Organisation: New Labour
Issue: Tony Blair's green speech
Tony Blair's spinmeisters pulled out all the stops for his keynote
environment speech to the Worldwide Fund for Nature, positioning the
speech as the Prime Minister's personal conversion to green issues, and
important enough to delay Gordon Brown's pre-election Budget by a
The green lobby, long awaiting clarification of the Government's
environmental policy, was the driving force behind the initial response
to Blair's speech, as it almost universally welcomed increased spending
on renewable energy, and evidence of 'joined-up green thinking in 10
Downing Street' (news.
bbc.co.uk, 6/3). Only the Green Party saw through the 'emperor's green
clothes', stating that 'on environment policy, Tony Blair is virtually
starkers' (news.bbc.co.uk, 6/3).
The media's response was more cynical, and typified by the headline 'I
hope you mean it this time, Tony' in the Evening Standard (5/3). 'The
unspun truth remains that he has yet to deliver on his promise, before
the last election, to enshrine green issues 'at the heart of government'
it noted, a sentiment mirrored in The Independent's editorial: 'A fine
speech, Mr Blair. Now let's have some action to help the environment'
Opposition spokesmen contributed to the scornful tone of reporting,
generously amplifying the message that Blair's apparent commitment to
fighting climate change was no more than a pre-election stunt to woo the
green vote, and accusing the Government of doing 'too little, too late'
(Yahoo.com, 6/3) on environmental issues.
The reasons for the spinners' hype became clear after the Budget, which
contained pounds 1.7bn fuel and road tax cuts, measures largely seen as
a pre-election sop to motorists. The Guardian was one of the few
newspapers to notice 'the blatant contrast between the Chancellor's
measures and the principles which the Prime Minister enunciated just 24
hours earlier' (7/3).
The environmentalists who had trumpeted Blair's new-found green
credentials just one day earlier confessed 'bitter disappointment' with
a Government seemingly 'facing two directions at once' (FT.com,
But with the bulk of papers focused on the Budget's electoral
implications, the contradiction in Government policy went largely
unnoticed in what appeared to be another victory for Labour news
Analysis and commentary by Echo Research. More information can be found