By Oliver Briscoe, 3rd Year Law, Vice-President BUCA
Conservative ideals are not at odds with environmental policy. Where the Left does not have a monopoly on compassion, the green movement does not have one on conservation.
The Conservative party is currently in one of its worst states. It has always struggled to attract students and from them the support to change green policy.
The eco-movement comes from school protests and it is one of the first concerns of most undergraduates in the UK, Conservative or not. As a Conservative student, it is clear that up until recent years, green policy was not a priority for the Conservative party. Cameron changed the oak tree and made it leafy but those were the Cameron years when the effects of the crisis needed to be managed and the country lifted back up.
Now, for once, the Conservative party has the opportunity to attract students, like you and I at Bristol, and to make it's case as to why it is the most effective choice to remedy the effects of climate change. We can create eco-Conservatism.
Waking up earlier than I usually do, I lay in the grey hue of an early morning, pondering the effects of climate change and the English seasons. I asked myself what could I further do to act consciously against it.
I could stop flying but we do not all have the Greta Thunberg fame or the time of a Swedish schoolgirl to sail across the Atlantic. My red meat consumption does not exceed twice or thrice a week. I buy clothes to last a lifetime. I was at a loss. I was trying to live a fairly balanced but sensibly modern life, as most of us try to in relation to our environment.
'Stop shouting through microphones and the British people will listen.'
The real problem is that the eco-movement, a movement that should appeal to all, move all and engage all sides of the political divide, has been claimed by a minority of the radical left-wing. Their political voice is represented by a very minor political party which, as a party, seeks power and influence and to do so must alienate and oppose other parties. They usually rail against the Conservatives because we are the least likely to support them, balancing economic interest with ecological interest instead of being guided by a fanaticism for one or the other.
The Green movement is the definition of that ideological pursuit which is so foreign to Toryism and presents itself as being averse to Conservatives.
The sight of Extinction Rebellion, motivated by all the right reasons but activated by all the wrong people, the traditional mix of recycled CND speakers and Trade Unionist who need a new calling, a new cause. It was also taking all the wrong actions, disrupting central London, encouraging vagrancy and leaving litter in the streets.
'Capitalism will adapt to a green economy.'
Didactic and sanctimonious, crossing Piccadilly Circus from the quiet backwater of St James, I was harangued and hailed on a loud speaker by children who know so little, with all the solutions to the world's problems. This was not a movement of conciliation or a great call to unite. It was not an appeal to join the common cause but a large protest, orchestrated by the usual radical disruptors, put in place to vilify and revolt the very section of society that it needs to convince.
The eco-message needs to be politely suggested to the earning middle-classes with the guidance and voices of young graduates starting out in life and career. For it is the Conservatives who have the power and the influence to make a real difference. Capitalism will adapt to a green economy.
Many new businesses are created around vegetarians and vegans. All the old car manufacturers of Europe have the technology for electric vehicles, they just have no profit-incentive to develop and distribute them. Oil companies are some of the biggest investors in renewable energy, it is they who have the funds to finance it.
Land owners and the British agrarian industry are those who can be convinced to change their practices and to re-wild. Industry and business is only one step away from fully embracing and profiting from a green economy. These profits will then go on to generate further environmentally beneficial innovation and business.
Once the momentum is gained, the green-economy will be a virtuous circle. So why has this not happened? Despite the clamour, consumers do not demand it. You, as a part of society, do not create the demand for it. Students try and are the most likely to change this societal neglect. One cannot blame business for not responding to a demand which is not there.
'We can create eco-Conservatism.'
So, I urge students to call upon the Conservative party, engage with it and help it implement policy which is both balanced and progressive. Not to protest with trade union placards in a powerless struggle with an ailing and an outworn opposition, but to drive green business, to innovate green technology, to abandon radical reaction for measured action. To create great demand in society by getting one of the established two parties to promote it.
Labour in its current form is stuck radically disenfranchising most of the country. Corbyn’s brand of intellectual Marxism - no longer fit for our modern society - is failing to give hope or aspiration to the less fortunate.
It does not promise a better future, a greener future for its voters or their children. Its environmental policies are either as radical as its other policies; impractical, detrimental and disruptive, or they are retrograde: re-opening the mines.
Corbyn fails to see that people do not want a United Kingdom where they send their children down the mines, they want a United Kingdom where they can send them to work in finance, in science and all the other modern industries which will one day be green.
So, turn to the Conservatives. My Bristol peers, it is they who are focused with re-introducing technical skills, it is they who are ready to invest in a green economy, instead of using the State to artificially support it, it is the Conservatives who will bring about a sustainable long term change in ecological policy because they will ensure it is beneficial for everyone. They will do it by ushering a gentle transition to allow business to adapt and people to re-train, re-focus themselves on eco-innovation.
'Turn to the Conservatives.'
Conservative industrial policy does cover the new training and hard skills needed for a future in green industry and clean energy. The green-issue is a fertile political ground not yet completely claimed by the left and if ploughed and sowed by the Conservatives, could be more beneficial for the environment.
Most students will think Toryism is at odds with the environment. I disagree, it is in the nature of Conservatives and One-Nation Tories to preserve our natural heritage.
I joined the Conservative party at the age of 15, the same year I joined the National Trust, an organisation I felt the need to join when roaming the cliffs of North Cornwall. I was taken by the sights and beauty.
There I realised I could preserve this landscape and I am not the only one, membership of the Trust has shot up in recent years. I, as Conservative as any, wanted to protect the Cornish coasts and the country I loved. It is our national duty not to spoil this land.
'Abandon radical reaction for measured action.'
That is how environmental activism will join with the Conservatives and that is how the Conservative Party too, will reach across that same divide and introduce the change which we all desperately need.
I call upon Bristol students to engage with the Conservative Party and help to start bringing about the gradual change needed. The Conservatives are not only open to environmental conservation, in their own traditional way but the part of the country who, once convinced will be able to bring about the most good. The Conservatives are receptive to green ideas, but it is the communication of those ideas which has so far failed.
Stop shouting through microphones and the British people will listen.
Stop the very Old Labour class war, a phantom of the failing 1970s whipped fresh by Corbyn and Milne. Stop harassing and ignoring rural Britain and you will find a country with an incentive to create eco-change.
To make the most effective improvement, students should think of voting for, and in return demand more, from the Conservatives. Together bringing about eco-conservatism. Students can find common ground with them and I tell you, as both, I see plenty. Otherwise we will all suffer.
It will become too late and we will not be able to prevent harsh but necessary bans and limits and cut-offs which will ruin this country and its economy.
Featured: Epigram / Sabrina Miller
Which party do you think is best suited to fight climate change? Let us know.