In his début phone-in interview on LBC radio, Nick Clegg spent half an hour being harangued by callers citing his myriad of broken electoral promises, before (providing urgently-required comic relief) revealing that he once received a big green onesie – although he has yet to wear it. Coming a mere two days after political aide Patrick Rock was photographed outside No.10 with a clearly visible document spelling out the extensive list of this government’s discarded electoral pledges (causing them to take a cheeky tactical leak on the web), the timing could not have been more apt if it had been staged.
In the two and a half years since taking office, the Coalition has had mixed success in making their lofty promises a reality. I recognise that these unequal partners each campaigned on a different set of policies, naturally including some contradictory stances. I also accept that when building a consensus from which to govern, the two parties were understandably forced to make certain compromises. The Liberal Democrats, for their part, are due more credit that they have been given for climbing into bed with the Tories if it meant their cornerstone policies reforming our voting system and the House of Lords were ever going to see the light of day; that they squandered those opportunities is a separate issue.
That which does deserve wholehearted criticism, however, is the government’s abysmally poor record of bringing about environmentally friendly legislation. Both Liberals and Conservatives alike sought to woo the section of the electorate who care deeply about protecting the environment, claiming to be the UK’s foremost (mainstream) pro-green party* (the Tories even changed their “we are the pathfinders” torch logo into a “look at us, we’re green” cartoon tree). So whither the lip service? Where are either of these parties’ green credentials?
Every primary school pupil is taught what you get if you mix primary colours. Sadly, however, the only thing resembling green in this blue-and-yellow government is Nick’s unwanted gift.