The Green Party: Conservation without development

The Green Party has a rather unconventional foundation which started in 1972 with the publication of an article in an issue of Playboy magazine on the subject of overpopulation. At first they were called the PEOPLE party and after an internal debate they renamed themselves the Ecology Party in 1975. They later became the Green Party when it was decided to make themselves sound more in line with green politics and so they became the Green Party in 1985. Like the three major parties they operate in divisions for their respective countries. In 1990 the Scottish and Northern Ireland wings of the Green Party broke away from the English and Welsh divisions of the party and since then the main Green Party has become known as the Green Party of England and Wales. As for the ideology of the Green Party they stand for green politics and eco-socialism. Now green politics isn’t actually a single policy theory, it’s actually about creating an ecological sustainable society rooted in environmentalism, non-violence, social justice, and grassroots democracy. Basically it’s something that appeals to hippies and anti-capitalists who appreciate basic material security like food and warmth without any profligacy. Grassroots democracy is about designing political processes where the decision-making is focused on the lowest geographical level of organisation. That means that the powers that be for the community is made by a local government instead of a head office, which is likely to be a central government or representation in an assembly or parliament. Eco-socialism is a merger of socialism and liberal socialism with that of green politics. It’s a bit like a Marxist waving a green flag in the name of environmental concerns rather than that of the working classes like ordinary socialism.

The story about the formation of the party from a Playboy magazine might sound quite bizarre, but it actually happened as an inspirational quirk of motivation. A surveyor and property agent called Lesley Whittaker read an interview with an American biologist called Paul R. Ehrlich about overpopulation and how he and his wife had given up the rat race because they believed that the Earth was going to run out of resources to feed mankind because there were too many people to feed. As a space geek and a scientist I can see where he is right. Have you ever wondered why your grocery shopping has got too high over the last 70 years and why your fuel bills are going through the roof? Overpopulation is a very crucial factor in the cost of food and this was something that Ehrlich was actively vocal about during his career as a scientist. Well Whittaker was inspired by this story and went to her husband Tony, who was a former councillor for the Conservatives. They formed a group called ‘Club of Thirteen’ which first met on 13 October 1972, hence the name. A few weeks later they called themselves ‘PEOPLE’ and started operating as a political party. PEOPLE stood for their first general election in February 1974 with a manifesto focusing on ecological specific policies and environmental issues. They were probably the first of a kind of consumerised politics where instead of following a philosophy to stand for they abide by a set of rules focusing on ideas influenced by culture, society and popular issues. A trend that is currently going today by the way several voters are feeling dissuaded by the mainstream parties as they have been in power for too long with alternating ideas that keep getting sidelined by their internal disputes when they are in power. That’s why several of their policies have been backtracked on like the rise in tuition fees and the extensive cuts in public services. The government have to be decisive about where the money goes and where they are going to get money.

Like UKIP, SNP and Plaid Cymru the Green Party are a single policy centric party with a focus on environmental and green issues. They currently have just one MP in the House of Commons called Caroline Lucas, and the party itself is run by Australian born Natalie Bennett. Single policy parties are often seen as a minority in government that can make or break a majority share for one of the three major parties like Conservatives, Labour and Liberal Democrats. The Greens have only been around for 25 years in their current form and their members are a reflection in the nature of the party. Most of them are eco-activists, hippies, homosexuals, bisexuals, feminists, socialists, health campaigners and ex-Labour and Lib Dem members. These kinds of parties are known more widely for their individual characteristics rather than their political philosophies. But they don’t really have a philosophy at their core, they are a political force for one central core policy that is tailored to the subject of environmentalism. In the case of public transport the Green Party wants to take the trains, busses and planes into public ownership to stop the fares from going up year by year. That policy also includes encouraging people to cycle and walk more often to work and in effect that will mean that the public transport networks will be restricted to taking fewer passengers and cuts in essential road and rail building programmes leaving the people at the mercy of out of date trains running on rusty rails.

I don’t agree with single policy centric parties. They are not caring enough towards the people as their ideas focus too much on their own beliefs. The Greens in particular believe that the planet or the country is draining itself on it’s own resources and needs to conserve it’s resources to sustain it’s existence. Part of that need for conservation is to use ecological means of living to promote the well-being of communities and services. However in order for their policies to work it involves sacrificing certain aspects of the country and the people’s way of life which can have a disastrous effect on their own mission. This is a typical example of hypocrisy. One of the Green Party’s members is the famous fashion designer Vivienne Westwood. She supports the Greens because she believes in the survival of culture, which is being suppressed by consumerism and by supporting ecology based principles there is a way in which we can ensure the survival of our culture. However as a businesswoman with a clothing empire, which is built on consumption from big profits she needs capitalist business practices in order to make her fortune. Now that is something that is totally unrealistic for a political campaign. How can she make her riches when consumption is vital to her business?

The Green Party are a force for good for ecological issues and mainstream society and I can see where they stand on these issues, but I don’t see a political party of scientific and ecological ethics standing as a representative of the country. Most scientists are not very keen in working as politicians themselves because of the bureaucratic nature of the system. They’d rather reject authority and distance themselves from their ‘selfish eccentric nature’ where they side-line the scientists as tools to their politics and so it makes the politicians look like they achieved something for society, but in reality all the scientists have done for their paymasters is establish a system that works only for one type of agenda. Even as a scientist myself I don’t agree with a single policy centric party like the Greens. The way I say them is that they are only a force for a cause that is designed to make ordinary people suffer with a backward society where we can’t progress. If I had an idea for a new consumer product they wouldn’t let me make it without being sure that it wouldn’t leave a pile of wasted material.

They are not very keen on energy development neither, like the development of fracking natural shale gas from deep underground which has the potential to make Britain self-sufficient for many years. Several members of the Green Party like Caroline Lucas have been arrested protesting at potential fracking sites. Now how can they as a party of ecology and conservation be good enough for Britain? They don’t understand that the population of Britain and economic development requires energy to survive. The Greens have a mutual disagreement with fracking alongside other political parties like the SNP and Plaid Cymru, parties which have strong social democratic values like the New Labour government. Now New Labour have already stripped vast quantities and production output of our power supplies to foreign lands and green technologies which not all that reliable. Consider wind turbines, which have become a headache for property developers and landscapes. Now wind turbines are considered to be modern day windmills that produce electric power. However as a scientist I can tell you they have a fatal flaw in power generation. When you put them in remote windy locations they become difficult to maintain and thus rot and lose the ability to produce power. Even the offshore plants require too much tender loving care, in effect you are spending more on producing electricity than profiting from it. Also if the winds are too strong the power generators within them burn out from overheating and explode. As a scientist I support eco-technology but I find wind turbines to be the ‘budget furniture’ of green technology. For me the ultimate and best green technology is wave technology. Take a look at the vast amount of energy that can be tapped from the North Atlantic Current where a surge of water generated from the Gulf Stream pushes itself towards Northern Europe and then turns down towards the eastern shorelines of Britain creating a storm surge. Surges like this were responsible for the 1953 flood of the east coast flooding the low lying areas of the Thames Estuary and East Anglia, which prompted the building of the Thames Barrier. Now with the power of surges in the North Sea we can tap this using wave technology to generate electrical power that can power almost the entire east coast of England.

However I do see a very good side to the Greens which makes them a force for good. As they support local government and public involvement, I find that as a Conservative voter they have a mutual interest in cutting the size of central government and distributing freedom of fair trade. In fact the Conservatives have already made sweeping changes in local government since coming to power. Bristol, Liverpool and Leicester are joining London to get their own mayor, neighbourhoods have been given greater powers to do things for themselves, unnecessary regional bodies have been abolished, and central government have been reduced. I think the country could do less with an oversized Westminster and allow the local boroughs, councils and parishes manage their own affairs. However I want to see the framework of the UK changed so that we have a better and fairer share for the people, society and the economy.

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