Caroline Lucas, Britain's only Green MP, popped into Glastonbury yesterday to address an audience at the Speaker's Forum in Green Fields and speak on the Pyramid stage for the non-nuclear debate. Besides mud, celebs and some stunning bands, Glastonbury has a long tradition of non-conformism and political activism. Michael Eavis, a Methodist, comes from a long line of Somerset non-conformists and diverts much of the profits of this massive extravanganza to local and international charities, notaby Water Aid, Oxfam and Greenpeace. The Green Fields hum with campaigning organisations, green technologies and ideas, a permaculture garden where you can buy the freshest, cheapest food on the vast site and the wonderfully mellow Healing Field where you can get a massage or a treatment or just simply chill by small acoustic stages - This is the other side of Glastonbury.
I met Caroline years ago at a small festival where we were both speaking. She was a newly elected MEP then (member of the European Parliament); intelligent, articulate, but not yet fully standing in her power. Yesterday, I met a woman who is not only very smart, she is has grown into a person to be reckonned with and that's saying something. Did you know that there are more MPs called Dave than there are women MPs in our British Parliament?
Caroline spoke on a variety of subjects from the fossilised processes and traditions of Parliament that actually subvert democracy and the necessity of reform; the ludicrous preference for Britain funding a nuclear deterrent to the tune of £100 billion whilst we cut away support from the most vulnerable people in Britain; to farm subsidies and how the Government's overseas marketing actually promotes factory-farmed meat; the preference for small mixed farms; who controls policy; cororate media, banks... the breadth of the questions were wide and her responses were informed, intelligent, measured... Caroline was powerful, funny, human and she never missed a beat. She she was also persuasive about the value of engaging with the political process. Her reforming ideas and policies were all well thought out and comonsense. She got my vote.
At the end of the hour, I asked her where she gets her energy to campaign not only for years, but for decades. I am always interested in people who are in for the long term. She laughed and said, "I get my energy from a being part of a movement of people who are good. We are all on the side of the good people." I had a growing sense then of her genuine commitment to representing the voice of sanity in what is in reality a crazy place, the Houses of Parliament.
I have spent years feeling politically cynical and feeling dispossessed of a voice. Last week, I went to see the government launch their Green Deal on the back of a community-led green campaign. I had to leave. I felt a nauseous tide of greenwash rising like bile in my throat. These smooth suited politicians holding power are so far away from being green and their claims are bullshit.
I have never joined a political party and wanted to believe any MP was capable of representing me. My vote where I live in Tory Town is meaningless. I exercise my vote despite the fact it sinks into a miasma of blue because my Grandmothers did not have the privilege until they were well into adulthood. Yesterday, I came away thinking that Caroline Lucas has passed through a ring-pass-knot and done the seemingly impossible by becoming a green MP (and all without the name of Dave). The second green MP will be easier to elect as will further green councils (now even have a green council in Brighton). The tide is turning, albeit painfully slowly. If you have the chance, this party is worth investigating and supporting. They talk sense. They have come of age and Caroline Lucas is a rare breed: a politician deserving our support. I am going to interview her about the reforms she is pressing for in Parliament and I am going to put away my political cynicism and start engaging with the debate and find out more.
Good Old Green Glastonbury. Now for some Coldplay.