David Cameron yesterday slapped down a senior Tory who compared climate change activists to the Taliban, as he continued his attempt to green his party, despite the recession and opposition from sceptics.
Sources close to the Conservative leader described as "inappropriate" a website entry by Roger Evans, a London Assembly member, describing anti-airport campaigners as "the climate change Taliban".
And a spokesman for Boris Johnson, London's Mayor – who once compared concern about global warming to "Stone Age religion" – added: "This is not language that the Mayor would use."
The assembly's assessment sub-committee is now determining whether the remark should be investigated by its standards board.
Ironically, "the Taliban" is also the epithet privately used by green Tories for the party's climate change sceptics.
Last Tuesday Mr Cameron again emphatically sided with the environmental wing of his party during a regular private meeting with backbench MPs. He told them that the commitment to green issues would remain at the centre of Conservative policies.
Next week he is to have a special meeting with Dr Rajendra Pachauri, who – as chairman of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change – is leading scientific calls for tough action.
Environmentalists feared that the Conservatives would scale down their commitment after the sacking in January of Peter Ainsworth – one of the greenest MPs in parliament – as shadow Environment Secretary and his replacement by Nick Herbert, a founder of the pro-hunting Countryside Alliance.