LibLink: Ed Davey – Out of the Shadows

by Stephen Tall on March 18, 2012

The Lib Dems’ newest cabinet minister Edward Davey, secretary of state for energy and climate change, is the subject of an extensive profile in the latest issue of The House magazine, re-printed on PoliticsHome.

And it sounds like he couldn’t be much happier: “This is the thing I wanted to do – it’s my dream job. Environment, and the whole climate-change agenda, is one of the reasons I joined the Liberal Democrats. It’s something that really motivates me in politics and it’s a great privilege to be here. … I’m not going to be giving in on Liberal Democrat policies and values – I can absolutely guarantee you that.”

Here are three points that stood out for me:

The Davey Green Agenda:

Top of his to-do list are a push towards cleaner energy production, energy market reform, and the “extremely exciting” Green Deal, a scheme whereby loans secured against future savings on energy bills would create more energy-efficient homes. “Chris Huhne did a fantastic job in developing a set of policies, some of which need some more work on, but overall the key take I’ve heard from the first few weeks is we’ve got to deliver on those. I will be focusing laser-beam-like on delivery.” For Davey, that means a willingness to work with colleagues, both at home and abroad. “With the climate change agenda, with the EU agenda on emissions reduction, renewable targets, the energy-efficiency directive, we’ve got to work across Europe. So I’ve got to engage, engage, engage again with European colleagues to deliver,” he promises

Warm words for the Coalition:

“Of course, there are some decisions where there’s disagreement, but…often through the process of compromise, policy becomes better because you have to scrutinise it more. I think coalitions are about limiting the power of individuals, and indeed parties, so they have to think a little bit more about what’s in the country’s interest. I’m not going to, today, list all the things I think the Liberal Democrats have won and all the things we’ve lost, I’ll let other people make those judgments. But actually, I think together the coalition has won.”

Pro-windfarms, pro-nuclear:

“It’s very difficult to see a low-carbon future without onshore wind and renewables. Onshore wind is increasingly competitive. The last thing you want to do when renewable technology is actually showing that it can wash its face financially is to turn your back on it – that would be lazy.” Is he a full convert [to nuclear], or just a reluctant supporter? “It’s more than a reluctant acceptance . Nuclear has always been an issue of contention within our party [but] I think the balance of opinion has changed in recent times. I’m not trying to suggest that all Liberal Democrats are happy with nuclear power, they’re not. My personal criticism of nuclear power, the point I really worry about and still do, is the cost. I’ve always been worried about… making sure that new nuclear is cost-effective. Everything I’ve seen suggests it can be, and therefore it must be part of our strategy going forward.”

* Stephen Tall is Co-Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice, and also writes at his own site, The Collected Stephen Tall.