beaverbrook

Philip Foster

Hong Kong has the lowest taxes but some of the best public services. How do they do this? I read somewhere that it was based on their land taxation system but am no expert. Any experts here who can enlighten me?

Look like a slow move to reality from Cameron. So good news I think.

Sep 5, 2012 at 4:45 AM | Unregistered CommenterSankara

I'm with Patterson all the way. Fracking yes wind no. Works for me. Spelman never struck me as being very bright and probably a sop for the Lib Dems..

Sep 5, 2012 at 12:44 PM | Unregistered CommenterJohn Marshall

PostPost a New Comment

Enter your information below to add a new comment.

My response is on my own website »
Author Email (optional):
Author URL (optional):
Some HTML allowed: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <code> <em> <i> <strike> <strong>