The Conservative Party’s Supporters Dramatic Shift On Climate Change – What Should Planners Make Of It?

Planner’s of course have to work with cllrs of every party whatever their own views. After all local planning authorities often switch control course midway through a local plan – which can be ‘cough cough ‘challenging.

I thought I had got used to what a typical rural conservative lead member was like (and by conservative I also mean the local independent who (prince style) formally known as Conservative). Old school, tweedy, polite, gentleman or womanly, funny, wise, skeptical of certain environmentalist claims though concerned about stewardship and countryside ways, and easy to get on with as long as (like family) you avoided discussing politics, foreign affairs, race, religion or anything controversial with them.

How stereotypical – today as many surveys are showing the conservative party base has totally shifted showing their number one POLITCAL concern is climate change. Their demographic and spatial base has shifted too. You never today see a 1950s style blue rinse, Mary Whitehouse supporting cllr.

Of course climate change is in the news everyday. The Charles Moore/Andrew Neil/Spectator old school may grumble about the shift; but they have lost the game. Go to any County Council or District Council controlled by Conservatives (or anti development indys formally known as Conservatives) and you will typically get as long as the council rules allow speeches on climate change. If Boris was kicked out tomorrow that perhaps is his main political legacy, from Green Crap to Green Obsession. Dishy Rishys time has come and gone – the Conservative Party will never again vote in as leader someone who presents themselves as a 1980s style media slick Thatcherite.

This poses a challenge to Green Eco-lefties. such as me, whose main narrative was that to save the planet you had to defeat those on the right whose greed was destroying us. That narrative, at least in its crude form, no longer works. Its a bit like the plot twist in so many thirds acts of movies; when whom you thought was the baddie turned out they want to team up with you to defeat the surprise real baddie.

So unpredictable times. Just a thought provoking blog to stir comment and thought. Planners have interesting times. Without new methods the risk would be to default to the default line of least resistance: planning is too hard, local plans are going to be too late, constraints are too great, objections are too much so lets build less. That would be a climate disaster and there are ways and methods out of this. A topic for another blog.

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