General Election 2015: Environmental campaigners back Caroline Lucas to retain the Green Party's only seat

Lucas is defending the tightly-contested Brighton Pavilion seat

Tom Bawden
Monday 20 April 2015 14:54
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The Green Party's Caroline Lucas is defending the Brighton Pavilion seat
The Green Party's Caroline Lucas is defending the Brighton Pavilion seat

Leading figures in the environmental movement, including Jonathon Porritt and three other former directors of Friends of the Earth, have launched a campaign to help the Green Party retain its only parliamentary seat.

Mr Porritt, a former chairman of the Green Party, is joined in his call for voters to re-elect Caroline Lucas to her tightly contested Brighton Pavilion seat by Tony Juniper, Charles Secrett and Tom Burke. “In our view it’s absolutely crucial that Caroline Lucas is re-elected,” declared the four campaigners, who are also planning to canvass for Ms Lucas in the coming weeks.

“Over the last five years, Caroline has eloquently addressed many of today’s most pressing sustainability issues while other parties have largely ignored them. From accelerating climate change to sustainable farming and from human rights to a just and sustainable economy, she has been a clear and vital voice,” they said.

“This leadership matters all the more at a time when the mainstream parties are finding it so hard to address these challenges properly. Having MPs like her in Parliament is not only good for the environment but good for democracy too.”


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Their words echo a call from a group of leading academics and campaigners for all parties to stop virtually ignoring climate change and set out clear plans for the evacuation of flood-prone cities should it become necessary and move to a fossil-fuel free economy.

One of the group, Professor Peter Wadhams, of the University of Cambridge, singled out Caroline Lucas as being by far the most effective MP in Parliament when it came to championing the need to tackle climate change.

“I think she stands apart from the other MPs – I admire what she is doing and has been for some time, saying and doing the right things in terms of climate change,” Prof Wadhams told i.

Ms Lucas was named MP of the Year last year in recognition of her work standing up for minority and deprived communities. However, the race for re-election is a closely-fought contest with Labour opponent Purna Sen which experts say has been made more difficult for Ms Lucas because of the unpopularity of Brighton & Hove’s council, which is also Green.

Green Party leader Natalie Bennett has never been an MP

The council has been mired in internal disputes, responsible for a prolonged period of disruption in bin collection as workers took industrial action, and troubled by a sharp decrease in recycling despite promising a significant increase. Although council functions such as rubbish collection are totally separate from the duties of the local MP, experts believe the problems have made it harder for Ms Lucas to get re-elected.

“Part of Labour’s campaigning has been to link Caroline with the council which can obviously be damaging,” Mr Porritt said.

“Having broken through the wretched electoral system it would be a significant blow if the Green Party was to lose its only MP – that would be serious,” Mr Porritt added.

Mr Juniper acknowledged that it was not particularly surprising that four high profile environmental campaigners should back a Green Party MP. But he said he hoped their endorsement could still prove helpful because they have steered clear of party announcing political allegiances in recent years preferring to focus on their environmental messages.


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