Cameron VS the Liberal Democrats: The Green Tax Promise


David Cameron is said to be going back on his word about green taxes despite obligations from Lib Dems.


David Cameron has come under fire for his statement on reviewing energy bills. The Prime Minister said that the green taxes had helped push up household bills to “unacceptable” prices, but a source close to the prime minister said his message in private was blunter than that. He is claimed to have said, “We’ve got to get rid of all this green crap.” Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne’s Autumn Statement in December will set out new plans to reduce the impact of environmental impacts on fuel bills. The changes have set out to cause disruptions in the coalition government because the Lib Dems vowed to prevent in any falls in levies during this parliament.


The Lib Dems are also keen to keep the green taxes, arguing they are essential to creating a sustainable and environmentally friendly energy supply for the UK. Cameron wants to scrap most of the charges, which help subsidise wind farms and pay for home insulation. But Nick Clegg is insisting they must stay despite Cameron stating “We need to roll back some of the green regulations and charges,”  during Prime Minister’s Questions. His decision to review energy levies came after three of the “big six” energy firms announced price rises of between 8% and 10%, as well as pressure from Labour leader Ed Miliband who is vowing to freeze energy prices if he comes to power in 2015. Cameron once pledged back in 2010 that he would lead the “greenest government ever” and even travelled, in 2006, to the Arctic Circle with a pack of huskies to highlight his concern about climate change. He applied to put a wind turbine on the roof of his family home and was repeatedly pictured cycling to the Commons – though this backfired when it emerged his shoes and papers followed in a car.


Yet, his stance on government ideologies about the environment seemed to have changed when faced with pressure in the House of Commons. Tory high command has also privately abandoned Mr Cameron’s pre-election mantra ‘vote blue, go green’. To defend his decision on regulating green taxes after promising to be the “greenest government ever”, he answered, ‘we have got the world’s first green investment bank, we have got great support for our green technology industries and we have got the first nuclear power station since 1995’. ‘This is a government investing in important green technologies’, Cameron defiantly states, when asked by journalists whether he still believed in the environmental agenda.


According to Government figures, the green levies add £112 to a typical household bill. The money is then used to pay for loft insulation schemes and subsidies for renewable energy projects, under the Coalition’s rules. Downing Street sources said that, if there was no policy change, green levies could rise from the current £112 to £194 – or 14 per cent of the typical household bill – by 2020. Mr Cameron wants action to reduce the impact of the levies, the source said.


But, rather than trying to dictate prices or influence the global cost of energy, he said the government’s focus was on dealing with the aspects of energy bills it could control. After the review is held, there will be a competition test for the energy market to see how it is functioning. He said that he wants more energy companies so that consumers have greater choice. ‘I want more companies, I want better regulation, I want better deals for customers, but yes we need to roll back the charges that Mr Miliband put in place as energy secretary’. The reaction from some Lib Dem members hasn’t been too positive with a source accusing the Conservatives of a “panicky U-turn”.


“Everybody knows the Tories are getting cold feet on the environment” the source said.


“The Tories have put no properly worked up policies in front of us. But we will not allow a panicky U-turn during PMQs to dictate Government policy. However where the similarities ended between the Lib Dem party was when Nick Clegg said green levies are not ‘all crap’ and added that Mr Cameron agrees with him. A Conservative MP and environmentalist Zac Goldsmith criticised both Cameron and Miliband on twitter “In 2010, leaders fought to prove they were the greenest. Three years on, they’re desperately blaming their own policies on the other. Muppets.” This came after Mr Miliband and Mr Cameron were seen arguing with each other during Prime Minister’s Question Time, when Miliband said that 60% of green taxes had been introduced by the current government and reminded the Prime Minister of his stated ambition to lead the “greenest government” ever.


“He really is changing his policy every day of the week. His energy secretary says it is nothing to do with green taxes. And who is the man who said ‘Vote blue to go green’? It was him.” To which Mr Cameron made a statement in response to a question from Conservative MP Brian Binley, he said:  “It simply is the politics of the con man to pretend that you can freeze prices when you’re not in control of global energy prices, but the proper approach is to look at what’s driving up bills and deal with it.”


Abigail Owusu