Julia Hailes MBE

Sustainability Pioneer

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Swansong of our first Green MP – Caroline Lucas – Jun24

Have you ever heard Caroline Lucas, our first Green MP, speak? If not, you’ve missed out. She’s just stepped down after 14 years of representing the Brighton constituency.

I recently attended her farewell speech at the Green Alliance event, “Reflections and Lessons from a Green MP,” held at the Southbank in London. It’s hard to disagree with her—what she says is coherent, cogent, and credible.


While she has had her share of successes as the sole Green representative, one of her most striking messages was about our broken, combative political system. This resonated with me, especially after reading Rory Stewart’s book, “Politics on the Edge.” Caroline highlighted how difficult it is to get things done and break through political barriers.

When asked what she’d do if she were in charge of DEFRA, she quipped that she’d rather be Chancellor—because controlling the purse strings is crucial. One specific change she mentioned was ending perverse subsidies that make it cheaper to damage the environment than to protect it.

It’s sad to see her go, but we have to hope the next generation of Green MPs can make a difference, even though there won’t be many of them. I worry that whatever can be done in Parliament will be too little, too late. There’s not much optimism that a Labour government will shift the dial significantly.

This brings up a crucial question: would the green movement achieve more by collaborating with the private sector? Even if we elect more Green MPs I’m sceptical they can change political priorities to focus on climate change and biodiversity loss.

I might be pessimistic, but I must give Caroline credit for being a tremendous pioneer in UK green politics. Let’s hope her legacy won’t be wasted.

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