David Cameron’s Conservatism: blowing in the wind | Editorial

The prime minister's once-determined proclamation of a newly progressive Conservatism is now scarcely audible

A tiny change in the North Kensington skyline was perhaps the first sign that the Cameronian overhaul of the Conservative party had run its course. The Tory leader had talked for months about putting a turbine on his roof, but after the mini-windmill arrived it almost immediately disappeared, because neighbours complained of an eyesore. Whether a more determined stand against the town hall would have allowed Mr Cameron to keep his green gadget we may never know. But in setting out his wider environmental agenda, he put the best face on this personal setback by cheerfully conceding that it was "obvious that windmills in open rural spaces do better" than in his own urban lowland, "Notting Dale".

Five years on, and Mr Cameron risks becoming the type to pick up the phone to the planning office when a green neighbour tries to do their bit. As we report, the plan seems to be for the Conservative manifesto to impose some sort of cap on onshore windfarms. Yes, there will be triangulating words about expending (vastly expensive) offshore capacity, and yes too a few committed Tory greens are still plugging away on substantive details, as Greg Barker's solar strategy demonstrated yesterday. But the wider sense is of the early concern with the climate evaporating into overheated air. The 2010 Tory manifesto vowed to "increase the proportion of tax revenues accounted for by environmental taxes", but after holding down petrol prices for years, the chancellor used the budget to cut the levy on long-haul flights and freeze carbon price rises which the coalition had previously precommitted to.

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