Here’s a question for you.What do Berinsfield Ward in Oxfordshire and Forest Row Ward in the depths of Sussex have in common?
First, they are both in Districts with overwhelming Conservative majorities – the sort of District where you weigh the Conservative votes rather than count them. Second, they are also in areas where the Green Party has made surprising advances which should send a shiver through the Conservative Party.
Now, of course, we need to retain some perspective on this. In Berinsfield Ward in the 2007 district elections the Green candidate came a very distant third after two Conservative candidates won by a landslide. But he did beat Labour and the Liberal-Democrats. In Forest Row, the District Council now has two Green councillors.
Perceived wisdom is that we shouldn’t worry about the Greens because they just take votes from the Liberal-Democrats. Not so. In both wards they clearly took from the Conservatives as well and in Berinsfield Ward (a two seat ward) there were split votes – Conservative + Green.
You can, of course, point in each case to specific local circumstances. But for how much longer are we going to make excuses for Green successes? The truth is – ‘they’re coming’ – and it’s all a bit deja vu.
Few voters, of course, read the Green manifesto and the Greens rarely tell us themselves what their policies really are. They play to current fads and fears. They use communal guilt as a weapon. And, they are getting better at putting up credible candidates who work their way into local communities, join all the clubs, found all the village carbon societies (yes – they really do exist!), and generally embed themselves into local communities.
There are two reasons why the Greens put such emphasis on the little things we can do personally to save the climate when the biggest culprit is coal-fired power stations. First, doing so allows the Greens to get close to individual voters even although the carbon-limiting actions we’re encouraged to take often have as much effect as the mass collection of iron railings and gates in the Second World War and are a drop in the ocean
Second, it distracts attention away from the fact that the Greens will never tackle coal-fired power stations because they are ideologically opposed to the only realistic medium-term alternative – nuclear power. Just look to Scotland and the deal between the SNP and the Greens.
The truth is that their agenda is left-wing revolutionary stuff which you would have thought any self-respecting Conservative would have steered away from; not embraced as a split-vote option.
But, just as it is still often difficult to persuade frustrated Conservatives that the Liberals are not a cosy centre-politics party, so it is difficult today to get across the extent of the messianic revolution that the Greens plan.
What the Greens reject are the notions of progress and advancement. Their manifesto states that science should be a ‘cultural’ activity which avoids the ‘rush to explore’ and ‘tempers’ scientific exploration so that it focuses principally on the biosphere and not on things which might be ‘beyond society’s ability to control’. With one stroke of the pen, independence of thought, imagination and the enquiring mind go out the window.
When it comes to lifting the poor out of poverty, there’s no acknowledgement that this will require a massive input of energy which, without either nuclear power or fossil fuels, will not be available. It will require world energy use to increase 2.6 fold by 2030 if developing countries are to reach basic UNDP goals. Not to recognise this condemns much of the world to everlasting poverty and our own children to the backward slide recognised in the Saudi saying: My father rode a camel. I drive a car. My son flies a plane. His son will ride a camel.
This is a re-run of how the Liberal-Democrats came to power. The breeding ground for the Greens is currently very fertile with so much to protest about – large government house-building programmes, infrastructure shortages, congestion and climate change. The attraction of the false dream of a literal back to basics is obvious to see.
But let’s not let history repeat itself.
The time to defeat the Greens is now before they become a threat; not once they’re the second largest party in many parts of the country.