Sunday, January 27, 2008

Cameron gets "Order of the Brown Nose" treatment

Polly Vernon makes a bid for this month's "Order of the Brown Nose" for her Observer Food section article on David Cameron, in relation to food and his green credentials. I'd advise read the following with a precautionary Alice-conveyed sick-bag at the ready:

How does David Cameron qualify as an eco hero? He became a poster boy for green in April 2006, when he took a trip to a glacier on the Norwegian archipelago of Svalbard to witness first-hand the physical effects of global warming. He'd been building his image for a while - he set out his eco agenda on his election as Tory leader, in December 2005. 'I tried to make a start this morning by biking to work,' he said, in his acceptance speech. 'That was a carbon-neutral journey until the BBC sent a helicopter to follow me.'

But that tour of a glacier - organised and supported by the World Wildlife Fund - sealed the deal. It generated an iconic image - Cameron, powering hatless through the frozen wastes on the back of a dog sled - and a certain degree of sniping. It was, critics said, a flagrant publicity stunt, a photo opportunity (why else, they asked, was Cameron not wearing a hat in the sled shot, despite obviously being very cold indeed?). Others calculated the carbon footprint for the entire trip - which was sizeable, if offset by (among others) the World Wildlife Fund.

But regardless, this was a turning point for conservationist politics in the UK. With it, with that picture, Cameron and his Conservatives co-opted the environment, and the public (who were in the throes of an Al Gore-inspired awakening) registered their approval in local elections held within a fortnight of the Svalbard tour. The government was inspired to give global warming some serious thought. The Climate Change Bill was eventually passed, in no small part as a consequence of a spate of prolonged political one-upmanship on eco.

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