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Not invented here: the politics of climate change

29 October, 2020 — By John Gulliver

Caroline Lucas

A FRIGHTENING picture of the climate disaster facing the world was given to local Labour members at a key monthly meeting on Tuesday – but a motion urging support for a “private members’ bill urging action” in Parliament got the heave-ho nonetheless.

In the Zoom meeting – sadly, the only expression of public life today in locked down London – 30 members voted for, 30 against, and there were seven abstentions.

But the motion remained frozen – because, bizarrely, as committee members heard, it had not originated in the Labour Party.

Dreadful as this may seem to some, the parliamentary bill is the creation of Green MP Caroline Lucas, and thus becomes untouchable in the parliamentary political caste system.

Ed Miliband

I heard a member of the Haverstock branch moved the motion at a general committee meeting of St Pancras Labourites, pointing out that a catastrophe faced the world as it headed for a temperature of 4 degrees – and that to save humanity it needed to be around 1.5 degrees at least.

It seems several party members are upset the Covid debate has edged the climate crisis off the agendas at shadow cabinet meetings.

Treat this with care seems to be the attitude of Labour’s national leadership. Steer clear of it because it hasn’t got the official stamp of approval. This appeared to have been made clear recently at another local meeting when a member bumped into Ed Miliband, shadow secretary of state for business, energy and industrial strategy.

Asked why, for instance, members of the Labour leadership weren’t adding their names to the list of MPs supporting Caroline Lucas’s bill – so far it has attracted 76 cross-party names – Miliband pointed out that Labour tended not to support bills that did not originate in the Labour Party.

I gather those who argued for the motion on Tuesday thought this was “tragically short-sighted”.

Isn’t the coming climate nightmare beyond party politics?


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