Paxton and Prince Albert are well known to fellow Crystal Palace locals. Pubs, monuments and the museum remind us of their role in bringing the Crystal Palace to Hyde Park in 1851, then to Sydenham / Penge in 1854. But next to nothing is known about the firm that manufactured the glass, an incredible feat of industry and innovation. That firm was Chance Brothers, founded and run by my ancestors.
Last autumn I wrote this for somebody perplexed by the term ‘Deep Green’, and why many members of the Green Party felt anxious about its direction. I thought I’d publish my take here for others thinking the same question.
While the Green Party’s electoral success in 40 years has been presentable, our impact on the national political debate has been profound. In considering what influence we can wield and which elections we can win in the era of Corbyn we need to avoid factional delusions.
Ten years ago, it was low energy light bulbs that we used to deflect our responsibility for climate change. Now it’s more often the rich and big business. But fault is hard to ascribe, and can stop us facing some hard truths. David MacKay, in his seminal book Sustainable Energy Without the Hot Air, punctured the light bulb mantra that “every little helps” and posited the more realistic mantra: “if everyone does a little, we’ll achieve only a little.” Changing your light bulbs and turning your TV off at the plug might reduce your emissions by 1%. If everybody does this, it doesn’t add up to a lot. We’d reduce our collective emissions by 1%. Meanwhile, these would-be eco warriors fly to Spain for a holiday. These excuses are still prevalent today. In recent weeks, Guardian readers have worried about plastic use – bags, bottles and packaging. It’s an important…
Tonight I listened to an inspiring group of Brixton residents who are taking the housing crisis into their own hands: setting up a Community Land Trust to build 300 homes for rent, owned by the community and let at rents linked to local incomes. Their challenge, as one board member put it, is to be seen as credible by the powers that be.
The problems with the EU, I was told, are made concrete in the Altiero Spinelli building. The Kipper MEP I was meeting was aghast that the main building of the European Parliament would be named after this Italian communist and passionate European federalist. Perhaps that’s why he didn’t share my worries about the World Trade Organisation, the G8, or the Basel Accords – he didn’t know or care about the names of their buildings.
It is often said by party members that a particular strategy, tactic or policy should be debated at one of the bi-annual conferences. The most obvious recent example is the issue of progressive alliances.
Like most members I believe that the actions and statements of our leadership and senior politicians must be rooted in decisions taken democratically by party structures including conference, the Executive and Regional Council.
But we have to realise that politics isn’t a calm and linear business. You don’t spend two years moving from conference motion A to national strategy B and politician action C and then achieve desired result D.
The word ‘politician’ is often used as an insult. In the popular imagination, politicians are loathsome, lazy liars. But I think they get an unfair rap, cheered on by a cynical media and misleading social media memes.
I’ve been a Green Party member, activist and officer at local, regional and national levels for ten years. But the honour and joy of working full-time for two Green politicians is a rare one in so small a party. So I thought I’d share some lessons from those seven years, things I would never have guessed before I stepped through the doors of City Hall to work in the London Assembly in September 2009. I imagine that there is nothing very special about my experiences here; that similar things could be said of members and politicians in the Labour Party, or Green MEPs. 1. Greens show remarkably little interest in their politicians Once a month members of the London Green Party can quiz their Assembly Members and MEP about their work. But when the opportunity arises, almost nobody asks them a question. Before I worked with them I knew very…