Tag Archives: green party

Reluctantly Political

I had no ambitions to get into politics. I’ve spent most of my life wanting politics to be something that happened quietly and productively, somewhere else, leaving me free to get on with writing books and exploring Druidry and generally doing the stuff I value.

I have no desire to be in charge of anything. I’ve had small tastes of power, in Pagan volunteer roles laden with responsibility. I did not get much of a power kick. I did get a lot of anxiety about doing the job well enough, and managing the responsibilities. I’ll run things if needs be, but leadership is not something I enjoy for its own sake, only for what might usefully be achieved.

Politics is an invasive business. It is not prepared to leave me alone to get on with my work. It is politicians who sort out the laws to protect creative content. I understand from The Society of Authors that the UK affords the shoddiest creator-protection in Europe. VAT on ebooks really hasn’t helped, thank you politicians. Laws about ‘orphan’ works have further undermined copyright. Then there’s all the blocking and banning, and as a Druid author I have to worry that growing censorship will shut down access to my site, and if companies are allowed to buy and sell access more specifically, that could squash me. Then there’s the Trans Atlantic Trade Agreement, which I feel threatened by. As an author, politics has not left me to get on with it.

As a Druid, the natural world matters to me. I see both the sacred and the pragmatic aspects of our essential, life-support systems. I see how politicians are willing to sacrifice the clean air and the safe water for the sake of a quick buck. I see how economic growth is valued above tackling climate change, and as a Druid, this makes me very uneasy. How can I go around being a Druid and be non-political, when politics is trashing the planet?

I would be the first to tell you that I don’t have the knowledge or the training to handle politics. Then I look at the people in positions of power. Climate change denier Paterson in the Environment job. Gove handling teaching, who hasn’t grasped that you can’t make all children perform above average. Osbourn, whose austerity cuts turn out to be very expensive indeed. It’s hard to protest that I’m not clever or informed enough to do a better job, in face of what I see happening.

So I joined the Green Party some years ago, and last year I took on a much more active role, and I’m going to be doing a lot of campaign work. I’ll be supporting EU candidate Molly Scott Cato, economics spokesperson, with a doctorate in economics. She’s knowledgeable, and sensible and doesn’t spend her time shouting random abuse or airing unsubstantiated opinions. I like informed, evidence-based policy, and I like people in positions of leadership and responsibility who know more about it than I do.

I’m tired of people in power who are just in if for the power trip and the opportunity to make themselves and their friends very rich. I’m tired of having to listen to uninformed fantasy and drivel from people who refuse to read, listen or think but who are so overconfident in their own prowess that they still feel entitled to tell the rest of us what to do. I want politicians who are wise, noble, well-informed, responsible and good human beings. That means, until we get to that place, I’ve got to pile in, and try to make some kind of difference. Then, hopefully, there will be some sane and relaxed space in which I can get back into the rest of the business of being an author and Druid.

Fracking Insanity

Green MP Caroline Lucas has been arrested whilst protesting against fracking. More here – http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/green-mp-caroline-lucas-arrested-as-antifracking-protests-reach-fever-pitch-8774189.html

It seems, reading the article, that a ‘legal protest’ can now be defined as one that happens somewhere out of the way where no one is in any way inconvenienced by it. Which rather negates the value of protesting. If to be inconveniently in the way is to be illegal, gods help this country because we are in a lot of trouble just now.

There is a video in the newspaper link. You can watch for yourself and judge how dangerous, antisocial and in need of arresting for public order and safety these people are. This is a peaceful protest. It should, therefore be considered a legitimate protest, as I see it, and to send in the police is a travesty.
Of course no one in power wants the general public thinking about fracking. They don’t want us talking about the very real dangers to land and water supply. Or the way in which they’re having to pour money into fracking to make it financially viable. There’s a working definition of ‘not financially viable’ if ever I saw one. Even if money is your god and you care nothing for the state of the planet, it’s hard to see how you’d look at this and think it’s clever.

We only have this one planet. We all need clean water, breathable air, and most of us have no desire to have our lives shattered by earthquakes, which apparently are a possible side-effect of fracking. And for what? To line someone’s pocket, to squeeze out a few last gasps of what we know to be a finite resource.

The smart money, and industry, is in green technology. It is a no brainer. Finite resources are not going to deliver long term results. Harnessing renewable sources of energy should keep us going for as long as we are here, if we get it right. Let’s not poison our children. Let’s not make our land uninhabitable.

In other scenarios, poisoning people is a criminal offence, and yet apparently the politicians are putting their weight behind the poisoners and locking up the protestors. This is not the reality I want to live in. I’d go so far as to suggest anyone who cares about living at all, about their quality of life, personal safety and long term prospects, really should be worried about this.

I salute those people with the courage and determination to put their bodies in the way and inconvenience the frackers. I hope there is justice, and that we as a country condemn poisoning the water, and uphold the rights of our own people to protest against total suicidal lunacy when the idiots in charge lose the plot, as they have so evidently done on this issue.

Why Aurochs?

I have a bit of a thing about aurochs, and have for some years.
The great hairy cows of our ancient landscape died out in the 1600s, or more precisely, were hounded to extinction by humans. They are just one of the many lost things that haunt me. Our bears and wolves have gone, we don’t really have beavers. The cranes are being helped to make a come-back because there are European populations to draw on. The small leafed limes that once dominated our woodlands are scarce. Keeping the dead present, is important. Remembering the lost, and being aware that there has been a lot of genocide against species down the centuries. We wipe out so much diversity, destroy so much beauty, and I cannot honour nature without facing up to the awful history of how humans have treated the natural world. And how we still treat the rest of nature.

There are so many things we could lose, or have come close to losing. Our otters are back from the brink, but still vulnerable. Our Scottish wildcats are endangered. We nearly lost the red kits and the ravens. Cuckoos are in decline, our bird and insect populations as a whole are suffering. Bees and hedgehogs, badgers and bats. Reports into UK wildlife this year have been gloomy to say the least. Extinction is forever, and no one should consider that acceptable. (To borrow from the Green Party, we should not go round seeing other species as expendable.)

Aurochs wandered through our ancient landscapes. I’ve seen what smaller, modern cows do to woodland, churning up the soil, eating the saplings and low growth, knocking over the odd smaller tree. What would one creature, two meters high to the shoulder, do in a forest? What would a herd of them do? It would be destructive. And yet, forests are at their most lively and diverse not in the deep treed areas, but on the margins. Most of woodland life happens at the edges, with groves and glades a critical part of that. I postulate, quite simply, that herds of aurochs created groves.

There are many wild flowers that only now thrive in woodland when there are regular cycles of cutting and pollarding to let the light in. Did they evolve in response to human wood management techniques, or something older? How much of the landscape did we lose when we lost our wild cattle?
I picture the power and majesty of the auroch. Little domestic cows are scary enough when they run at you. An auroch would be terrifying, awe-inspiring.

I miss them.

They haunt me, and they carry a message about wildlife, about all that is so precarious just now, all that could be lost. No species is expendable. No species is worth killing off to further some financial end. No road, no building project, no faster train… none of it justifies the loss of a creature, a plant species, a type of insect. Every time we destroy something forever, we wreak unknown havoc on the eco system as a whole. There are trees that will die out because they needed the dodos to germinate their seeds. Without the bees, as a species we will be stuffed. If we can’t be responsible from a sense of duty, we really ought to be able to do it from a place of wanting to survive.

Working Green

There have been a lot of dramatic shifts in my life lately, and one of them is that I’ve just taken on a new job. I can’t call it ‘conventional employment’ because it won’t be – odd and variable hours, a lot of working from home, occasional periods of frenetic activity punctuated by quite bits, probably. I’m going to be the local press officer for The Green Party.

I’ve been a quiet member of The Green Party for about four years now, and for me it’s an important aspect of my being a Druid. The ancient Druids were, by all accounts, advisors to rulers. While I believe very strongly that the state should be separate from religion in terms of systems, as individual people we are both political and spiritual, or at least can be. I cannot separate the need for responsible political action from my spiritual life. The planet needs compassionate politics with an eye to the long term. We need social justice. Generally speaking, good environmental policy and social justice go together easily. We all need clean air and safe water, by way of obvious examples.

With the terrifying prospect of fracking on the agenda, with social justice pushed right out to the margins by a mainstream politics of short term greed, there is a real need for a Green agenda.

For me this is a dream job, because it enables me to take my writerly skills-base and put it to good use. One of the things that I struggle with, often, as a writer, is whether I am sufficiently useful to be making a difference. I got into writing in the first place because I wanted to make a meaningful contribution, and I believed that sharing words would be a good way to do that. I still do hold that belief, but these are different times from those in which Dickens raised awareness of the poor, or Blake challenged the dark, Satanic mills.

Putting my language skills to work for a good cause feels like a step in the right direction, for me. There’s also scope to work on making Green issues more acceptable, trying to reach out to a wider audience, not by ‘dumbing down’ but by finding accessible language, and engaging ways of telling the stories.

There are many things I love about Green politics. My job explicitly requires me not to do anything that looks at all like spin, or for that matter, that *is* spin. There is also a policy of polite and positive engagement. We don’t spend our time attacking individuals, it’s all about the ideas. We also don’t run campaigns full of negativity and misery. A big part of the idea is to try and inspire people, to facilitate individual responsibility, helping people who might not otherwise speak up, to engage with politics and make changes.

For a small party, the Greens in the UK punch well above their weight in terms of making changes. We get things done. Much of this happens outside of parliament (just the one green MP). There are a lot of Green councillors in the country, working quietly at a local level to try and improve things. I’m really proud to be stepping up to be a part of that.