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‘Who voted for this?’

Greenpeace campaigners interrupt Truss’s speech to ask crucial question
Liz Truss at the Conservative party Conference 05 Oct 2022

Climate and nature campaigners have interrupted Liz Truss’s televised speech at the Conservative Party conference today to denounce the prime minister ‘shredding’ her party’s election manifesto.
 
Earlier today, Greenpeace UK’s head of public affairs Rebecca Newsom and policy officer Ami McCarthy stood facing the prime minister close to the front rows of the hall where cabinet members were seated, holding up a banner asking: ‘Who voted for this?’.

Pledges vs action

A Greenpeace UK analysis has identified at least seven areas across environmental protection, climate action, workers’ rights and tackling inequality where policies either confirmed or being considered by Truss and her ministers are at odds with the 2019 Conservative manifesto.

They include high-profile pledges to have the ‘most ambitious environmental programme of any country on earth’, confirm a moratorium on fracking, ‘raise standards in areas like workers’ rights, animal welfare, agriculture and the environment’, reform farming subsidies so that landowners ‘farm in a way that protects and enhances our natural environment’, and ‘continue our efforts through the tax and benefits system to reduce poverty’.
 
The government has instead lifted the moratorium on fracking; set in train the potential abolition of hundreds of EU laws protecting wild places and regulating water quality, pollution and the use of pesticides; dismissed environmental protections as ‘burdens’ in the Chancellor’s Growth Plan; signalled a potential roll-back of new nature-friendly subsidies for farmers and is considering not increasing Universal Credit in line with inflation.

Growth at any cost?

According to a recent YouGov survey, 81% of UK adults believe nature is under threat and that more needs to be done urgently to protect and restore it.

Recent Ipsos research found that ‘growth is not supported at any cost, especially if it is at the cost of countryside and environment’, and polling from Unchecked found that deregulation is unpopular and a vote loser. 
 
More than 100 leading businesses have written to the prime minister urging her to stick to the UK’s climate commitments for the good of the economy.

‘Who voted for this? In a healthy democracy, people should get the government programme they voted for, but Liz Truss is putting most of it through the shredder. People voted for strong action on climate, a fracking moratorium, world-leading environmental protections, and tackling poverty and inequality. What they’re getting instead is fracking, a potential bonfire of rules on wildlife and nature protection, and now the prospect of benefit cuts.
 
‘Broken promise after broken promise, the prime minister is quickly turning her party’s manifesto into the longest piece of false advertising ever written. Many will be left wondering whether her government answers to the public or to the hedge fund managers, right-wing think tanks and fossil fuel giants that are cheering it on.
 
‘The Chancellor said the government is now listening. If so, they may want to pay attention to the widening chorus of leading businesses, energy experts, former Conservative ministers and even the US President telling them to go in the opposite direction.’

REBECCA NEWSOM
Greenpeace UK’s head of public affairs

Rethinking economics

Former Conservative leader William Hague has urged Truss to rethink her attack on nature, while former environment secretaries George Eustice and Michael Gove have called on their successor, Ranil Jayawardena, not to ditch a landmark reform of farming subsidies.

Meanwhile, US President Biden said that he is ‘sick and tired of trickle-down economics’ and that ‘it has never worked’, just days before the Chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng announced enormous unfunded tax cuts that will disproportionately benefit the rich.

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