The ‘ancien regime’ besieged by ‘populist insurgents’: FT & Spectator

“The pillar of past stability – predictable government built on turn and turnabout between the Tories and Labour – is crumbling”, according to the FT’s Philip Stephens:

“The two parties used to command more than 90% of the national vote – in the early 1950s it was 98%. The duopoly was underwritten by the winner-takes-all electoral system. But the Tory and Labour tribes have shrunk. In 2010 their share fell to 65%. It could be less in 2015. The Tory-Liberal Democrat coalition turned two-party into three-party politics. Four or five parties could be in the game after 2015”.

Labour and Conservative in combat mode: “the threat insurgent parties pose to mainstream politics” . . .

Isabel Hardman in the Spectator says, “the Greens are creeping up on the left-ish parties, just as UKIP crept up on the Tories. Everyone is more aware of the threat insurgent parties pose to mainstream politics”.

isabel hardman brighton

The membership of smaller political parties is rising. Though most concern is expressed about UKIP there has been a less well-publicised focus on the Green Party. Ms Hardman reports that, in September, the Labour Party set up a Green attack unit in its headquarters, led by Sadiq Khan, including party staffers and Khan’s advisers. It intends to create a toolkit of local campaign materials for constituencies to use and advise on a national media strategy to combat the Greens.

brighton public buildings solarA few days later the Spectator mounted an emotive attack on the record of the Green Council in Brighton. 

Specific charges related to its recycling regime, (described below) and its support for wind turbines, omitting reference to its solar achievements.

chris williams latestGreen Cllr Chris Williams of Solihull Council’s main opposition party, responds to the recycling disatisfaction charge:

The last Council put in an order to use Italian-made communal street bins which don’t work and no other council in the country uses, and the Greens have been stuck with the contract”.

He sends a link which records some achievements of Brighton’s Green Council, saving energy and money. They include:

  • bringing down the number of buildings used by the council, cutting council running costs and reducing the council’s carbon footprint;
  • installing solar panels on council buildings to cut energy bills (planning to do this in other public buildings and sheltered housing);
  • installing automatic meters to monitor and reduce water waste;
  • launching a seafront anti-litter campaign to encourage tourists and visitors to the city to dispose of their rubbish responsibly or take it home;
  • introducing a requirement that dogs living in council-owned homes be micro-chipped, encouraging more tenants to behave responsibly as their pets are easier to trace;
  • introducing an ethical procurement strategy to improve minimum standards for the products the council buys, being awarded WWF Gold standard for timber purchasing;
  • introducing refuse collections on bank holidays outside the Christmas period;
  • expanding community composting sites across the city; in ten of the city’s 26 schemes, residents can turn their food waste into free compost. More than 500 people are now using the community compost service;
  • increasing recycling options for small electrical items and unused paint and exploring the possibility of a commercial waste and recycling collection service;
  • supporting community food growing in public parks such as Dyke Road Park and Wish Park & working with the local allotment federation on a new allotment strategy to publicise their role in promoting health, well-being, social contact, wildlife, biodiversity, as well as growing fresh nutritious, affordable local food;
  • successfully securing outside funding to transform the central Level Park – a large, decaying urban green space – with new gardens – with more diverse and sustainable planting – a new playground, new public toilets, a cycle café, better lighting and furniture, a new skate park, and more green space.

In yesterday’s FT article, Philip Stephens noted: “The stable political order of Thatcher’s boast has lost a vital centripetal force just as the populists harness the anger of those left behind by globalisation”.

He is missing the point. Those angered by the injustice and environmental damage caused by globalisation are rejecting those mainstream politicians who not only permitted but aided and abetted it, furthering the interests of large corporations over those of the people who had elected them to serve – not exploit.


The writer is not a member of the Green Party, but welcomes the rise of smaller ethically based parties, including the National Health Action Party and – in Cornwall – regionalist Mebyon Kernow.


Posted on October 24, 2014, in Conflict of interest, Corporate political nexus, Democracy undermined, Government, Lobbying, Media, Planning, Public relations and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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