In 1973 I helped to found PEOPLE in response to the MIT report Limits to growth. Many influential people who agreed with the MIT warning, thought that a party dedicated to the proposition that on the then current trends, the world was heading for serious trouble, was an unrealistic way of dealing with it. Existing political parties would deal with the problem. (They haven’t)
But we persisted. PEOPLE became the Green Party. Its high point came in 1989, thanks to a blunder by Margaret Thatcher. She saw the danger flagged up by ‘Limits’, and said so in her European election Campaign. The unintended effect was to give the Green Party 15%. Why did we fail to build on that start?
The sensible people who thought a Green Party was an unrealistic proposal were not stupid, but Maggie had not given them the whole story. None of the measures necessary to stave off ecological trouble would be popular. (They still won’t). In particular, they would almost certainly have involved redistribution – taxes on Mrs. Thatcher’s heartlands. Never again did the Green Party get anywhere near 15%.
I saw the by-election in Batley & Spen as a possible re-creation of the situation in 1973. Despite massive evidence of ecological damage we did not have in 1973, (or even in 1989), governments in 2021 are still not doing enough. My recent weblog posts outline my thinking and strategy. But neither the national nor the local party shared my vision. I Iived in Batley for 46 years, and had stood fof the Green Party in more than one election, but my offer to stand was blanked. Perhap they were right. But be that as it may, I cannot repeat too often that what should be the main preoccupation of all national governments was not even mentioned. Or was it?
There were 17 candidates in the Batley & Spen by-election, one of whom was Mike Davies, of the Alliance for Green Socialism. He came 9th, polling 104 votes, 0.28%.
The Green Party polled 692 in 2019. I never got less than 600 votes even in the days when climate breakdown was no more than a theoretical possibility, not a daily newsreel reality. But if my fate was similar to that of Mike Davies, we would at least have confirmation that all those sensible voices were right all along. But were they? Existing political parties are still not interested in what is necessary.
9th August 2021: In the ‘red light’ warnings of the IPCC report published today, I am extremely angry that the so-called ‘Green Party’ blocked my attempt to make climate breakdown the central issue in a parliamentary election.