As I write the final results are just in and the Conservative Party have a clear, but small, 5 seat majority, which is however 99 more seats than the next biggest party, Labour.
Reflecting on my ‘Bee’s eye View of 2015 Election Manifestos’ blog it is clear that the two parties who seemed to offer the most for bees had mixed fortunes – the Liberal Democrats crashed and burnt, losing 49 seats, while the Greens increased their share of the national vote to 3.8% of the people, but they never-the-less only have 1 MP. With the two parties that were committed to a bringing forward the Nature and Wellbeing Act in the next Parliament having only nine seats between them, and neither party being in Government, the chances of getting this important Bill through in the next 5 years is diminished. Indeed, the wildlife NGO’s had been planning to promote the need for a new Bill to restore wildlife and secure it at the heart of decision making during the coalition forming process – back to the drawing board.
The tone of my twitter feed is heavily disappointed and bee lovers in particular are expressing woe and concern. However, there is still much to play for, the Conservative Party is committed to “work with it [the Natural Capital Committee] to develop a 25 Year Plan to restore the UK’s biodiversity, and to ensure that both public and private investment in the environment is directed where we need it most” – we must work together to ensure that the plan is really substantial and effective. In addition the Conservative Party will still be overseeing the implementation of the National Pollinator Strategy and we are currently working with Defra to ensure that the actions proposed are sufficient to make a real difference to our declining bee populations.
Of course on other issues such as tackling neonicotinoids plus other insecticides and reducing their impact on wildlife, saving endangered wildlife that happens to live on brownfield sites, and securing enough of the agri-environment budget to fix farmland biodiversity and deliver B-Lines – we can expect the running to be harder, at least for a while.
Given that all the predictions about this election were wrong, now is a good time to make some more predictions that may or may not turn out to be correct:-
- 1) What Climate Change? – The UK media and politicians will be so wrapped up with the negotiations about changing the EU rules before the UK in/out EU referendum, that they will completely forget that the important negotiations that we really do have to get right are those leading up to the Paris climate conference in December 2015. Fail at that and the planet enters a real crisis situation with no light at the end of the tunnel. A bad time for navel gazing.
- 2) What Defra? –Defra will be cloven into two with the ‘environment’ half going to the department of Energy and Climate Change and the ‘MAFF/Agriculture’ half going to Business, Innovation and Skills.
- 3) Environment is Big Again! – Within a couple of years concern about environmental impacts, including, climate change, wildlife, fracking and miss-placed development, will rise up the agenda again. We already know that the environment topped twitter discussions, that it also topped lists of issues that the public wanted to see debated more , that young people repeatedly cited the environment amongst their top concerns and that the Green Party vote was its highest ever. If this Government does not take the environment sufficiently seriously then I expect a backlash is now waiting in the wings.
One thing is certain, Buglife and other wildlife NGO are needed now more than ever to speak out on behalf of wildlife, both endangered and widespread, and to make sure that we are creating the space and conditions that this marvellous treasure needs to survive and thrive.
If you want to support our work please go to – www.buglife.org.uk/joinus