Friday, 22 January 2010

Unreal world Conservatism

Today's photograph was taken by me in 2002 from the Trans-Siberian Express, approaching Beijing.

For a public school-educated, ex-army former banker, Andrew Mitchell MP is surprisingly enlightened about international development. For more than four years, he has shadowed first Hilary Benn and now Douglas Alexander, visiting 37 countries. He came to Cheltenham last evening to address a mixed audience on the subject at St Matthew's Church: sixth formers from Dean Close School rubbed shoulders with wizened NGO campaigners and a retired MFH.

Last year, Mitchell (and David Cameron) launched his Green Paper, "One World Conservatism - a Conservative agenda for international development" - and much good it contains judging from his exposition.

The trouble is, Green it may be in name, but green it is not. The crucial words so conspicuously missing from his half hour talk were "climate change". If any member of a prospective Conservative Cabinet is likely to be able to impress upon his colleagues the overwhelming importance of our taking the most serious possible approach to tackling climate change here, in every policy area, it must be our well-travelled Shadow Secretary of State for International Development.

But as dragged out of him at question time, "There is a flaw," he confessed, "in the archetecture of government, in that the departments for overseas development and climate change are not linked." To which the riposte must be, "Fix it then!"

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