The Green Party of England and Wales announced its new leader earlier this week, and appears to be going from strength to strength with each election. But as Charlie Wood asks, can the party ever seriously challenge the dominant political heavyweights?
The Green Party of England and Wales is having an interesting year. Assembly member Jenny Jones secured almost 100,000 first preference votes in the London mayoral election, placing the Greens ahead of the flagging Liberal Democrats, and the resurgent UKIP, in third place.
The party’s Brighton ‘experiment’, where they control the local council, seems to be going fairly well (although ‘meat-free Mondays’ may have been a bit too much, too soon). The star of the Greens, Caroline Lucas, the party’s historic first MP, raised eyebrows earlier this year by announcing she would be taking “a strategic approach to leadership” by resigning as leader.
Stepping into her shoes, as was announced on Monday, is former Guardian Weekly editor Natalie Bennett, who completes a trinity of prominent females at the peak of the party pyramid. And she may vindicate Lucas’ decision to step down by broadening the party’s reach within the media, and sharing the burden of responsibility for the Green brand.
Bennett may also become a national figure in her own right, but the challenges the Green Party faces over the next few years will require more than a change in personnel.
In the 2010 general election, Lucas became only the second Green Party candidate globally to be elected to parliament under first-past-the-post. This antiquated electoral system (full disclosure – I campaigned for alternative vote) inhibits smaller parties like the Greens and UKIP – as well as somewhat larger parties, such as the Lib Dems – from translating national votes into parliamentary representation; the Greens won 285,616 votes in 2010, yet only the 16,238 secured in Brighton made any difference to their seat-count in Westminster.
Now, after the overwhelming ‘No’ vote in last year’s AV referendum set back electoral reform for a decade or more, it seems that the Greens will do well to merely consolidate Lucas’s Brighton seat.
In these circumstances, it is increasingly important for the party to become more than a single issue in the minds of the electorate. The Greens must promote their entire liberal-left manifesto in order to pick up votes from disaffected Lib Dem supporters that can’t quite bring themselves to vote Labour, as well as left-wingers unconvinced by the socialist credentials of Ed Miliband.
The party’s ‘mission statement’ – Policies for a Sustainable Society – incorporates its environmentalist ethos within a full manifesto framework, and includes policies in opposition to tuition fees and (somewhat surprisingly) European integration, alongside libertarian approaches to drug-use and gay marriage.
At this stage of the parliamentary cycle, the electorate should be fully aware of all these positions (and I fear they are not). Bennett has a huge task at hand, and she would do well to seize this moment via a tour of the networks. Andrew Neil, Adam Boulton et al may be tough customers, but they do facilitate parties such as the Greens in getting their message across.
The impact of environmental issues on recent UKpolitics is apparent: the Conservative’s slogan of “Vote Blue, Go Green” is a telling (and, in hindsight, rather cynical) example of the perceived influence of green issues, and the Lib Dems have made energy policy one of their key missions in government.
A strong Green Party is essential in forcing this agenda, but a seat at the top table is one thing – moving to the next level will be twice as difficult and require a lot more work. I for one hope they get a proper hearing.
Charlie Wood is a 30-year-old recent graduate of English literature at Leeds Metropolitan University, from Fleetwood, Lancashire, and West Cork, Ireland. He intends to pursue a career in politics and writing.
Ways Green Preppers Are Trying to Protect their Privacy
Environmental activists are not given the admiration that they deserve. A recent poll by Gallup found that a whopping 32% of Americans still doubt the existence of global warming. The government’s attitude is even worse.
Many global warming activists and green preppers have raised the alarm bell on climate change over the past few years. Government officials have taken notice and begun tracking their activity online. Even former National Guard officers have admitted that green preppers and climate activists are being targeted for terrorist watchlists.
Of course, the extent of their surveillance depends on the context of activism. People that make benign claims about climate change are unlikely to end up on a watchlist, although it is possible if they make allusions to their disdain of the government. However, even the most pacifistic and well intentioned environmental activists may unwittingly trigger some algorithm and be on the wrong side of a criminal investigation.
How could something like this happen? Here are some possibilities:
- They could share a post on social media from a climate extremist group or another individual on the climate watchlist.
- They could overly politicize their social media content, such as being highly critical of the president.
- They could use figures of speech that may be misinterpreted as threats.
- They might praise the goals of a climate change extremist organization that as previously resorted to violence, even if they don’t condone the actual means.
Preppers and environmental activists must do everything in their power to protect their privacy. Failing to do so could cost them their reputation, future career opportunities or even their freedom. Here are some ways that they are contacting themselves.
Living Off the Grid and Only Venturing to Civilization for Online Use
The more digital footprints you leave behind, the greater attention you draw. People that hold controversial views on environmentalism or doomsday prepping must minimize their digital paper trail.
Living off the grid is probably the best way to protect your privacy. You can make occasional trips to town to use the Wi-Fi and stock up on supplies.
Know the Surveillance Policies of Public Wi-Fi Providers
Using Wi-Fi away from your home can be a good way to protect your privacy.However, choosing the right public Wi-Fi providers is going to be very important.
Keep in mind that some corporate coffee shops such a Starbucks can store tapes for up to 60 days. Mom and pop businesses don’t have the technology nor the interest to store them that long. They generally store tips for only 24 hours and delete them afterwards. This gives you a good window of opportunity to post your thoughts on climate change without being detected.
Always use a VPN with a No Logging Policy
Using a VPN is one of the best ways to protect your online privacy. However, some of these providers do a much better job than others. What is a VPN and what should you look for when choosing one? Here are some things to look for when making a selection:
- Make sure they are based in a country that has strict laws on protecting user privacy. VPNs that are based out of Switzerland, Panama for the British Virgin Islands are always good bets.
- Look for VPN that has a strict no logging policy. Some VPNs will actually track the websites that you visit, which almost entirely defeats the purpose. Most obviously much better than this, but many also track Your connections and logging data. You want to use a VPN that doesn’t keep any logs at all.
- Try to choose a VPN that has an Internet kill switch. This means that all content will stop serving if your VPN connection drops, which prevents your personal data from leaking out of the VPN tunnel.
You will be much safer if you use a high-quality VPN consistently, especially if you have controversial views on climate related issues or doomsday prepping.
How Going Green Can Save Your Business Thousands
Running a company isn’t easy. From reporting wages in an efficient way to meeting deadlines and targets, there’s always something to think about – with green business ideas giving entrepreneurs something extra to ponder. While environmental issues may not be at the forefront of your mind right now, it could save your business thousands, so let’s delve deeper into this issue.
Small waste adds up over time
A computer left on overnight might not seem like the end of the world, right? Sure, it’s a rather minor issue compared to losing a client or being refused a loan – but small waste adds up over time. Conserving energy is an effective money saver, so to hold onto that hard-earned cash, try to:
- Turn all electrical gadgets off at the socket rather than leaving them on standby as the latter can crank up your energy bill without you even realizing.
- Switch all lights off when you exit a room and try switching to halogen incandescent light bulbs, compact fluorescent lamps or light emitting diodes as these can use up to 80 per cent less energy than traditional incandescent and are therefore more efficient.
- Replace outdated appliances with their greener counterparts. Energy Star appliances have labels which help you to understand their energy requirements over time.
- Draught-proof your premises as sealing up leaks could slash your energy bills by 30 per cent.
Going electronic has significant benefits
If you don’t want to be buried under a mountain of paperwork, why not opt for digital documents instead of printing everything out? Not only will this save a lot of money on paper and ink but it will also conserve energy and help protect the planet. You may even be entitled to one of the many tax breaks and grants issued to organizations committed to achieving their environmental goals. This is particularly good news for start-ups with limited funds as the Environment Protection Agency (EPA) is keen to support companies opening up their company in a green manner.
Of course, if you’re used to handing out brochures and leaflets at every company meeting or printing out newsletters whenever you get the chance, going electronic may be a challenge – but here are some things you can try:
- Using PowerPoint presentations not printouts
- Communicating via instant messenger apps or email
- Using financial software to manage your books
- Downloading accounting software to keep track of figures
- Arranging digital feedback and review forms
- Making the most of Google Docs
Going green can help you to make money too
Going green and environmental stability is big news at the moment with many companies doing their bit for the environment. While implementing eco-friendly strategies will certainly save you money, reducing your carbon footprint could also make you a few bucks too. How? Well, consumers care about what brands are doing more than ever before, with many deliberately siding with those who are implementing green policies. Essentially, doing your bit for the environment is a PR dream as it allows you to talk about what everyone wants to hear.
Going green can certainly save your money but it should also improve your reputation too and give you a platform to promote your business.