DAVID CAMERON and George Osborne were never shy when it came to highlighting the virtues of their ‘long-term economic plan’ – and acquiescent Tory MPs never missed an opportunity to indulge the then Prime Minister and Chancellor with mentions of their favourite soundbite.
Yet, as Theresa May is learning, politics is not just about slogans. It’s about the detail and the failure of successive governments to link the economy to energy policy, and vice-versa, threatens to compromise this country’s future productivity and prosperity.
Take carbon capture and storage, the concept which was supposed to drive Yorkshire’s clean energy revolution while helping traditional manufacturing industries to reduce the harmful emissions released into the atmosphere.
A notion which grew in importance following Mr Cameron’s ‘hug a husky’ photo-call in the Arctic in April 2006, mismanagement led to £100m of public money being squandered before Ministers pulled the plug last year on the White Rose project which was earmarked for the site of Drax power station.
Why were there not more effective cost controls in check? Equally, why did ministers and officials at the former Department of Energy & Climate Change proceed on a £1bn scheme without prior authorisation by the Treasury?
This country has to find the money to innovate when it comes to energy provision. Equally it’s not in a position to squander public money on an industrial scale – just think Kellingley Colliery could have been reprieved if a long-term energy plan was in place. Once again, it falls to Mrs May to make sense of the mess created by others.