“Chris Huhne has achieved more in a year than most top politicians manage in a lifetime”

High praise from the Telegraph for Chris Huhne, and deservedly so. Environmental correspondent Geoffrey Lean says Huhne “has been playing a blinder” through the introduction of the Green Investment Bank and the fourth Carbon Budget:

Over the last two weeks, as the crisis he faces steadily deepened, he has been the driving force behind two of the most momentous decisions any administration has taken, ones that could shape Britain’s economic development for the rest of the century, and beyond.

Last week the government adopted the world-beating goal of cutting carbon emissions to half 1990 levels by 2025. No other country, as Nick Clegg put it, “has set legally-binding targets in this much detail, so far ahead”. And then yesterday it announced that it was setting up an effective, independent, statutorily-based, Green Investment Bank, the first of its kind anywhere in the world. Taken together, they seem set to make David Cameron’s pledge to run “the greenest government ever” – which was in danger of becoming a national joke – a sober reality. The environmentalists who were so loud in writing government off just a fortnight ago are now looking green in more senses than one.

Both decisions were cliffhangers. Both were pushed by Huhne, resisted by Chancellor George Osborne and Business Secretary Vince Cable, and resolved only at the last minute by a top level intervention – from the Prime Minister over the target and his deputy over the bank. By widespread consent they would not have gone the way they did without the Energy and Climate Change Secretary’s commitment, competence and sheer cussed combativeness, and – though not greatly loved at Westminster – he has won wide respect for his nerve under fire. Whatever now happens to him – and environmentalists are desperately hoping he survives – he has achieved more in a year than most top politicians manage in a lifetime.

Read the full piece at the Telegraph.

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12 Comments

  • Mark Inskip 25th May '11 - 9:56pm

    There is no doubt that Chris Huhne is being a very effective cabinet minister and bringing through green iniatives that simply wouldn’t have happened if we had had a Tory government, and exceed anything we’ve seen from previous governments. These are major issues which will have lasting implications for the future. Its a pity our media doesn’t devote a few more column inches to these sort of stories rather than reporting tittle tattle.

  • Spot on. If Huhne survives, we will be rated as one of the best Cabinet ministers of the recent generation. Which is, of course, exactly why so many are gunning for him. The business establishment sees him as a giant menace to their status quo.

  • The time to judge any cabinet minister is, unfortunately, long after they have departed. It is only then that one can judge if the strategic decisions they took in office were correct and if the institutions they set up were viable.

  • You guys don’t live in the real world. The media rarely, if ever, celebrates an effective cabinet minister. That’s simply not the way it works. Instead, the media hounds them and looks for cracks in the facade. In this case, they were gifted a scandal by a wife with a grudge and a tape recording, circumstantial evidence, and an inept handling of the whole thing by Huhne. How hard can it be for Huhne to say: “Nobody has ever taken driving points given to me, nor have I ever asked anyone to do so” ?

    Still, if it makes you happy then carry on blaming the media, tories etc. etc. However, it might be more sensible for you to realise that you’re in government now and that the rules are different. Did you all btw complain vigorously when Labour and Tory ministers were hounded in the press in recent years ? In other words, is your concern grounded on the principle of an individual getting fair treatment or simple tribalism.

  • @Andrew
    I notice you never actually engage with the issue (see previous thread about Huhne or indeed your response to my post). Its ironic that you should accuse Guido of not doing this.

    Yes, I can think what I want. However, this is a nonsense statement. My cat thinks what he wants. How about addressing some of my points. If you want, here they are again:

    (1) In the real world cabinet ministers are not celebrated in the press. Its naive to expect it. Why do you seek it here ? I think my employer should give me free ice cream but it ain’t gonna happen.
    (2) Huhne has handled the issue ineptly. Why on earth doesn’t he just say “I’ve never given points away or asked anyone to take them ?”. What does “inaccurate” mean in this context ? He refers to the “allegations” being shown to be untrue on an earlier occasion. Which occasion is this ? You’re his cheer leader here. The points are rational. Can you explain why a clever and innocent man would be so obscure in his denials?
    (3) What was the LibDem position when ministers in earlier governments were in trouble ? I must have missed the statements from the LibDems that the press should leave them alone in the absence of clear unambiguous evidence of wrong-doing. Are you sure you’re not donning the clothes of high principle to mask basic tribalism ? That’s how it looks to me. You see the thing about real principles is that they apply universally and not just for people belonging to a certain gang.

  • Utter nonsense. You’ve acted as Huhne’s cheer leader and defender on this site. You have started discussions, written highly debatable things things (a minister under police investigation is under no obligation to resign, that he has denied the allegations without you knowing what the allegations really were etc. etc.) but then you back off once someone engages with these points and exposes flaws in your arguments. Are you arguing from a well thought out position or simply throwing supportive rhetoric ?

    The problem for Huhne is that I’m not the only one who is asking the type of questions I raised in my earlier post. Ignoring well reasoned points doesn’t make them go away, nor does a call on the media to focus on the good things some people think Huhne does.

  • @Richard T.
    There is no point in putting forward a detailed counter argument here. The narrative has been determined (Huhne’s decisions are good) and facts are fitted around this and criticism ignored. It certainly is of legitimate interest to ask how something which is is described as being “legally enforcable” would be enforced in practice. Furthermore, given that global warming is, well, a global issue and that China is now the largest emitter, our actions would have a significant effect on temperature changes (assuming that the scientific theories underpinning global warming correctly describes nature).

    Its rather ironic that politicos love to call for debate and yet seem wholly incapable of doing just that. Debate means putting forward and defending a point of view based on a mastery of detail. This is extremely important since well intentioned policies can often have disastrous policies. The fact that something is “green” does not necessarily make it good.

    Regarding fusion, IMO its a scandal that it has received so little attention. To develop it will be expensive but the costs involved are a drop in the ocean compared with the costs associated with global warming. Furthermore, even if fusion technology turns out not to be viable you can bet that the research which proves it, by necessity cutting edge, would lead to interesting and useful spin-offs, as has been so often the case in frontier research (eg the web, MRI machines, lasers etc.).

    One reason why fusion is not pursued is that nasty word “nuclear”. The fact that fusion would be safe is irrelevant since it has sometihng to do with nuclear things. Scientifically illiterate politicians and many in the general public simply don’t like this and think it must be bad. Lest someone think I’m being paranoid this is the reason why NMR (nuclear magnetic resonance technology) was renamed MRI (magnetic resonance imaging). Some patients were scared of the world “nuclear” in NMR even though it refers to the magnetic field in the nucleus which is shaken up in a MRI/NMR process and which lies at the heart of the technology. NMR/MRI has nothing to do with fission, bombs, power etc. The fact that the word “nuclear” may appear in an technology does not make it bad.

  • would have -> would not have

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