Over the past few years I’ve become increasingly cynical about the ‘green’ credentials of the Green Party of England and Wales (please note, the Scottish Green party is a seperate entity and a very different kettle of fish, they’re actually sensible!) mainly because I had to study their policies on transport, rail privatisation and High-Speed 2 way back in 2015. Everything I’ve experienced since has made me even more cynical. Frankly, as a ‘green’ party, they’re not fit for purpose. They’re little more than a posturing protest group where dogmatism is allowed to override science and facts.
The latest example of this is the antics of their candidate for the Chesham and Amersham by-election on June 17th. The local ‘green’ party chose one Carolyne Culver who is currently the leader of the ‘Green’ group on West Berkshire council.
The by-election was called following the death of the sitting Conservative MP, Dame Cheryl Gillan, who passed away on the 4th April 2021. Gillan was a Brexit supporter and opposer of the High Speed 2 railway which passes through the constituency.
The ‘Greens’ have decided that the ‘cunning plan’ of their campaign in Amersham and Chesham will be to base it around a single issue (opposition to HS2) in the hope of attracting the ‘Nimby’ vote. To that end Culver is running one of the most cynical and opportunistic campaigns I’ve ever seen from the GPEW. Imagine, a party that’s supposedly concerned about ‘green’ issues and global climate change pandering to parochialism, nimbyism and self interest – and the truth (and science) be damned!
Here’s an example. This is Culver’s statement on the local Green party website.
“The people of Chesham and Amersham have been taken for granted for too long. The government should scrap HS2 and invest in local services and infrastructure instead. The destruction of the environment, homes and businesses must stop. HS2 tunnel boring has started, threatening the chalk aquifer and water supply. The residents of this constituency are bearing the brunt of this project but will gain nothing from it. At the same time, they have to put up with poor quality, unsafe roads and inadequate bus services.
“Spending more than £100bn on HS2 is frankly obscene. The Covid-19 pandemic has taught us that we need to spend more on the NHS and adult social care, school students who have missed out on education, and helping people back into work and to reskill.
“I have campaigned alongside local residents and other Green Party members to protect Jones Hill Wood and the
Leather Lane oaks. I have witnessed the anger, despair and disbelief of residents affected by HS2. If elected to
parliament I would be a fearless advocate for local people and opponent of HS2.”
So, no mention of anything to do with anything outside of local issues and forget GLOBAL Climate Change! It’s a manifesto for Nimbys, nothing more. It’s also pure posturing. HS2’s being built, now. Even if by a miracle Culver was elected (she won’t be) it’s a dead issue as far as Parliament is concerned. She can no more stop it than fly in the air.
This is the “vote Culver” website which contains the following gems.
“Carolyne is the only candidate endorsed by the Stop HS2 campaign”. Well, ignoring for a moment that campaign is as dead as a Dodo now that Joe Rukin hung up his inflateable white elephant for the final time earlier this year, it’s also bizarre thing to boast about because this conflicts with the Green Party policy TR244, which says “The Green Party supports the principle of a new north-south high speed line which would reduce the number of short-haul flights within the UK.” Except when it actually comes to putting your money where your mouth is and building one, obviously! Hypocritical, much? Confused, much?
It gets worse. Culver is shown on her website holding this banner.
That’s 6 claims – and not a single one is true! Let’s go through them.
- ‘Biggest deforestation’? I nailed that lie here. It’s not even close…
- 108 Woodlands ‘destroyed’ Another lie nailed. In fact, not a single ancient woodland is destroyed (but a minority do suffer some loss of area).
- ‘Experts say’? No, experts (plural) don’t say. In fact, only one man has claimed this, Lord Berkeley’s sidekick Micheal Byng. It’s a figure no-one else recognises. Oh, and as for the HS2 only ‘saves’ 15 minutes, that’s complete cobblers too, as the official journey times show. Culver seems unaware (or just doesn’t care) that HS2 isn’t just a Euston to Birmingham service only running between the two stations so there are multiple journey time savings. This claim was always idiotic, it’s even more idiotic now that HS2’s being built from Birmingham to Crewe, but does Culver care? Obviously not.
- No ‘local’ benefits? HS2 frees up capacity on lines running through the constituency, it also helps take lorries off the roads (cutting local pollution), can reduce domestic aviation and contribute to UK GDP (which benefits everyone) – and cut transport Co2 emissions which benefits the whole planet, not just a few local Nimbys.
- The old Working From Home (WFH) and videoconferencing claim isn’t borne out by any real statistics either, least of all by the fact road traffic’s almost back to pre-Covid levels and rail traffic continues to recover. It’s middle-class wishful thinking, nothing more. The reality is the majority of people can’t work from home.
- Err, no taxes are paying for HS2, like most big-ticket infrastucture projects and Government spending, the money’s borrowed on the Gilts markets where the costs of borrowing have reached historic lows.
Oh, and as for that ‘NHS not HS2’ economic illiteracy – I dealt with that here.
Still, facts eh? Carolyne clearly wouldn’t know one if it bit her.
There’s (yet) more. Here’s an interview Culver gave to the Bucks Free Press which is a rehash of all the daft claims off her website plus extra scaremongering about local water supplies.
What’s facinating and depressing about all of Culvers electioneering is the way she’s running a rabidly parochial campaign all about local issues like potholes and with an obsessive focus on HS2. You’d be forgiven for thinking she’s running for the position of Councillor, not Member of Parliament. None of the great issues of the day – like Brexit, the economy, or most bizarrely – Climate Change – even get a mention!
So, what’s her background? Could that help explain this? Her bio says;
“Ms Culver, a Green Party county councillor in West Berkshire, has spent much of her career working in communications in the charity and university sectors, including the Berks, Bucks and Oxon Wildlife Trust and the University of Oxford. She has also been a teacher, lecturer and journalist.”
Hang on, how can someone who’s educated and worked most of her life in PR and Comms be so tone deaf and inept? Her campaign’s a PR car-crash – literally! Here’s a classic example from this week, when another ‘Green’ party car crash (Natalie Bennet of ‘brain fade’ fame) popped in. What did the two of them do? Toured HS2 worksites – in a 2014 built petrol-driven car! Here’s a Green party candidate who opposes building a green electric railway that we need to get modal shift from road/air to rail to tackle global climate change and she’s touring around the sites in a petrol driven car!
Needless to say, this Tweet soon attracted attention – and it wasn’t kind…
Sadly, like most ‘green’ candidates or members of the heirachy, Culver doesn’t like being questioned or challenged. Raise any of these issues with her or ask how someone from a party whose priority is supposedly global climate change can run such a parochial, fact-free campaign and this happens…
See what I mean about that tone-deafness?
The really dumb thing about this apparently experienced communications and PR ‘wizard’ running an anti HS2 based campaign is that Culver hasn’t bothered learning about Cheshaam and Amersham’s political history in relation to HS2, because Culver’s not the first one to optimistically think opposing HS2 will win her a safe-Tory seat. UKIP tried that one too!
Let’s delve into a bit of history…
The Chesham and Amersham seat was formed in 1974. Only two MPs have held it in all that time – both Tory. Dame Cheryl Gillan first won it in 1992 and held it until her death this year. Although she was a Brexiter, the area returned the biggest Remain vote on the UK mainland at 55%, it was second only to Gibralter. But, like many Tory MPs what mattered to Gillan wasn’t the views of her constituents, it was her local Tory party association who are the real power behind MPs and their views. Nonetheless, on the back of HS2 passing through the area and the vocal cries of a Nimby minority, UKIP were persuaded that if they stood on an anti HS2 platform they just might take the seat. Hence bombastic nonsense like this.
UKIP never got close to unseating Gillan, despite HS2 and the ‘Green’ vote has been up and down like a bride’s nightie! In 2019 it was 3042, or 5.5%, only mariginally better than it was in 2015!
So, Culver doesn’t stand a hope in hell of winning. Her only achievement by running such a fact-free and parochial campaign will be to tarnish the national party’s image even further. I mean seriously, a ‘green’ candidate who campaigns on potholes and better roads, but doesn’t even mention Climate Change? It’s time the GPEW grasped the nettle that’s their mad policy on HS2 before it does them any more damage. Sadly, with the dogmatic leadership they’ have in place, I can’t see that happening, which takes us back to the theatre of the absurd. By pushing ahead with HS2, Boris Johnson and his Government have proved (with their rail policy anyway) they’re actually greener that the ‘green’ party! How absurd is that!
UPDATE: 6th June 2021.
Things haven’t got any better with the ‘green’ party. Exactly the opposite in fact. Seemingly stung by the criticisms of their campaign, the Chiltern ‘green’ party has resorted to blocking anyone on Twitter who has the temerity to question the wisdom of their campaign – including other Green party members and voters!
It’s incredibly unhealthy for a supposed democratic party but then I’ve always maintained that the ‘greens’ are no such thing, as they’re proving by their actions. This is a protest group that brooks no dissent from the party orthodoxy.
I’ve a small favour to ask…
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It’s tragic really. Even if she won, she can’t cancel HS2 as one MP.
Even if the Green Party won a snap election tomorrow they’d probably slap on a review and rename it GreenRail for a PR win, it’s too far gone to cancel.
Paul Bigland said:
Indeed. The stop HS2″ ship has sailed. Now the GPEW are in real danger of being seen as an anti-rail party.
Another fun fact is that Peter Fleet, who will in all likelihood steamroll the Green Party here, has said HS2 isn’t an issue for the constituency.
This has the antis frothing but he’s right; it’s a single issue vote for relatively very few people.
Actually, the highest Remain vote on the UK mainland was Lambeth, at 78.6%. Chesham and Amersham is fairly well down the list, which may be found, of all slightly unlikely places, here; https://www.shropshirestar.com/news/uk-news/2019/01/14/highest-leave-and-remain-votes-in-2016-eu-referendum/
Agree about the hypocrisy of the Greens though. A major problem across the movement, of course (remember Robin Boardman-Petterson)?
Paul Bigland said:
Thanks for that correction Nick, I was surprised at Chesham’s claim so I’m glad you’ve managed to find a list that puts the record straight!