Donald Macintyre's Sketch: It’s not easy being green if you’re Ed Davey


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Indy Politics

When Labour’s Kevin Brennan asked Ed Davey his “position” on fracking after New York State’s ban on it, the Energy Secretary said portentously he was sure the MP “would like every government to follow everything that New York State does, but we are an independent country and we make our own decisions”.

This was a curious answer, there being no evidence that Brennan is hankering after “everything” in New York State – the $25 fine for flirting still on its statute book, say, or the three “Las Vegas-style” casinos Governor Andrew Cuomo has just approved, or a recreation of the celebrated 1969 Woodstock concert in the Oxfordshire town of the same name.

Goodness knows it’s difficult enough being Ed Davey: a supposedly green minister in a Government many of whose supporters are anything but. But does he have to be this irritating?

Just how difficult was all too apparent, “shale extraction” (the official euphemism for fracking, which Davey supports within “a robust and strong regulatory regime”) being a case in point. “Let’s get cracking with fracking,” exclaimed un-green Tory David Nuttall, in what Davey debatably described as a “good soundbite”.

Another Tory, Anne McIntosh, however, pointed out that during fracking in Fylde, “regulation and self-monitoring” went “disastrously wrong”. This all faded beside Tory Philip Davies, who said MPs had passed the 2008 Climate Change Act so that “every other country would follow suit”. Yet that had proved “to be a complete and utter load of old cobblers, like much of what the Secretary of State says”. With friends like this on his side, Davey hardly needed enemies.

So sure enough, Labour opponent Caroline Flint seasonably congratulated Davey for his Christmas pantomime role as “a drunken monk”. Disappointingly Davey confessed that the Chessington St Paul’s Players’ production of Robin Hood had been and gone, depriving eager MPs of their chance to catch this improbable casting choice.