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Way to go, Paxo

Any spokesman for a vested interest is well schooled in how to say what they wish to say, which may bear no relation at all to what you’ve asked them.

I think I may have a new hero. Up there with Sir Steve Redgrave and 19-times champion jockey AP McCoy now sits the bearded wonder that is Jeremy Paxman.

His grilling of Greg Barker on last night’s Newsnight was masterful. Watch it here, it’s well worth it: http://youtu.be/AmXROyRiCbY.

The piece was always going to get the attention of much of this industry as it began with the line: Is the Green Deal failing? Well, as this blog and so many others have been yelling for ages – Yes, it ruddy well is.

Paxman’s body language, always fun, was, last night a joy to behold. And his killer line – “why did you design it so badly” had me laughing out loud.

I don’t remember this, but apparently a few months ago Barker said that he would lose sleep if 10,000 people hadn’t signed up for the Green Deal by the end of the year. Well, Mr Barker, to quote dear Jeremy ‘have you got the sleeping pills in’?

Well, it turns out that what Barker meant by that was not that he expected 10,000 people to have signed up to Green Deal finance plans (it’s way, way fewer than that!), rather that he would lose sleep if 10,000 people hadn’t made some sort of energy-efficiency improvement on the back of a Green Deal assessment. He reckons 80,000 people have, so he’s staying off the Nytol. For now.

Barker said that he knew the Green Deal wasn’t perfect (no shit, Sherlock) but that it was a “very novel initiative” (I think he means ‘new’) and that the Government will continue to look at it and bring in improvements. He said they have been in discussion with the supply chain on how to do this, although, in the next sentence he seems to imply that by this he means the big six energy companies and the large insulation contractors.

He said that one of the “tweaks” might be to improve the implementation of the scheme so that you could get a “Green Deal in a day”. I don’t even know what that means.

Barker remains convinced – almost evangelically so – that this scheme will work. Judging by his body language, Paxman isn’t buying it. And neither am I.

About Fiona Russell-Horne

Group Managing Editor across the BMJ portfolio.

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