Four of our major political parties use symbols from the natural world for their logos: the Green Party use a globe, Labour a rose, the Liberal Democrats a flying bird and, rather bizarrely, the Conservative logo is a flag draped tree. All very evocative of environmental empathies, but how do environmental policies fare in the election manifestos of these parties?
The highly respected environmental group Friends of the Earth has published a league table of four of the major parties’ approaches to environmental issues in the forthcoming general election. They considered 16 environmental issues of major national concern and scored the parties a maximum of 3 points for each issue, based on their manifesto commitments and statements from their leaders. These are the results:
Green Party 46
Liberal Democrats 32
Perhaps unsurprisingly, the Green Party, with its strong emphasis on environmental policies, comes out on top with 46 points. Labour comes second with 34, matching the Green Party’s strong commitment to maintaining the environmental laws established during our EU membership, but Labour are judged poor on dealing with waste.
The Liberal Democrats come third with 32 points. Along with the Greens, they intend to be hot on the current problem of air pollution over Britain and also state an intention to redirect farming subsidies towards flood prevention and countryside protection, so that environmentally responsible farmers will be rewarded as a priority rather than those owning most land.
The Green Party, Labour and the Liberal Democrats are all strong on supporting renewable energy, and all stand firmly against fracking.
Despite a previous manifesto promise to “leave the environment in a better state than we found it”, the Conservative Party trail far behind in the scores with just 11 points. They seem to believe that our air pollution problems can simply be solved by planting more trees, while still building new roads, and they were judged to have a very weak policy on litter and plastic waste pollution. According to Friends of the Earth, the Conservatives’ attitude to fracking is an “undemocratic and desperate set of policies to over-rule local communities and rig the planning system in favour of this dirty fossil fuel.” Furthermore, the Conservative Party still offers only vague concessions to maintain environmental protections established during our term in the EU. They plan a new ‘Agri-environment system’ (as yet unexplained) to be introduced in a following parliament (if they get in). While committing now to keeping our national forests in public ownership (after their previous attempt to sell them off), the Conservative manifesto also promises a free vote on repealing the hunting ban.
To read Friends of the Earth’s detailed report on the parties’ manifestos click on the link below: