Just 6 per cent of top Conservative candidates give a stuff about 'reducing Britain's carbon footprint'

At last, some promising news about our likely next Government. Conservative Home has polled the 250 Tory candidates with the most winnable seats on their most important personal priorities in the next election. And guess what? Of the 19 suggested issues, “Reducing Britain’s carbon footprint” came right at the bottom of their list.

The candidates were given a list of policy priorities and were asked to give each one of them a rating between 1 and 5, 1 meaning the goal would not be important to them and 5 meaning it would be very important to them. A mere eight of the 141 candidates who bothered to respond to the survey felt “reducing Britain’s carbon footprint” deserved a 5. Its average was just 2.8.

Unfortunately, because the survey was carried out confidentially I can’t give you the names of the eight candidates you shouldn’t vote for under any circumstances even if the only alternative candidate comes from the Monster Raving Loony Party. But I think most of you will agree the result is quite amazingly encouraging.

Although number three most popular priority on the list was the mildly ludicrous “Proving that the Tories can be trusted on the NHS”, I like to think this owes more to Party HQ brainwashing than heartfelt inclination. Pretty much all the other items that get a high rating ooze Conservatism of the proper, old-school, small-state, market-friendly rather than the grisly, progressive Cameroon variety.

The top ones are:

Reducing the budget deficit – 4.72

Cutting red tape and regulation, particularly for small businesses – 4.37

Reducing welfare bills – 4.19

Proving the Tories can be trusted on the NHS – 3.91

Reversing Labour’s erosion of civil liberties – 3.95

Reforming the tax system and cutting some taxes – 3.99

Supporting a Conservative agenda for fighting poverty – 3.88

Winning powers back from Europe – 3.86

More offenders in prison and more young people helped off the conveyor belt of crime 3.90

Reducing the level of immigration 3.87

Strengthening Britain’s military 3.76

Among those who didn’t contribute to the survey was Louise Bagshawe. But for those in her prospective constituency (Corby and East Northamptonshire) who need a reason to vote UKIP, she provides one here with this unbelievably fatuous comment:

Reducing our carbon footprint is a major priority for me, for example, and I see it going hand in hand with lowering energy bills (insulation, nuclear, offshore wind).

How, in God’s name, is offshore wind compatible with lower energy bills?

Still, let’s look on the bright side: if those 141 respondents are in any way representative, this is excellent news. First it means that Cameron hasn’t completely managed to stuff the candidates’ list with bland, heir-to-Blair centrists. Second, it means that there’s at least the dimmest of dim possibilities that the Tories might come round to formulating a sensible policy on energy and climate change.

The biggest stumbling block, I fear, is Cameron himself. He believes in “Climate Change” as fervently as New Agers believe in the healing power of crystals. Eating organic, buying the kids’ gear from Boden, and your coffee cups from Cath Kidston, buying distressed furniture from I Saw You Coming, worrying about glaciers: for over a decade now, these have been among the Notting Hill set’s most dearly-held articles of faith. It will require a great deal of persuasion before Dave allows his green conservatives to adopt a more sensible position. One that doesn’t, say, require Britain to ruin its economy still further by persisting with Labour’s plans to spend £18 billion a year on measures to “combat climate change”.