29. 04. 2010

Green issues are sidelined as the Big Party Circus rolls on

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It’s certainly a more exciting election than any I can remember for years. But it’s a bit of a nightmare from a sustainability point of view.

The party manifestos themselves are OK – a considerable improvement on the 2005 manifestos. Out of the three major parties, you’d have to put the Liberal Democrats way out in front (as usual), if only because of the way in which they spread the ‘green content’ through the entire manifesto rather than having the usual ‘green section’ with everything else around it pretty grey and grim.

But beyond the manifestos, there’s been next to nothing on either climate change or wider green issues. The parties had a brief moment set aside to go through their green motions, but without any seriousness of intent whatsoever. Gordon Brown was there to launch a separate Labour green manifesto, but devoted almost all of his entire speech to yet another lacklustre rant against David Cameron. It’s never been his strong suit, as we all know, and Labour’s whole election campaign has made that very clear all over again.

We shouldn’t be too surprised at this, simply because it has always been like this. It could have been different this time around, given all the serious political interest in climate change over the last few years. But then Copenhagen crashed, scientists started messing up all over the place, and our wretched rightwing media seized their moment to intensify their promotion of the near-bonkers babbling of Nigel Lawson, Ian Plimer et al. And all that pretty much blew any prospect of climate change featuring in any serious way in this election.

Happily, beyond the Big Party Circus, there’s an astonishing foment of political activity going on elsewhere, touching on every conceivable aspect of sustainable development territory. I’ll be focusing on one or two of these over the next week or so.

If your principal concern is about policies, instead of personalities and presidential debates, then the Vote for Policies initiative has thrown up some fascinating findings. If you go onto their website you’ll be asked to compare policies in nine main areas without being told which political party they come from – and then you are asked to ‘vote’ for the policy you prefer. The parties those policies belong to are then revealed to you.

It’s highlighted the general popularity of Green Party policies. At the last count, it was ahead on 26% with Labour on 19%, the Lib Dems on 18%, Conservatives on 16%, and UKIP and BNP bumping along at the bottom.

What’s astonishing me, looking at voters’ preferences, is how well the Green Party did on other policy issues apart from the environment: top on education, health, crime and welfare, and second (behind the Lib Dems) on democracy and the economy.

I’m not sure how much that will help Green Party candidates on the ground – but there could be a few surprises here too. I was in Cambridge on Tuesday, when a local poll put the Green Party’s Tony Juniper ahead of all the other parties! A win for the Greens in Cambridge would be one of the biggest election shocks of all time!

Caroline Lucas, Green Party Leader and candidate in Brighton still has the best overall chance of being the first Green Party candidate to beat our despicable first-past-the-post system. I’ll be down in Brighton on Saturday – so more on this next week!

I'll be blogging every day in the run up to the election so watch this space.

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12. 07. 2010
David Edwards

I have just read your article on limiting populations.
I have been writing on this topic for forty years and I can assure you that it is a waste of time and energy. Bob Brown and co must have dozens of my emails and attachments on the subject - ask him for a copy or let me have your email address and I will send them to you.
I realise you were a founder member of the Greens but the party is now full of those having misplaced idealism. Apart from encouraging breeding like animals they also want to flood this country with immigrants. There is only one pollution and that is people. Reduce the number of people and you reduce everything that is causing global warming.

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