Goodbye Theresa: UK Green news round up week 21
Greens respond to Theresa May’s resignation
After a premiership almost unparalleled in its chaos and incompetence, Theresa May finally announced her departure date this week. In a farewell speech complete with crocodile tears, May confirmed she will be stepping down on June 7. Leading figures in the UK’s Green Parties have responded to her departure. And there was no love lost.
Green MP Caroline Lucas responded on Twitter:
While May was almost uniquely ill-equipped to be negotiator we needed, truth is she was given impossible job
You can’t achieve a hard Brexit & avoid hard border in N. Ireland, & no new PM can achieve it either
— Caroline Lucas (@CarolineLucas) May 24, 2019
Green Party in Northern Ireland leader Clare Bailey suggested that the problems with the current government go deeper than Theresa May. She argued that Northern Ireland secretary should also leave office:
My only hope is that when Theresa May departs, she takes Secretary of State Karen Bradley with her.
And Green MSP Ross Greer hit out at May’s incompetence, racism and cruelty:
May was racist and cruel but we've seen both of those traits in other modern Prime Ministers.
What sets her apart was the incompetence and stunning indecision, symbolised by invoking Article 50 & triggering the countdown months before having any idea what she wanted.
— Ross Greer (@Ross_Greer) May 24, 2019
Green activist attacked in Bristol
On polling day for the European elections, a Green Party activist Chris Millman was attacked outside Bristol Temple Meads station. Millman was handing out leaflets to the public for the European election. Speaking to the Bristol Post, Millman said:
He walked quickly up to me, grabbed the lapels of my jacket and threw me backwards to the ground
The attack happened in the context of a febrile environment surround British politics at the moment. Reports of similar attacks were reported during the recent local elections.
Caroline Lucas part of massive demand for parliament to divest its pension fund from fossil fuels
This week, more than a third of MPs called for the UK parliament’s pension fund to sever its investments in fossil fuels. The calls are under the banner of the Divest Parliament campaign, which is part of the international fossil free movement. The movement calls for major institutions, such as universities, pension funds and faith organisations to end their investments in the fossil fuel industry, to starve it of its moral license to operate.
One of the MPs who joined the Divest Parliament calls this week was Caroline Lucas. Speaking on the campaign, she said:
It’s time MPs joined the majority of UK universities, numerous faith groups and a growing number of local authorities in saying we can no longer use our pension funds to gamble with people’s lives and with the future of the planet.
The climate emergency demands that all pension funds divest from fossil fuels and invest in positive solutions to the climate crisis.
Greens accused of trying to overthrow capitalism
This week saw a lesser spotted media phenomenon occur. The amusing attack piece on the Green Party. Published in City AM, and written by former Conservative councillor and writer for Conservative Home Harry Phibbs, the piece was headlined: “The extremist Green Party is trying to overthrow capitalism”.
In the article, Phibbs accused Caroline Lucas of being “a long-standing supporter of the oppressively Marxist regime in Venezuela”, and alleged that “cheerleading for totalitarian regimes is the norm” among Greens.
He goes on to advocate for the views espoused by the Property and Environment Research Centre, an organisation which he claims “champions free market environmentalism”. Greenpeace USA has described the organisation as a “Koch-funded climate denial front group.”
Passing of the mayoral torches
Green lord mayor of Bristol Cleo Lake’s term in office came to an end this week, as she passed over the duties to the Liberal Democrats’ Jos Clark. After serving in the role for a year’s term, she said:
I have seen and believe that Bristol is a two-tone city. It is black and white and everything in between. It is ancient and modern, new and old. It is able bodied and disabled. It is gay and straight and everything in between. It is male and female and everything in between. It is vegan and locally sourced hand reared meat eating and everything in between. It is all of these things and more – our diversity is our strength.
This city was, is and can continue to be a leading city, whether that’s engineering, creativity, sustainability, tech, race relations or equalities. Innovation is our blueprint.
Her fellow councillors praised her time in the role. Labour councillor Ruth Pickersgill said:
Every time you go out and represent us you’re giving a clear message about diversity and equality and I’ve watched your commitment and your incredibly busy schedule and been amazed at how many events you’ve fitted into each day, and how easily you communicate with people from all backgrounds and make them feel included.
Your principled stand on anti-racism and your commitment not to collude with historical oppression and to challenge the shameful aspects of our city’s history has been a positive example to everyone.
While Lake leaves her mayoral duties behind her, new Green lord mayors are stepping in the first days in the role. On May 13, Craig Simmons become Oxford’s second Green lord mayor, following his partner Elise Benjamin’s time in the role from 2011-12. And in Brighton & Hove, Alex Phillips has become the city’s youngest ever lord mayor.