495 Uxbridge voters tip the whole UK climate policy into madness

Embed from Getty Images

Labour’s vote at Uxbridge went down (by-election compared to last general election). Our vote at Frome went up in the same comparison.

Within that context, it is not fanciful to suggest that if Labour had bussed in an extra 10 helpers the day before the Uxbridge by-election, they could well have won it.

So, it is therefore incredibly frustrating to see Rishi Sunak’s behaviour since July 20th.

We have seen “global boiling”, in the words of the UN Secretary General, becoming normal in July. Rhodes burning, Europe melting. The UK, so far, getting off luckily with fresh weather.

Yet, it seems that just 495 voters in Uxbridge have tipped Rishi Sunak (and Keir Starmer) into climate madness.

He’s pitting his whole electoral survival strategy on trashing the UK Climate goals, trashing ULEZ and “maxxing out” our carbon fossil reserves in the North Sea. Meanwhile, Keir Starmer is playing along.

It is total and absolute madness.

Chris Packham’s latest BBC series “Earth” describes how it took billions of years for life on Earth to evolve from a sort of bacteria matting at the bottom of the ocean.

Billions of years.

Yet, the UK under Sunak is determined to ruin this beautiful complex planet in order to save the skins of one of the most corrupt, dysfunctional governments (if you include all its forms since 2019) ever seen in the UK.

We need clear leadership here more than ever. But we are getting the opposite – leadership in precisely the wrong direction – from Rishi Sunak, helped by Keir Starmer.

What do you think about this? Please comment below.

* Paul Walter is a Liberal Democrat activist and member of the Liberal Democrat Voice team. He blogs at Liberal Burblings.

Read more by or more about , , or .
This entry was posted in Op-eds.


  • David Symonds 1st Aug '23 - 8:29am

    The Conservatives have refashioned themselves as the fossil fuel and climate change deniers party and Labour are not far behind. The issue of ULEZ extension in London had an impact on the Uxbridge vote but the policy needs tweaking and not trashing. The amount the Mayor wants to charge of £12.50 per day is far too high and the scrappage scheme needs revision but this should not be used as an excuse to trash the planet even further.

  • Steve Trevethan 1st Aug '23 - 8:35am

    Thank you for an exceptionally important article!

    “By choosing to burn more oil and gas, when the resources we already have available are more than enough to raise global temperatures to the point where life on Earth may not be possible, Sunak has proven that he is totally reckless and irresponsible”.


  • John McHugo 1st Aug '23 - 10:01am

    Paul – I’m interested in your comment that Labour might have won if they’d bussed in an extra ten helpers the day before the election.

    We are fortunate in the quality of our helpers. At the last election, I was unimpressed by an element among the Labour party volunteers I came across. Frankly, they were more likely to deter me from voting Labour than enlisting my support. Could that also have been a factor in Uxbridge?

  • Mel Borthwaite 1st Aug '23 - 10:58am

    I think we need to be very aware that, while most people are concerned about climate change and want policies that make climate change less likely, they are also worried about policies that make them poorer, make their lives more difficult or remove choices they currently enjoy. Sunak is choosing to position himself to pick up the votes of people like this.

  • Laurence Cox 1st Aug '23 - 11:58am

    The general commentary on how ULEZ lost Labour the Uxbridge and South Ruislip by-election has failed to take into account one important factor; the lack of fairness in Mayor Khan’s proposals. While he gave Inner London residents two and a half years notice of the introduction of the extension to the North and South Circular Roads, and indeed the implementation was delayed by six months from the original proposed date; those of us in Outer London got just nine months’ notice, as well as an inadequate scrappage scheme where he even squashed Hina Bokari’s attempt to make it fairer. Had Mayor Khan treated Outer Londoners fairly, there would have been much less opposition and I believe that Labour would have won the by-election.

    As it is, Mayor Khan’s location of these ULEZ cameras on main roads will, I believe, lead to increased rat-running as drivers of non-compliant cars switch to residential roads to try to avoid being charged. This is a particular concern for us in Harrow as many of these drivers could be coming in from neighbouring Hertfordshire and Watford where the scrappage scheme does not apply.

  • Peter Martin 1st Aug '23 - 12:16pm

    “495 voters in Uxbridge have tipped Rishi Sunak (and Keir Starmer) into climate madness.”

    It’s important to be clear that ULEZ is not particularly about climate policy. It’s about reducing nitrogen dioxide and particulate pollution which adversely affects the health of Londoners but doesn’t contribute to global warming.

    I’d be doubtful that ULEZ will make as much difference to the total pollution level as hoped or is necessary. Previous falls in the London area would probably have happened anyway as electric vehicles make up an increasing percentage of road vehicles and older more polluting vehicles reach the end of their useful life. The questionable premise seems to be that newer vehicles don’t contribute any pollution at all and whereas older vehicles do. We have some diesel cars, of typically pre 2015 vintage, which are taxed at either zero or £20 or so p.a. levels because of their low emissions, not being ULEZ approved. Naturally the public don’t see the logic. The ULEZ scheme doesn’t take any account of miles travelled which is at least as important as the year the vehicle was manufactured.

    There are valid objections to the scheme which do need to be addressed. Rightly or wrongly the public perception is that ULEZ is about revenue raising rather than pollution control. It’s not difficult to make a scientific case that this is to a large extent true. Until the perception is changed ULEZ won’t have democratic approval.

  • Peter Martin 1st Aug '23 - 4:12pm

    I’ve just checked on my own car which is a 2012 Nissan Note 1.4l Diesel. It’s in good condition, well maintained, with easily another 50k miles in it. The Government must consider that the emissions are on the low side because the annual ‘road tax’ is only £20.

    However when I put my registration number into an ULEZ checker I’m told:

    “Your car is not ULEZ compliant
    A daily charge of £12.50 will apply when you drive in the ULEZ zone.”

    Fortunately I don’t live near London so ULEZ won’t make much difference to me. If I did I would be extremely disgruntled!

    How would a pro ULEZ canvasser attempt to win me over and explain away the inconsistency in government policy?

  • Paul Barker 1st Aug '23 - 7:05pm

    The Tories are desperately flailing around for something, anything that might help. They tried US – style Culture Wars & few Voters were interested, they tried Anti – Immigration hysteria & that didn’t work & now they are trying an Anti-Green/Motorists Friend & that won’t work either. Its more likely to lose them Votes than gain them.

    Some, more intelligent Conservatives are saying they should go for an Election sooner rather than later but its all too little, too late.

    Labour haven’t recovered from Corbyn yet, they are too used to losing & can’t believe they are winning. Their plans for Government are actually fairly ambitious on Green Issues but they are terrified to say anything The Sun doesn’t like. I don’t think we can know what they will be like after The Election.

  • nigel hunter 1st Aug '23 - 11:06pm

    The party is far too quiet on the issue.It is time we raised the roof on this issue to counteract the mess that Labour and Conservatives will be getting themselves and the country into.

  • Peter Watson 2nd Aug '23 - 12:51am

    nigel hunter “The party is far too quiet on the issue”
    Is it?
    A few weeks ago, a Lib Dem MP tabled an Early Day Motion in Parliament to delay the expansion of ULEZ (https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-london-65997952).
    And this was reiterated a couple of weeks ago by the Lib Dem council in Sutton (https://www.suttonlibdems.org.uk/news/article/lib-dem-councillors-deliver-ulez-petition-to-mayor-of-london) with their petition to tell Sadiq Khan that “his Ultra-Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) is a bad idea for residents, businesses and visitors right now” and by the Lib Dem PPC in Guildford yesterday (https://guildford-dragon.com/lib-dem-and-tory-hopefuls-condemn-ulez-decision/).
    It seems that Lib Dems are being far from quiet in wanting ULEZ expansion to be delayed and changed to help voters in the Home Counties.

  • Peter Watson 2nd Aug '23 - 1:00am

    David Symonds “The Conservatives have refashioned themselves as the fossil fuel and climate change deniers party and Labour are not far behind.”
    Let’s not forget that the Lib Dem leader once claimed, “I love shale gas”. (https://www.energylivenews.com/2013/07/10/i-love-shale-gas-davey-confirms-again/) 🙁
    And a year later, Lib Dem Danny Alexander told us, “I have always been an advocate of Scotland’s thriving oil and gas industry, which is why I’m here today announcing the government’s ambitious package to continue to support this hugely valuable sector. We’re incentivising and working with the industry to develop new investment opportunities and support new areas of exploration. This will help ensure that the industry continues to thrive and contribute to the economy.”

  • Peter Watson 2nd Aug '23 - 1:20am

    @Peter Watson ‘Let’s not forget that the Lib Dem leader once claimed, “I love shale gas”.’
    Oops! Looks like the link I provided for that has died. This link (Google cache of a Utility Week article which would otherwise require registration to read) gives the gist of it: https://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:7fthN-_DNegJ:https://utilityweek.co.uk/davey-uk-can-lead-the-world-on-shale-gas/&cd=12&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=uk

  • Chris Moore 2nd Aug '23 - 7:47am

    So would it be fair to say that in view of the acceleration of the climate crisis, Ed Davey’s views have changed?

    Nothing wrong with that. To be welcomed.

  • Peter Watson 2nd Aug '23 - 9:22am

    @Chris Moore “would it be fair to say that in view of the acceleration of the climate crisis, Ed Davey’s views have changed?”
    There was plenty of information and opposition within and without the party at the time. Sadly it looks more like – and is easy to depict as – a Lib Dem position depending on the audience rather than the principles, and even the calls to delay ULEZ expansion can be viewed through the same prism.
    Sometimes there seems to be a fine line between localism and opportunism, with a local message for target voters being inconsistent with a national one for short-term electoral gain. This might be incredibly successful in by-elections, but could there be a price to pay in a national General Election campaign?

  • Peter Watson 2nd Aug '23 - 9:31am

    @Ian Shires “It also disenfranchises many of us who don’t live in the so-called Blue Wall constituencies whose interests and principles are sacrificed on the altar of short term electoral gain.”
    Very well said.
    I expect that targeting voters is a feature of any system, but I hope that electoral reform and more proportional representation would make it less narrowly focused than what seems to be encouraged by the current arrangement of constituencies and first-past-the-post voting.

  • How much of the Uxbridge 495 was due to a disproportionate number potential Labour voters staying at home due to voter ID?
    Probably not more than 495, but we will never know. But had the by-election been much closer than 495 this aspect may have had close media scrutiny.
    Either way Gove’s ID plan may well have helped give the Tories this win. And an excuse to ditch large chunks of green policies.

Post a Comment

Lib Dem Voice welcomes comments from everyone but we ask you to be polite, to be on topic and to be who you say you are. You can read our comments policy in full here. Please respect it and all readers of the site.

To have your photo next to your comment please signup your email address with Gravatar.

Your email is never published. Required fields are marked *

Please complete the name of this site, Liberal Democrat ...?


Recent Comments

  • Thelma Davies
    @Nonconform. I'm stating that it's my responsibility & my husband's that my children were toilet trained & had basic reading and writing skills prior to...
  • Mary ReidMary Reid
    @Simon Atkinson - I am so pleased you like our musings on Max's impact within and beyond the party. And please accept my sympathies to the whole family for the ...
  • Chris Moore
    @ExLD Leeds: that's a ludicrous reason not to vote LD. Theakes is in a vanishingly tiny minority regarding the desirability of PR, as you must well know. LDs...
  • Mary ReidMary Reid
    @David Raw - yes, you can register as an online member and vote for £20. I did it last time and it worked well. And anyone can watch it for free on the Lib Dem...
  • Simon Atkinson
    Thank you so much for these wonderful comments everyone, and for the smashing tribute, Mary. He would have been so chuffed to read your kind words. Max wasn't a...