Friday, 16 November 2012

Corby by-election - will it help the Green Conservatives?

Okay, so Labour have won the recent by-election in the Northamptonshire constituency of Corby. This is interesting for a couple of reasons. First, Corby is an interesting bellweather for a whole swathe of English constituencies in the Midlands - old industrial core, with a rural conservative hinterland. If Labour can win these kinds of seats, they can win the election.

More interestingly for me though, this was a campaign marked out by the prominent role that renewable energy seemed to play (at least this is how it looked to an outsider). The Tories candidate was anti-wind, and was busted by Greenpeace describing on camera how he encouraged an anti-wind independent to stand. UKIP is also anti-wind, and more importantly anti-environment in every way I can see. Whatever its arguments with the EU, it is choc full of the kind of anti-science climate deniers who justify their stance with a romantic cry to libertarianism. A lot of its members also seem to be scarily nationalistic. The important point is that these issues managed to push wind power in particular into a prominent position in the election - and they lost.

They lost badly. The combined votes of UKIP and the Conservatives were still smaller than Labour, and would have left Labour with a larger majority than the outgoing Conservative MP had actually enjoyed. Will this help to communicate to the Tea Party fringe of UK politics (in the Conservative right and UKIP) that they are not speaking for mainstream opinion? I doubt it, but it may at least take the wind out of their sails, and bolster the Tory's green wing. The downside is that it may goad Cameron into doing something rash on Europe in an attempt to win some credibility with his party, although I hope he has more intelligence than that.  

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