No wonder that so many naturally bossy and Left-wing people are thinking of going for the Greens, rather than Labour. At least they have a world-view; at least they know what they think. For the last few years I have had the joy of engaging with the Greens in London, and I believe I understand their mindset pretty well. They don’t like capitalism, they don’t much like economic growth and they hate, hate, hate anything to do with the motor car. They especially hate and fear the advent of low-carbon vehicles, because they consider these to be an unfortunate diversion from their main purpose: to drive everyone out of private cars – with their horrid connotations of individual liberty and autonomy – and on to public transport.
On some points I agree with the Greens; on some I disagree strongly. But when I think of my friend Jenny Jones, now Baroness Jones, I see a doughty and often successful campaigner for a set of environmental or pseudo-environmental objectives. She was at all the mayoral debates in the run-up to the London election in 2012 and enlivened them. David Cameron is absolutely right in taking his stand on her behalf. Of course the Greens should be in the TV showdowns. They may be occasionally batty, but at least their case is gaining ground with the public, and at least it has some bravery and rigour about it. That is not the case with the hopeless hodge‑podge of Milibandery.
Just in the period since Christmas, the Labour Party seems to have executed no fewer than 21 U-turns – many of them junking their previous green policies. They were going to bring back a pro-bike quango called Cycling England; now they are not. They were going to ban food waste going to landfill; now they have given up. If the Greens are watermelons – Lefties disguised as environmentalists – then Miliband is a ripening tomato, moving conspicuously from green to red.
In fact, I am not sure how green Ed ever really was. His backers in the media claim that he was responsible for some kind of midnight breakthrough communiqué at the Copenhagen climate change conference in 2009.
Well, I was at Copenhagen, and I don’t remember any breakthrough at all – the whole thing was a fiasco – and I certainly don’t remember any intervention by Ed. And the reason I was there was because we in London were trying to promote a serious and sensible agenda for installing insulation, retrofitting homes, and so cutting fuel bills.
When we went to see the secretary of state at the Department of Energy and Climate Change (E Miliband) I was amazed by how little he seemed either to know or to care. He was much more interested in gossip than in a long-term programme for the country – and I fear the same is true today.
Yesterday’s paper contained a wonderful account of how he nearly died in a fire in Doncaster, during a long stay with the former mayor of that town. He took it into his head to move a convection heater off a pair of bricks and plonk it on the carpet. Both the carpet and the under-carpet ignited, and gave off such noxious vapours that Ed was sitting zonked in an armchair, in danger of being asphyxiated – until he was saved by his quick-thinking neighbour, who tipped him into the garden.
Miliband later made amends by buying a carpet to cover the burns, though the effect was slightly spoiled when his hosts realised that it was a Muslim prayer mat.
What’s that burning smell? It’s another giant hole appearing in Ed Miliband’s policies – and there isn’t a mat big enough to cover them.