LDV Interview: Caroline Lucas talks about The Alternative Part 3

This week I had the chance to talk to Caroline Lucas, newly elected co-Leader of the Green Party of England and Wales, about the book “The Alternative.” She co-edited the book with Labour MP Lisa Nandy and her erstwhile 2015 Liberal Democrat opponent Chris Bowers. The three will be taking part in a fringe meeting at Conference TODAY at 1pm in the Buckingham suite in the Hilton Metropole. The event is organised by the Social Liberal Forum. Part 1 is available here.

I  wondered if the sense of solidarity that exists between women across politics, partly because we all have to put up with a fairly sexist political culture, could be developed to help the process of cross-party working along:

In my experience generally speaking women tend to be more interested in working together and and finding that common ground not in scoring points. But one of the crucial things is to have confidence building measures at a local level so that some of the very real mistrust between parties can be addressed and, as much as possible, neutralised.

I’m glad she brought that up because we all have that baggage of bad experiences with members of other parties. Many Lib Dems feel pretty bruised by some of the abuse that came our way during the coalition years, especially when we didn’t agree with what was happening.  We do have to get past that, but how do we patch that up?

I agree with you that we have to do it cos the logical consequence of the debate that we’re having is going to end up in  some sort of coalition again. If we write off all coalitions because we didn’t like some of  the aspects of the last one we experienced,  we are cutting off our nose to spite our faces.

She’s read some of Nick Clegg’s book and finds it “refreshingly candid”, where he will say “that was a misjudgement.” “There will be lots of Green supporters who feel angry about tuition fees as others do but, she says, “people have to be allowed to make mistakes and what’s refreshing about the book is that Nick puts it from the perspective of how it seemed to him at the time.” She adds that there are “judgements that people make in good faith that lead to outcomes not anticipated.”

I think we have to give people permission to make mistakes and to think about how we how we move forward together.

The referendum may have delivered a regrettable result, she says, but the process had some beneficial side effects:

It reinforced for a lot of politicians that on something as big as the EU we can agree and that standing side by side to agree on public platforms is more important than trying to keep some kind of party political purity.

On a local level, she was encouraged by what she saw on the ground in her Brighton patch:

There’s no love lost between the Greens and Labour in Brighton. There was a common referendum leaflet between Liberal Democrat, Green and Labour with agreed text, messages and  photographs. We split up the constituencies so that the different parties delivered in their strongest areas. That experience of seeing where it is possible to work together and seeing on a lot of issues there is a fair bit of common ground, that’s the most important thing to be building on.

If there’s anything else you want to ask her, head to the meeting at lunchtime.

The Alternative is published by Biteback Publishing and you can buy it here.

* Caron Lindsay is Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice and blogs at Caron's Musings

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This entry was posted in Op-eds.


  • At least she is mature enough not to slag off Nick Clegg, which seems to be very popular amongst not only the hard left and UKIP, but also many members of our party. We should be showing deference to Nick Clegg, and history will judge him as one of the greatest and bravest politicians of all time to not only achieve high office in the UK, but to walk the world stage.

  • Andrew McCaig 18th Sep '16 - 11:07am

    I think there is a big, big, difference between not slagging off Nick Clegg and “showing him deference”

    He was “brave” in the Yes Prime Minister sense.. He tried to do some good but unfortunately led his Party into very predictable near oblivion. Tuition fees will go down as one of the most obvious and biggest political mistakes of the last 100 years..

    Without some lucky breaks it could take us decades to escape his legacy as a Party…

  • Nick Clegg was subjected to bullying from Ed Miliband and the trade unions on one side, and the reactionary wing of the Tories and UKIP on the other.

    The left wing sought to demonise him for not being a socialist, the right for daring to stand up for the EU and socially liberal values.

    The man was under intense pressure and faced hatred and vitriol from vested interests everywhere. It is not surprising that the general public fell for this rhetoric from the hard left Millibandites and trade unions, and hard right kippers, and punished the Lib Dems.

  • Watching Andrew Marr this morning and it didn’t seem that the the women were interested in working together and finding common ground, Ms. Lucas was lost as the camera focused on Farage and the sun columnist joined in speaking over Ms. Lucas at every chance.

    Of course the start of my comment has the point but it did show how the media is naturally inclined to give airtime to “characters” and those in charge. It would benefit, where we can find common ground, to focus on speaking about that both that common ground as well as where we stand out to ensure an alternative narrative is given a chance.

    With regards to Andrew Marr, how disappointing that the new IDS was given such an easy time when all he could say was the government continue to believe that the best way to make work pay is with a small carrot and a big stick.

  • DJ 18th Sep ’16 – 1:57pm………….With regards to Andrew Marr, how disappointing that the new IDS was given such an easy time when all he could say was the government continue to believe that the best way to make work pay is with a small carrot and a big stick……

    That’s the point at which I went out to mow the lawn….The mower noise was less repetitive than the Tory spin on cutting benefits…

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