Opinion: Caroline Lucas is wrong

As a campaigner on environmental issues since the 1960s, I have admired the way Caroline Lucas has publicly championed green issues. However, while I am sad that the Lib Dems have not been able to implement all of their manifesto, I am even sadder that Caroline’s lust for power has overtaken her commitment to the environmental cause.

While the Green Party has played an important role in helping inform the public, it has only a very small proportion of councillors and just one UK MP. The Liberal Democrats, with their far greater number of councillors, their participation in the Coalition and their membership of the influential European ALDC, have actually been able to implement much green policy.

There are important differences between Liberal Democrat and Green Party policies, but there is considerable common ground to be exploited, particularly on environmental matters. If Lib Dem supporters were to answer her call to desert their party and follow Caroline Lucas, it might make her feel more powerful, but it would not win more votes for green policies in this Parliament or otherwise advance green ideals.

As councils have to operate within constraints set by Parliament, the differences between Lib Dem and Green local policies is minimal. Locally some Lib Dem and Green Councillors already work together to get Tory and Labour dominated councils to act with greater environmental responsibility. Caroline Lucas should be encouraging more and closer co-operation, not making it more difficult.

Nationally the Lib Dems are part of the Coalition Government which could last 5 years. She should know better than to attack the very much smaller party in the Coalition for not getting all of its own way. The Lib Dem influence on coalition policy is far greater than the Lib Dem share of MPs. This is in large part because those MPs have a large core of thinking activists behind them and a much greater share of the popular vote than their share of the seats. Caroline should be encouraging Lib Dems to remain in the party and back their MPs attempts to get even more Lib Dem policies into Government Policy. An exodus of Lib Dem supporters would make it more difficult to reign in right wing Tory policies and bring in Lib Dem social and environmental policies.

Being part of a coalition could eventually be a way into government for the Greens, but not as long as they are unable to contemplate compromise.

No Caroline. Climate Change is an urgent problem. We cannot wait for A Green Party Government to mend things. I will continue my membership of the Liberal Democrats, and it Green Lib Dems group which promotes environmentalism within the party and helps it remain the greenest major political party in both words and actions.

Steve Bolter is a member of the Green Liberal Democrats Executive and a former Braintree District Councillor.

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23 Comments

  • Grammar Police 14th Sep '11 - 4:50pm

    I think Caroline’s “call” is odd for a number of reasons.

    If thousands of Lib Dems defeted her party would effectively cease to be the Green Party as its membership currently understands it – they are too small to withstand a substantial influx. As Jo says, there are differences between the Green Party and Liberal Democrats – the main one being that the former are not a liberal party, and their activists tend towards the extreme left on issues outside of the environment.

    Steve’s article indirectly touches on the inconsistencies in Caroline’s approach when it comes to coalition. She could do worse than heed the words of former Green Party principal speaker, Dr Mike Woodin, that she herself quoted in her obituary of him:

    “The ideal is rarely, if ever, an option and, as we are discovering in Oxford, where we have left the luxury of opposition behind, the art of being successful greens in power lies in knowing when to settle for what can be achieved rather than holding out for more and failing to get anything.”

  • Like many Liberals I have spent the whole of my adult life in political opposition. It is a comfortable position from which to view life, and it is tempting now that we are having to sup with the devil to join a party that still has the luxury of oppositional purity. But it would be like choosing to be an adolescent all your life: the coalition, even though we all hate it at times, gives us the opportunity we have worked for all our lives to actually achieve some of the things that matter to us. Come this time in 2015 we may be standing amongst the ruins of our party cursing the leadership for what they inflicted on us; or alternatively perhaps the electorate will have rewarded us for our courage and our track record in preventing the excesses of Toryism. Either way we will have spent five years in the adult political world, taking tough decisions, probably making serious mistakes, but hopefully improving the world to some degree in ways that would not have happened but for our presence in government.

  • My views are basically those of Mark Thompson and of Grammar Police. There are reasons why she is wrong but I don’t think simply the size of her party is a good option. When we had the leader of the Pirate Party posting on here people were arguing that they should form a wing of the LDs and I personally disagreed, even with a party without any elected representatives in the UK, for the reasoning set out by Mark Thompson. These reasons apply even more to the Greens.

    I also liked David Grace’s post.

    @jo

    Regarding point no 2 – he’s employing rhetoric rather than a logical position in that section. Can’t say I approve but I can’t say I’d imagine that he thinks that’d ever happen or thinks it’d be good for Lucas if it did. Regarding no 3 – there’s probably a very significant overlap actually.

    Personally I have a few issues with Green policies that make me a bit iffy with them (I believe that, I think the EU is a good thing particularly for the environment and that the Green policy on animal testing is scientifically illiterate) but many Greens would fit in quite nicely on the left wing of the Lib Dems, and a certain kind of left wing Lib Dem would fit in quite nicely in the Greens. There’s overlap between almost all political parties, I even know someone who’s a Green/Conservative swing voter, which is one of the most unlikely combinations.

  • The Lib Dems need to check Lucas’ record and the mistakes the Greens are making running Brighton Council and use it for ammo.

    She still lives in Brussels and is often spotted heading off on Eurostar on Thursday nights. She to the constituency once a week and just rents a room in a members house.

    Their first action after taking control? To evict a group of Travellers!

    They’ve handed the council’s communications/advertising to a multi national company instead of using local providers, evicted tenant farmers from council owned farms and approved the building of a car park on the south Downs. The list of mistakes goes on…

  • “I am even sadder that Caroline’s lust for power has overtaken her commitment to the environmental cause.”

    Very amusing considering Huhne’s new found love for nuclear power and the coming u turn on planning.

    Best not look at the polls, boundary review or May’s elections when you attempt to bully a small party based on number of MPs or councillors.

  • Luke Walter 15th Sep '11 - 8:05am

    P, your post is potentially libelous. Caroline lives and owns a property in Brighton with her family. The property resides in the Preston Park ward. If you have heard the myth that she lives in Brussels from a third party, then it is wrong and you should correct said individual. If this is your own invention, then I would advise you to retract it.

  • john stevens 15th Sep '11 - 10:05am

    David Grace is absolutely right.

  • John Roffey 15th Sep '11 - 4:17pm

    Although there has been some doubt about global warming, generally the critics have been silenced.

    This must rank amongst the most important criticisms:

    Nobel prize winner for physics in 1973 Dr. Ivar Giaever resigned as a Fellow from the American Physical Society (APS) on September 13, 2011 in disgust over the group’s promotion of man-made global warming fears. Climate Depot has obtained the exclusive email Giaever sent titled “I resign from APS” to APS Executive Officer Kate Kirby to announce his formal resignation.

    Dr. Giaever wrote to Kirby of APS: “Thank you for your letter inquiring about my membership. I did not renew it because I cannot live with the (APS) statement below (on global warming): APS: ‘The evidence is incontrovertible: Global warming is occurring. If no mitigating actions are taken, significant disruptions in the Earth’s physical and ecological systems, social systems, security and human health are likely to occur. We must reduce emissions of greenhouse gases beginning now.’

    Giaever announced his resignation from APS was due to the group’s belief in man-made global warming fears. Giaever explained in his email to APS: “In the APS it is ok to discuss whether the mass of the proton changes over time and how a multi-universe behaves, but the evidence of global warming is incontrovertible? The claim (how can you measure the average temperature of the whole earth for a whole year?) is that the temperature has changed from ~288.0 to ~288.8 degree Kelvin in about 150 years, which (if true) means to me is that the temperature has been amazingly stable, and both human health and happiness have definitely improved in this ‘warming’ period.”

    Giaever was one of President Obama’s key scientific supporters in 2008. Giaever joined over 70 Nobel Science Laureates in endorse Obama in an October 29, 2008 open letter. In addition to Giaever, other prominent scientists have resigned from APS over its stance on man-made global warming. See: Prominent Physicist Hal Lewis Resigns from APS: ‘Climategate was a fraud on a scale I have never seen…Effect on APS position: None. None at all. This is not science’

    More at:

    http://climaterealists.com/?id=8339

  • Steve Bolter 16th Sep '11 - 12:54am

    To Jo: Please read my piece again. I wrote that “There are important differences between Liberal Democrat and Green Party policies”, but I concede that as I mentioned ALDE, I should have acknowledged the 2 UK Green MEPs.

    To Mark: I did not ask Greens to vote Lib Dem, I suggested Caroline was wrong to ask Lib Dems to desert to the Greens. I have in fact asked Lib Dems to give their second vote to the Greens in a multi seat Ward which had one Lib Dem and one Green candidate. The Greens did not have the resources to put out a leaflet and so did not reciprocate. it gave the Greens about 400 votes.

    To Double Dip: A few years ago I spoke to Chris Huhne about nuclear power. He was not emotionally or doctrinally opposed to nuclear power, he merely did not think it was the right solution to our energy needs at that time. I do not think he loves it now. I think he has come to the conclusion that, given the current circumstances, building another generation of nuclear fission power stations would less dangerous than trying to exclude them from the energy mix.

  • John Roffey 16th Sep '11 - 5:54am

    @ Simon Oliver

    Not being a scientist, I generally keep out of the global warming debate, as I recognise this is an extremely complex issue. However, I also know that matters that are complex are treated by the scientific community as ongoing – that is to say the current accepted theory is always open to debate, hence IG’s:

    “In the APS it is ok to discuss whether the mass of the proton changes over time and how a multi-universe behaves, but the evidence of global warming is incontrovertible? The claim (how can you measure the average temperature of the whole earth for a whole year?) is that the temperature has changed from ~288.0 to ~288.8 degree Kelvin in about 150 years, which (if true) means to me is that the temperature has been amazingly stable, and both human health and happiness have definitely improved in this ‘warming’ period.”

    Given this fundamental reversal of long established practice – my suspicions are raised. I had previously thought that the huge investments in wind and solar power seem inappropriate in the UK where neither wind nor sun can be relied upon, I also know that significant progress had been made on wave power [particularly appropriate for an island such as Britain] and this had been built upon by the ‘Duck’ system which improved the earlier work.

    The predictions by the climate change community for the most dire outcomes has lengthened over time as different elements within the current model had been proved to be false but it is the:

    ‘The evidence is incontrovertible: Global warming is occurring. If no mitigating actions are taken, significant disruptions in the Earth’s physical and ecological systems, social systems, security and human health are likely to occur. We must reduce emissions of greenhouse gases beginning now.’

    no doubt that enforced hurried decisions to be made at great cost to our already stricken economy. Had greater time been available our coal fired power stations could have continued until the wave power system had been available – all provided by British industry.

    The suspicion is that large profits have been made at the expense of the nation’s economy through deception, by persons unnamed.

  • Andrew Wimble 16th Sep '11 - 8:54am

    This post seems to be saying do not vote Green even if you believe in what they stand by because they lack political power. Isn’t this exactly the same thing that Labour and the Tories have been saying about the Lib Dems for years ? I can think of several good reasons for not voting green, but party size is not one of them.

  • Look at the Green Party’s record in Ireland! We’ve stopped many of the excess of the Tories, but the Greens were happy to go along with FF in cutting health care for the over 70s, benefits for the under 25s. Most shamefully they appear to have participated in a government that colludes in rendition flights. What has happened to the Green Party’s objection to ‘growth’ they are taking part in demos for growth!

  • Interesting to find so many supporters of David Grace on economics – I must be “one of those left wing LDs” talked of by Dunkhan. It seems to me the veryreason we are struggling politically is because we have been too submissive to markets – we need more dirigisme oin our economic policy, and we wouldn’t now be involved in this mess along with George Osborne. The world has needed a new economic / environmental policy for many years. We should have been in the van of this – not timidly backing turbocapitalists like Osborne!

  • No problem Luke Walter, I’ll contact the Brighton Argus and ask them to correct their story for you, you know the one…

    http://www.theargus.co.uk/news/8862975.Brighton_MP_defends_decision_to_keep_family_home_200_miles_away/

  • John Roffey 16th Sep '11 - 4:22pm

    @ Tim13

    Well said. The fundamental threat to the environment, generally, is that the global population has tripled since WW2 – which clearly puts ever increasing strains on all aspects of the environment. This coupled to a global free market which requires the, ever expanding, global corporations to keep returning improved results means the the global economy has to keep growing.

    This leads to increasingly ruthless behaviour, the cutting of labour costs and the margins of suppliers and the grotesque working conditions of the overseas suppliers of companies like Primark and the electronic giants – Foxconn springs to mind.

    Ever continuing growth is not possible and, as we must deduce from the, highly unusual, temporary injection of liquidity by the central banks – we are on the edge of collapse.

    The global free market is, by definition, too intertwined and the only real hope for the future is for nations to decouple from this monster, so that they can manage there economies independently and so that one nation’s difficulties do not cause the downfall of others through a domino effect. With this threat removed, turbocapitalism would loose its dominance and a more realistic level of economic activity would be possible – and perhaps time to focus on how the global population can be reduced or at least contained.

  • at last, one of the real unspoken truths about the threat we pose to the environment is mentioned! There are too many of us, we consume too much. And what do we do? Our religions seek to control bodies to ensure that more and more of the ‘faithful’ are born and our govt pays people to have children.

    madness.

  • “Caroline Lucas is wrong”.

    Yup.

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