The Ecology Party originated in Coventry in 1973 with four people involved in the ‘survivalist’ movement, not exactly a bastion of left-wing thought for ‘watermelons’. This group put up candidates under the title of ‘PEOPLE’ at the two general elections in 1974, picking up about four and a half thousand votes the first time and just under two thousand the second time, between the candidates which they fielded. The name change to the Ecology Party came shortly afterwards and although it had marginal levels of support nationally, it still had enough to entitle it to a party political broadcast in advance of the 1979 and 1983 general elections.
Where, when and why the Ecology Party originated hasn’t really been examined that much. With hindsight it might seem odd that a city whose economy was dominated by the motor industry should give birth to a political party opposing it, but then it could be seen as a reaction to that (although the same city had the world’s first bicycle factory). It should have been obvious that none of the mainstream parties locally would accommodate any opposition to domination by large employers. The Labour Party had run Coventry as a one-party state since prior to the Second World War, the Tories were not going to do anything against big business whilst the Liberals locally were as they continued to be, virtually non-existent.
The Ecology Party’s ‘small is beautiful’ ideology might seem the embodiment of parochial parish-pump politics, but its ethos was that of opposing large corporations, state-owned (eg British Leyland) or privately-owned (Chrysler, GEC), the big state and the trade union bloc vote. It is important to remember that the Ecology Party was not a socialist party, if anything it leant more towards promoting individual initiative. So why didn’t these ecologists become involved in the Liberal Party, which in the 1950’s / 1960’s could have accommodated their views?
What was significant about 1973 was that the UK joined the EEC, at the time something believed by most of the electorate to be merely a trading bloc. That it was a Tory government (with a few dissenters) which did this was not surprising, as big business was always going to be the major beneficiary. Not surprisingly also at the time was that most opposition came from within the Labour Party and the trade union movement, as they foresaw what came to pass, an enlarged labour market leading to downward pressure on living standards. The Liberal Party was heavily in favour of the EEC and that is why it could not accommodate the views of those who formed the Ecology Party, as the latter were honourably opposed to the EEC.
Globally, the most significant political event of 1973 was the Arab-Israeli war which led to the Arab oil embargo and the creation of OPEC. This more than anything focused public opinion on the importance of long-term alternatives to oil, hence the time was opportune for a political party singularly dedicated to ecology to be started. If the ecologists were ‘hippies’ as some claimed and still do, then the Ecology Party would have been started five or six years earlier, but by 1973 the hippy ‘movement’, if it can be called that, was discredited. Handing out flowers did not defeat Richard Nixon.
So how did the Ecology Party change? With a rebranding exercise in 1985, to follow the success of Die Grünen, who themselves had started out of the protests against US nuclear weapons being sited in West Germany. The assimilation of left-wing views into the Green Party came with the crossover in the membership of CND with those of the left and the co-operation between any organisations which were considered to be ‘anti-Tory’. Where the assimilation of left-wing views into the Green Party might be considered as ‘infiltration’ came following the collapse of the Soviet Union, when ‘socialism’ became a hard brand to sell. ‘Green-Left’ crossover groups developed but these in themselves do not explain the Green Party’s current love affair with what became the European Union (EU) as the genuine (classical) left was and still is opposed to it.
The answer is more rooted in the structure of the EU ‘parliament’ into ‘groupings’, such that nationally-based political parties fighting on issues important for their respective electorates become redundant. The Green Party has become ‘Europeanised’. Some may say that this is just adapting to new conditions, but in doing so it has betrayed its Ecology Party origins by supporting the very continental superstate which it ought to oppose. There are of course other reasons. Most politicians are driven by personal ambition and those in the Green Party leadership have found the European stage difficult to resist. They have become part of the political establishment, supportive of supranational dictatorship where it suits their ends. So in order to get certain ‘green’ directives issued by the European Commission, the Green Party and the others in its ‘grouping’ turn a blind eye to the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) which the Green Party has always claimed to oppose; but which fundamentally it cannot oppose whilst it supports the EU, because the CAP is one of the foundation stones upon which the EU is built.
The most disturbing trend within the Green Party and which has now become dominant within it, is that of control. This is where the influence of the hard (regressive) left has been felt and this is where the Green Party’s enthusiasm for the EU has come from. Genuine ecologists recognise that local people are usually the best custodians of their local environment; not always but they ought to be consulted, not ordered about. Genuine ecologists also recognise that ecology is best managed from the bottom up, not dictated to from the top down. Genuine ecologists support international co-operation, not supranational dictatorship. The Green Party, like all the ‘green’ NGO’s financed by the EU, supports supranational dictatorship, where every aspect of every individual’s life must be controlled, from car usage to what light bulbs one is permitted to buy.
The Green Party, even after it had been rebranded from the Ecology Party continued to support the principal of national sovereignty, indeed the Scottish Green Party supported genuine independence (not the SNP’s oxymoronic ‘independence within the EU’). However the Green Party has now betrayed its principals by opposing national sovereignty. Whereas a genuine Ecology Party, if one still existed, would recognise that environmental legislation should be the responsibility of national parliamentary democracies; and these, responsive to their respective electorates, negotiate international agreements. But the Green Party’s love for the EU is because it wants ‘environmental’ legislation to be imposed, not negotiated.
Moreover, the Green Party’s anti-democratic polity is perfectly in keeping with that of the EU. A genuine Ecology Party, if one still existed, would recognise the right of every nation state to manage immigration to a level that is environmentally sustainable. The less space and fewer resources per head of population that the country has, the more stringent its immigration restrictions need to be. There are a few within the Green Party who recognise this and who more importantly recognise that a country – any country – has the democratic right, responsive to its electorate, to set appropriate immigration legislation, changing this according to circumstances.
But the majority view within the Green Party is anti-ecology as well as anti-democratic, unwilling to allow immigration policy to be decided by voters who are justifiably concerned by high immigration driven population growth (currently running at an annual level roughly equivalent to a city the size of Coventry) and the loss of green space due to inevitable urban expansion. The Green Party is thus anti-green. This is without getting into any of the economic and cultural issues; suffice to say with regard to the former that the Green Party’s ‘left-wing’ credentials are also spurious, as it supports the unlimited supply of cheap disposable migrant labour for unscrupulous employers and let’s not even talk about how ‘sustainable’ it is supporting mass economic migration. The cultural issues of immigration are only pertinent to ecology if the high birth rate among women in certain immigrant groups is a consequence of their being forbidden the use of contraception should they wish to, but as the Green Party claims to support women’s rights then it should be fully aware of this, as it should be aware of the right of all women not to be raped in a game of ‘Taharrush’.
But the central issue in this referendum is governance, the supremacy of national parliamentary democracy, of which immigration legislation is only a part. By supporting the EU and thus advocating ‘Remain’, the Green Party has shown its true colours as a reactionary anti-independence movement doing the dirty work of Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, the European Commission and the International Monetary Fund in moving towards One World Government with only a veneer of ‘democracy’ and nothing more.
The origins of the Ecology Party are detailed in Dominic Sandbrook’s history book, State of Emergency, The Way We Were; Britain 1970 – 1974, pp 218-219. Tony Whittaker, one of the four founders, was a former Tory activist, whilst Teddy Goldsmith (uncle of Tory MP Zac) united his ‘Movement for Survival’ with the group started by the four.
This is my last blog post before Thursday’s referendum. It was never my intention for this to be a strictly political blog, let alone a ‘Brexit’ one, but we bloggers have fought back against the lies peddled by Project Fear. We are part of broader movement to restore parliamentary democracy and can only make what contribution we can. Thanks to everyone who has read and shared these posts.