As the leader of the British Green Party and its first and only MP, Caroline Lucas is known for everything from her views on animal rights to her support of “direct action”. When she was elected to represent Brighton Pavilion in May — a terribly middle-class area in the gay capital of Britain which appears to be full of muesli-eating students and London commuters — it was hailed as a “victory” for the party. But was it?
Although it may have been a personal breakthrough for Lucas, it wasn’t reflected on a national scale. The Greens’ share of the vote actually decreased 0.1 per cent to 1 per cent, less than the BNP. Lucas and her supporters may believe that she has made the party “electable”, but look at the success of the German Greens compared to their British counterparts. Every major party in Germany has co-opted, adopted and even stolen Green policies, resulting in them becoming mainstream.
There can be no doubt that Lucas played down the role of environmental issues during the election. Claiming that the voters had responded to her wider agenda on social justice, she told the Guardian: “I would challenge the assumption that this was just an environmental vote. I was not elected on the back of environmental concerns alone.”
The British Greens could be accused of giving environmentalism a bad name. ”Lucas is just another ‘Have’ telling the ‘Have Nots’ how to live their lives,” says the commentator Julie Burchill. “Always suspect a political movement which has NO leaders from the lower orders — they are guaranteed to be a bunch of hypocrites, scolds and bed-wetters.”
Lucas says she is a feminist. Yet she has shared a platform with those who believe that adulterous females should be stoned to death. In 2004, Lucas supported the International Network Assembly for the Protection of Hijab (Pro-Hijab), which was formed in response to proposed headscarf bans in France and parts of Germany. Its aim was to “dispel myths about the hijab”, to lobby to reverse bans already brought in and to prevent more “abuses of democracy” being imposed. Lucas joined the former Respect MP George Galloway and London’s ex-mayor Ken Livingstone on the platform at the assembly’s publicly-funded City Hall launch.
The guest of honour was Livingstone’s old friend Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi, the head of the European Council for Fatwa and Research, who has spoken in favour of female genital mutilation, wife-beating, the execution of homosexuals in Islamic states, the destruction of the Jewish people, the use of suicide bombs against innocent civilians and the blaming of rape victims who do not dress modestly.
But Lucas ignored scores of human-rights activists and reams of evidence backing up their claims that al-Qaradawi was a dangerous extremist. She stated: “Al-Qaradawi has been the victim of an Islamophobic smear campaign in some sections of the media, and has been associated with a fundamentalist position on a number of topics, including the treatment of homosexuals and women. Most of the criticisms levelled at him have been ill-informed.”
Unsurprisingly, Lucas supports a boycott of Israeli goods, despite many within the party being against it. It would sometimes appear as if the Green party is merely a Caroline Lucas roadshow. Many of her constituents might be surprised at the compromises she is willing to make. Brighton has more gay and lesbian residents than anywhere else in the UK, and Lucas certainly went after their vote during the election.
“No other politician will prioritise gay rights in the way that I will,” Lucas has claimed. Yet she is happy to sit side by side with bigots who wish to see them dead. And take this extract from the Pro-Hijab website: “So now the problem lies for a few of our Muslim sisters in failing to understand the concept of equity…well, if being like a man is the answer, then probably having transsexual surgery might seem like a good option for these women to consider as well.” Not one word from Lucas condemning such homophobic and misogynistic sentiments.
While putting her money where her mouth is on issues such as rape, refuge for vulnerable women and domestic violence, Lucas somehow does not recognise that her support for the burqa, collusion with fascist religious fundamentalists and her failure to persuade her own party that legalising prostitution would give a green light to pimps and traffickers, lets her down.
Lucas’s views and principles are rooted in a type of insidious cultural and moral relativism. Perhaps this is why she and her party are courted by the media and enjoy a huge public profile compared to other small political parties.
Fundamentally, the problem with Lucas is her blatant hypocrisy. While purporting to hold the concepts of human rights and equality for all, she flirts with extremists and fundamentalists who, if they had their way, would destroy the bedrock of all Green policies and ensure that the likes of Lucas never saw the light of day.