On Friday 15th May, Ed Miliband, the Secretary of State for Energy & Climate Change answered questions from an interested audience at a theatre in Chorlton for well over an hour.
This post will be expanded by Saturday 23rd, but for now the following observations will have to do.
The event was hosted and chaired capably and without any unnecessary self-promotion ofrflim-flam by Lucy Powell, who is a prospective Labour candidate at the next election (anyone taking bets?!)
Miliband seemed understandably nervous and at pains to Make No Excuses for the grotesque expenses scandal. [It emerged in the following day’s Telegraph that he himself has got a very very clean bill of health]
He seemed very well briefed indeed, and fluent in defending Government policy. [Yes, I know you’d expect that comes as standard for Cabinet ministers, but you’d be surprised: I’ve seen a couple of trainwrecks in my time.]
He DIDN’T use up half the allotted hour and 20 minutes with some idiotic anodyne speech full of platitudes, in an effort to talk out the clock/minimise exposure to un-mediated questions. His opening remarks were, as he’d advertised, brief.
He seemed (again, I am aware of the Marxian maxim that “sincerity is everything; once you can fake that, you’ve got it made”) genuinely interested in hearing suggestions that people had.
Nothing above or below is meant to excuse or praise Government policy, or to imply that the British State’s response to climate change is in any immediate danger of becoming adequate. Let’s keep things in perspective here…
He was asked a series of questions about aviation, nuclear energy, Kingsnorth, the climate bill, the science of climate change, protest transport, Copenhagen, snouts in trough etc. He didn’t, to my eye, outrageously duck or weave or dissemble.
Below are a few verbatim quotes scribbled down.
On Transition Towns (he is going to the conference next week)
“It’s the kind of thing you worry about. Government gets its hands on it, might be just the thing to strangle the movement.”
On Carbon Capture and Storage
“Unless we get CCS to work, we’re completely stuffed.”
On UK targets (in response to one of a series of Friends of the Earth questioners)
“We need to go bigger than 34% by 2020 (but we are part of the EU negotiations)
Although I left early, I’m told there were no major surprises in the last 15 minutes. All in all, he emerged with his dignity and credibility intact and even enhanced