Opinion: What does the Green Alliance want the Lib Dems to do?

I was disappointed once again to hear the Green Alliance slag off the Liberal Democrats – along with all the other political parties – for its record on the environment – arguing that “None of the three main parties are currently showing the vision and courage to prepare the UK for the challenges ahead.” You can read their full report here.

What their critique amounts to is this: that although the Liberal Democrats have always led the field; and although the party has filled in the missing gaps identified previously by the Green Alliance; and although there is nothing “anti-Green” about us that they can identify – and indeed they acknowlege our radical Green energy policy – they accuse us of that catch-all term of “having a low profile”.

What they do not say is what we are supposed to do about it. What they do seem to like to do is always lump the Lib Dems together with the other parties, and they seem to always find a way of doing so.

It would be nice if we did have a higher profile. It is not a deliberate strategy of the party to have a low profile. As far as the media is concerned, the Lib Dems being Green is old news, so they simply don’t report it. As a news issue, being Green seems to be filed under, ‘Maybe important but not interesting’, and therefore gets ignored.

Maybe that doesn’t let Nick Clegg off the hook. He appeared to promise much more during his leadership campaign than he has been able to deliver so far. But that is easy to say. Every Lib Dem leader has this problem. If anyone has any bright ideas about how to improve our profile, then let’s say what they are…

I do have an issue of the Green Alliance being continuously negative about us. First time round it worked because it motivated us to fill in our policy gaps – so that is good work on their part, and a good response on our part.

On the other hand, it would help us if activists in the Green movement who consider themselves to be liberal were actually to join us, and help the Lib Dems develop our policy and improve our profile. When criticism from the Green Alliance stops being constructive and simply adds to the overall sense of inertia within party politics, that simply motivates Green activists not to get involved with any of the political parties. And that makes the situation even worse.

* Geoff Payne is secretary of Hackney Liberal Democrats.

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This entry was posted in Op-eds.


  • Cheltenham Robin 10th Sep '08 - 10:26pm

    Can I suggest we use this quote in our literature:

    Although David Cameron made the environment a “defining issue” in his first 18 months as Tory leader, the groups say his party’s approach has been “strong on presentation and weak on substance”

  • Andrew Porrer 11th Sep '08 - 8:47am

    I agree, although I’m not sure whether the fault is with the reporting or the fact the put in that weaselly cricism of us “Waning leadership” allowing the MSM to say we were all the same. The report also “applauded” us for being “brave and bold”.

    I’ve blogged about it also:

  • So their conclusions are
    a) Labour is rubbish, and so is not good enough;
    b) Cameron is all image, and so is not good enough;
    c) We are well ahead of the others, but we are not racing ever further ahead and so are not good enough.

    Of course, it is often found to be easier to damn everyone who is trying to do something than to get stuck in and do it.

    The question the Green Alliance needs to ask is “As what we believe is so vital to the future of mankind, why are we failing to take the political parties with us and how can we best get involved to take them with us in future?” Now the answer to that would be interesting.

  • I heard the Green Alliance comments reported on Radio 4. I couldn’t think of any green policies the Lib Dems had dropped, rather Nick Clegg had just announced the appollo moon landing for renewable energy.

    It seems a typical self perpetuating “pressure group” not wishing to dirty it’s hands with politics and therefore being “fair” by criticising “everyone”.

    Overall, not very helpful to advancing green policies.

  • Jock Macdonald 13th Sep '08 - 2:53pm

    I shall be voting for Caroline Lucas. Our MEPs put green issues far too low. Sarah Bowles’ recent glossy puts something right at the end, but the less important stuff fills her pages. Martin Tod, our PPC in Winchester, is sound, but ever since Chris Huhne stopped being our Environment spokesman, we seem to have been saying nothing.

    We are losing the plot on something that is going to be even more important in 2009/2010

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