Poking a Hornets` nest…

Well, well, well.  I appear to have stirred up something of a hornets nest in my modest political world.

Following on the heels of a successful conference to celebrate 30 years of the Green Liberal Democrat pressure group within the Liberal Democrats where we discussed with great energy all the things that need to be done to fight against the Trumpian forces destroying the planet we live on and waking the UK electorate to the need to start treating our environment with greater care, I have drafted a resolution which I believe we should be discussing at the next Liberal Democratic Conference in Brighton in September.

It has to be said that in economic policy terms the Liberal Democrats lost their way prior to and during the coalition years – I was in Brazil then and not a party member, so I can happily be absolved of any responsibility for the neo-liberalism of the Clegg years. If in any doubt, you may wish to read some blogs relating back to that time


As I have written before on this Blog I re-joined the Liberal Democrats last year and immersed myself in green activism as before, in the belief that the decimated Party may well now be able to get away from its previous neo-liberal economic stance, which brought the Cleggite Liberal Democrats much TOO close to the Tories with whom the party was in coalition.

I believe the party needs to return to its greener roots and place them front and centre of our offering to the electorate not just for our sake but in order to provide a Liberal basis for approaching the issues of Climate Catastrophe, pollution of our oceans and facing up to the fact that we cannot simply go on looking forward to limitless GDP growth.

In fact most of this is not particularly controversial now within the Lib Dems, so I reckon most of my resolution would more or less go through “on the nod”, so where, you may ask, is the hornet`s nest I have poked with a stick. Have a read through the resolution below and see if you can see the culprit.

Green Campaigning – Local and National Elections

Conference notes that the preamble to the Liberal Democrat constitution affirms our belief that “…each generation is responsible for the fate of our planet and, by safeguarding the balance of nature and the environment, for the long-term continuity of life in all its forms.”

Conference further reaffirms the centrality and importance of this credo to our purpose and campaigning objectives in local, national and international politics.

Conference recognises that the long-term continuity of life, in all its forms, is currently under clear, present and future danger resulting from anthropogenic (human-caused) pressures on the biosphere:

  1. the continuing and unfolding climate catastrophe;
  2. the pollution and contamination of our oceans;
  3. the air pollution and its impact on human health as well as upon the earth`s fauna and flora ;
  4. the material waste generated by the squandering, reckless and irresponsible economic systems and philosophies promoted by all UK governments of the past fifty years and more.

We believe that all individuals, communities and political entities can and should recognise that at least some responsibility for such anthropogenic pressures rests with them, with ourselves, and calls for urgent action at all levels to counter these threats.

Conference therefore calls upon Liberal Democrats to focus our local election campaigning for 2019 on local and community environmental issues in conjunction with other like-minded individuals and organisations, prepared to work with us on this crucial common cause.

In particular, we should be more open to developing much closer linkages with the Green Party to our mutual benefit than has hitherto been the case (save for a few notable exceptions – eg Twickenham, Richmond, Trafford and Brighton).

Conference further calls for Liberal Democrats to place positive green campaigning at the heart of our political activity for the next General Election and, indeed, all elections in the foreseeable future.

In particular, we should be promoting sustainable development, seeking community-focussed solutions to the environmental problems facing us. We should be concentrating upon promoting and delivering a `circular economy` (where all materials are treated as precious resources, with nothing thrown away) in contrast to the wasteful `linear economy` (where raw materials are used to make a product, after which any `waste` – such as packaging – is thrown away) which has been favoured by governments up until now.

The future health of our planet is in our hands.


Have you spotted the buzzing hornets?

The paragraph which has set some teeth on edge is one of the ones that start with the words “In particular…

In particular, we should be more open to developing much closer linkages with the Green Party to our mutual benefit than has hitherto been the case (save for a few notable exceptions – eg Twickenham, Richmond, Trafford and Brighton).

My argument is that in order to stop being seen as the toxic friends of the Tories we need to become more conscious of the fact that the electorate can perceive that there are great similarities in world view between the Liberal Democrats and the Green Party, especially now that a lot of those people referred to as red-greens or “watermelons” (in other words socialist leaning environmentalist) have left the Green Party to join Corbyn`s Labour Party.

I have argued elsewhere that the yearning for a new “Centrist” Party is misguided and the existential issues of the environment facing us require a more radical, non-authoritarian alternative than anything that can be measured in an increasingly irrelevant Left-Right spectrum. For that to happen, Liberal Democrats need to consciously work WITH the Green Party in an electoral sense insofar as this is possible. And that is where the trouble seems to start.

There is still an underlying tribalism within the Liberal Democrats – possible also within the Green Party (but I can do nothing about that for the moment – difficult enough trying to challenge it within my own party!) There have been calls for me to remove the offending paragraph from my resolution draft, in order for as many people as possible to support it.

However, my strong belief is that this particular “Elephant in the room” needs identifying and discussing openly and robustly. What I have suggested is that the resolution goes forward WITH the paragraph included and then anyone is entitled to put forward an amendment calling for the deletion of said paragraph. Let us have a discussion about it. Politicians too often fear an open debate – look no further than the European debacle for evidence of political cowardice!!

OK I have probably said enough. More likely I have said too much, but having gone past my three score years and ten, I am certainly no less likely to be frank than I ever was! And I don`t think I was ever shy of a little controversy.

If you are a member of the Liberal Democrats reading this and you would like to support this resolution going forward for consideration for debate at the Liberal Democrat Conference in Brighton please send me an email to keith.melton10@gmail.com telling me your name, your constituency and your Lib Dem membership number and I will add you to the supporters list. The more the merrier – and please pass it on – only a few days left to add to the list! The resolution needs submitting by noon on the 27th June. I look forward to hearing from you.

About Keith Melton - Green Lib Dem

Retired English liberal environmentalist living in Nottinghamshire; spent six years in Brazil. Author of Historical Novel - Captain Cobbler: the Lincolnshire Uprising 1536. Active member of the Green Liberal Democrats - (pressure group in Liberal Democrats) - was Founding Chair of GLD in 1988
This entry was posted in Elections, Environment & Sustainable Development, Politics, Radical Liberal. Bookmark the permalink.

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