Lewes MP lampooned in ‘dirty oil’ row

AN image of Lewes MP Norman Baker covered in black oil has been distributed throughout his constituency.

It is part of a hard-hitting pressure campaign by Lush Cosmetics against Mr Baker, who it accuses of failing to keep dirty tar sands oil out of the European Union.

Some 40,000 leaflets were being delivered to every single home in the Lewes constituency.

His face also appeared on billboards outside the Lush shopfronts in Brighton and Eastbourne with the words “Norman Baker: Tarnished”.

The Lib Dem member has hit back, saying he finds it “disappointing, and actually a bit insulting, that Lush ascribes motives and explanations to me that are simply wrong”.

Lush Cosemetics uses its retail presence to raise awareness on environemental concerns. “When it comes to the Canadian Tar Sands there is no bigger threat,” said a statement.

After organising 350 protests against the tar sands in North America and Europe, Lush has been lobbying politicians to support a new piece of legislation called the Fuel Quality Directive, which if passed will see the tar sands effectively banned from Europe because of their carbon intensity.

A Lush spokesperson said: “After a recent face-to-face meeting between Lush and Norman Baker it became clear to us that his office, the Department for Transport, is attempting to kill this legislation by delaying it for years. Being an MP with a track record of environmental initiatives, Mr Baker’s constituents in Lewes will be shocked to know that their representative is gutting Europe’s biggest piece of climate change legislation for years.

“Why would Mr Baker put a monkey wrench into the Fuel Quality Directive? Lush suspects he is a good man that is being forced to tow the Conservative party line. The Canadian government and tar sands industry are in the middle of an ‘unprecedented’ lobbying push in Europe to delay, and kill, article 7a of the Fuel Quality Directive which targets carbon intensive forms of unconventional oil like tar sands and shale.”

Lush said the tar sands have been called the most environmentally destructive project on the face of the earth. Mr Baker said: “I have made it plain to Lush, and others, that I am seeking to secure the best deal I can for the environment from the discussions ongoing in the EU about the Fuel Quality Directive. In my view, that means tackling all highly polluting crudes, not just tar sands from one particular country.

“I simply don’t understand why people who care about the environment can ignore all these other sources of dirty oil.

“I accept that there may be a genuine debate to be had about tactics, but I find it disappointing, and actually a bit insulting, that Lush ascribes motives and explanations to me that are simply wrong. It seems anyone who disagrees with their analysis must therefore be acting in bad faith.

“Firstly, what I am putting forward, if I can make it stick, far from being a wrecking move, will produce a better result for the environment.

“Secondly, I am not seeking to delay anything, but want a comprehensive package in place in the EU as soon as possible.

“Thirdly, I have not discussed this issue with the Prime Minister or anyone from No 10, they have not raised it with me, and I have not been leant on by anyone in government. However if Lush genuinely (and wrongly) believe that I am ‘being forced to tow the Tory line’, perhaps they should be helping me rather than attacking me, and perhaps instead targeting those who they think are responsible.”