Letter: Roots of the Green Party's political failure

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Sir: I was saddened by Lesley Whittaker's article 'Too nice to turn people green' (11 March). Her diagnosis of the sickness within Green Party politics is simple but true, though in my experience anarchy and niceness aren't two qualities which marry comfortably inside the Green Party. Yet there are other reasons why the Green Party's politics have become irrelevant.

I too resigned recently after 10 years of activism, four of which were spent on the party council or executive. During the heady successes of the late Eighties, when Western guilt at the damage being inflicted on our planetary home culminated in 15 per cent of the European Parliamentary vote, I managed the party's international affairs. While David Icke was hearing voices from God I was co-chair and, with five others, formed Green 2000, which aimed to shape the party into one able to address the challenges and opportunities of the time.

We were too late. By the time the Green 2000 structure was approved, the ideological differences between Marxists, anarchists and egotists had torn the party apart. My colleagues and I finally threw in the towel alongside Sara Parkin at the autumn conference. Having striven hard for the ideals of Lesley and Tony Whittaker's PEOPLE of the early Seventies, I conceded defeat. That is why I was saddened by her article.

But Lesley is wrong in believing that change must now come through commerce and industry. Clearly she is working to encourage business away from environmentally damaging methods of production and certainly it is important that industrial management is aware of the vital part it must play. But what of those industries that are not listening, that are more concerned, not unnaturally, to survive the recession and to make a profit?

Take, for instance, the construction firms that will still use tropical hardwoods because they are cheaper than temperate hardwoods; or fridge manufacturers that will use CFCs and other ozone-damaging chemicals while the market and governments permit. These are just two examples of industries that can only afford to stop their unecological practices when government legislation makes it uneconomic to continue.

The old promises of the Government and Opposition that they would care for the environment were abandoned as soon as the Green Party released its pressure on the ballot boxes, yet ecological survival still requires a political solution. We must sell hope and dreams but not without legislation.

Yours faithfully,


Twickenham, Middlesex