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Simon Hughes outshines Environment Minister in Guardian Green Hustings

April 22, 2010 3:01 PM

Simon Hughes, Liberal Democrat Parliamentary candidate for Bermondsey and Old Southwark has been declared the winner of last night's Guardian debate between the three party's spokesmen on Energy and Climate Change.

Hughes took to the podium with Ed Miliband, the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, and Greg Clark, the Conservative spokesman.

In a poll conducted by the Guardian online after the debate Simon narrowly beat Ed Miliband. The question posed by the guardian for those who were following the debate was, Based on tonight's performance, who would you like to see as the next climate change minister? Simon got 46% of the vote to Miliband's 45%. A link to the poll can be found here. http://twtpoll.com/anyr6l

Simon's opening and closing statements from the debate can be found below.

Opening Statement

We have come here tonight for a debate on energy and climate change. But tonight's debate is about much more than this.

Liberal Democrats understand that environment and climate change issues touch every part of our lives, and every part of government policy. This is why in our manifesto launched last week (hold up manifesto) environmental policy was integrated into every area of our policy making.

Britain today faces three crises: an economic crisis, an environmental crisis and a political crisis, and we can't solve one crisis without solving the others.

We will not be able to recover from our economic difficulties if we continue to rely on finite resources, and waste much of what we have left. Moving towards a new and renewable economy will be the only way to create new jobs and return to sustainable growth.

If we had started this transition decades ago when the technology was already becoming available, we would not be in the crisis we are today. Instead of taking these opportunities the parties of vested interest continued to frustrate change by looking after the short term interests of their friends and associates.

Some of us saw this coming, some of us have been campaigning on these issues inside and outside of parliament for over a quarter of a century, but our voices were simply not listened to by government because we have a broken political system. In this system the diversity of views that exist here have been ignored.

In this election, if enough people have at last the courage of their convictions, and are willing to vote positively for coherent economic and environmental policies for the next generation, we have a real chance to change politics so we can change our economy and protect our environmental future at the same time.

This opportunity has not come a moment too soon. The best scientific evidence tells us overwhelmingly that global emissions must peak and decline by 2016, or the changes that the warming climate may bring us may be catastrophic.

Next month could see the election of the last parliament with an opportunity to avoid this outcome. Liberal Democrats are the only party with the vision, the strength, the commitment and the experience to deliver.

Closing statement

Apart from a few sceptics there is a broad consensus in our country that we need to take urgent action on climate change. So if for you the climate crisis is a priority, I want you to ask yourselves a question when you go to the ballot box on May 6th. Who can you trust most?

Can you trust a fourth successive Labour government to deliver, a government with policy on energy and climate change which has been built around a series of headline grabbing targets that it then proceeds to miss.

Can you trust the Conservatives, a party which have candidate, members and supporters galore who do not even believe in climate change, and others who see climate change as nothing more than a PR opportunity to try to win back some of their lost votes.

These are the positions of the red and blue parties, which have between them led Britain for 65 years.

Or will you trust the Liberal Democrats, a party which has consistently campaigned on environmental issues for all of its life, and a party whose membership and leadership have always been fully signed up to taking effective action on climate change.

I want you to go away today and look at our record. Remember our positions and priorities in previous parliaments and our local and national campaigning. Look at the analysis of our manifestos by reputable independent organisations. Look at our leadership now in local government.

This year we have a huge opportunity. For the first time in our lifetimes Britain has the chance to have people and a party committed to the green agenda in government in our country.

If these issues really matter to you, on May 6th you must make your voice heard for green economic recovery and serious action on climate change and this needs Liberal Democrats in large numbers in parliament.