Catherine Rowett Caroline Lucas
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Earlier this week, the Green Party of England and Wales had a historic election night. After a similarly unprecedented set of local elections, the Greens won seven seats in the European parliament. One of those seven is Catherine Rowett, who was elected for the East of England region. This made Rowett the first ever Green MEP for the East of England.

Ancient Greece

Rowett’s background is in academia. She has specialised in Ancient Greek culture and philosophy. Her academic career has seen her employed as a researcher and professor at a range of UK universities. This began with posts at Cambridge and Oxford, followed by more senior positions at Swansea, Liverpool and UEA, where she has remained since 2003. (As an undergraduate at UEA, Rowett briefly taught me Plato. Full disclosure – I remember little, other than that the book was called The Republic).

Rowett’s focus in academia has been on the pre-Socratics, Plato and other areas of Ancient Greek philosophy. Widely published and highly regarded in the field, Rowett’s name is behind a number of key texts, including Presocratic Philosophy – A Very Short Introduction, a rethinking of animal rights in ancient philosophy – Dumb beasts and Dead Philosophers: Humanity and the Humane in Ancient Philosophy and Literature – and most recently Knowledge and Truth in Plato: Stepping Past the Shadow of Socrates. 

General Election candidate

Outside of her academic career, Rowett has also played an active political role. As a Norfolk resident, she has stood for office for the Greens in the county in previous General Elections.

In 2015, Rowett contested the South Norfolk constituency, picking up 5.4% of the vote, saving the party’s deposit for the first time ever in the seat. Two years later she fought the constituency again. This time, as smaller parties’ vote share was squeezed across the country, she polled at 2.5%.

Into Europe

After these election defeats, Rowett through her hat in the ring to be the lead Green candidate earlier this year. She came first, beating the favourite, fellow UEA philosophy lecturer into second place and lead candidate in 2009 and 2014 – Rupert Read.

Winning that selection would ultimately lead to her entering the European parliament, as on the night of May 26 she was announced as one of the East of England’s new MEPs.

Upon her selection, she received praise from the Green Party of England and Wales leadership team. Speaking to Bright Green, party co-leader Jonathan Bartley said:

This is a historic result in the East of England. We are seeing something hugely significant both in the UK and with a green wave across Europe. Catherine will make an amazing MEP.

And Amelia Womack also told Bright Green: 

While campaigning with Catherine her passion for the Eastern region and its future in Europe was clear. I have no doubt that she will be a formidable force in the European Parliament.