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British Environmentalism : A Party in Movement ?

L’environnementalisme britannique : un parti en mouvement ?
Brendan Prendiville

Résumés

La protection de l’environnement en Grande-Bretagne remonte à l’ère victorienne, lorsque les premiers militants s’opposèrent aux dégâts de l’industrialisation dans les grands centres urbains. Ce que l’on appellera plus tard l’environnementalisme, à la fin du XXe siècle, dépasse largement cette forme de protection environnementale, que ce soit en termes de discours ou de types d’actions. À partir des années 1970, il se transforme en mouvement social de masse avec son parti politique (Parti Vert), ses groupes de pression (Amis de la Terre), ses « think tanks » (Green Alliance, New Economics Foundation) et son activisme direct (La Terre d’Abord !). Cet article fera l’analyse de la stratégie duale du mouvement vert britannique, à savoir, la construction d’une alternative politique verte et/ou le « verdissement » du système politique actuel.

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Texte intégral

  • 1 In this article, we use the term “environmentalism” or “movement for the environment” as a ge (...)
  • 2 FOE was created in San Francisco in 1969.
  • 3 Indeed, it is possible to trace this interest in the environment back to the creation o (...)

1Amongst the wealth of literature on environment and politics, it is commonly accepted that British environmentalism1 began at the beginning of the 1970s with the first edition of The Ecologist magazine (July 1970) and the creation of the British branch of Friends of the Earth (FOE) in September 1971,2 heralding a “new social movement” (NSM) in terms of ideas, organisation and strategy. It was indeed new in each of these aspects but the need to defend the natural environment from the excesses of human action already had a very long history in Britain, dating back to the middle of the 19th century.3 The reaction of the first, Victorian environmentalists to the degradation of the social and natural environments was far removed, in quantitative terms at least, from the mass movement that began in the 1970s. It was, however, a first step in the realisation that the natural and social environments are in constant interaction.

  • 4 Stuart Brookes & Jeremy Richardson, “The Environmental Lobby in Britain”, Parliamentar (...)
  • 5 In 1981, the RSNC replaced the SPNC (Society for the Promotion of Nature Conservation) and wa (...)
  • 6 The NT was founded in 1895. In terms of membership, the RSNC and the NT had, respectively, 25 (...)
  • 7 Stuart Brookes & Jeremy Richardson, “The Environmental Lobby in Britain”, op. cit., 320 (...)

2Even FOE had a contemporary forerunner, largely forgotten in the more recent environmentalist literature. In terms of its ideological brief, the Conservation Society (CS, 1966), for example, already had a different vision of what the movement for the environment (ME) should be doing. Up until that time, the movement existed to defend nature in all its forms (animals, plants, etc.) against the damaging side-effects of industrialisation but the CS went further in believing that “without an attack on the fundamental problems of population and economic growth, individual problems such as pollution, and the threats to the urban and rural environment, were insoluble and the efforts of the more specialist societies irrelevant”.4 These “specialist societies” included such giants as the Royal Society for Nature Conservation (RSNC)5 or the National Trust (NT),6 both founded at the turn of the 20th century with a view to protecting particular sites of natural and/or – in the case of the NT – historical interest. From the outset, they were also in close contact with Whitehall. Charles Rothschild (1877-1923), for example, drew up a list of “nature sites” which he submitted to the government of the day as worthy of state protection and the link between the NT and government was almost organic with Brookes and Richardson referring to it as a “special relationship”.7

3British environmentalism, therefore, has a long history and it is this transition from a largely apolitical conservationism to a politically-aware environmentalism that we wish to analyse in this article. This transition has followed two paths which constantly overlap but which can, nevertheless be distinguished. The first is the creation of an autonomous, green political culture, incarnated by the Green Party (GP) and parts of the wider green movement. That is, a form of “party-movement” with a distinctly alternative set of beliefs, values, political practices and lifestyle to mainstream society and politics. This broad, social and political alternative stretches from the officially recognised GP to the “radical ecologists” of Earth First (EF ; see below). The second path is that taken by the environmentalist reformists who have tried to “green” the political system with varying degrees of success. How far have these environmentalists managed to overcome the systemic and cultural obstacles to this greening process ? The British political system marginalises minority concerns very effectively and up to the 1980s, the environment was certainly that. Moreover, the political culture of the two major parties was hostile to theories questioning market-driven economic growth ; so getting this issue onto the political agenda was no easy task, even once the downsides of industrialism became visible (e.g. ozone layer, climate change, etc.).

The Green alternative

New environmentalism

  • 8 Stuart Brookes, A. Grant Jordan, Richard Kimber & Jeremy Richardson, “The Growth of the (...)

4In 1976, Brookes et al. stated that a “new environmentalism” had been created in Britain8 and, more recently, Campbell Wilson published an article emphasising the federating role The Ecologist magazine played in setting up this new movement :

  • 9 Wilson Campbell, “The Ecologist and the Alternative Technology Movement, 1970-75 : New (...)

Crucial to the sustenance of the fledgling movement was the means to share its message, and, perhaps eventually, to spread it. This required a movement ‘journal’ to present its arguments in full, and in July 1970, this need was largely met by the first edition of The Ecologist. The Ecologist was clearly representative of the fledging environmental movement in Britain during the early 1970s, and its views were considered seriously by a range of actors.9

  • 10 As we have seen, the Conservation Society had already broached environmentalist themes si (...)

5Between the first edition of The Ecologist and the creation of the Green Party (GP) in 1973 different events and organisations came together to form the initial core of this “new” environmentalist movement.10

6The Ecologist was the brainchild of Edward Goldsmith who left a lasting mark both on the magazine and British environmentalism, at least in its early years. He was from a very wealthy family, went to Oxford University and subsequently spent most of the 1960s travelling around the world, discovering the reality of tribal peoples and “developing his own style of survivalist thinking”.11 On returning to Britain, he decided to create The Ecologist with the intention of exploring what he considered the deleterious effects of Western economic development on traditional cultures. However, The Ecologist went much further than this when it published a document in 1972 called Blueprint for Survival (BFS) which subsequently became a landmark in British environmentalism. BFS was intended as the British environmentalists’ response to the American “Limits to Growth”12 report of the same year which had analysed the consequences of the continued, exponential exploitation of the world’s resources concluding that the planet was heading towards an ecological crisis. BFS was written with a view to setting this analysis within a British context and its title was a direct reflection of Goldsmith’s “survivalist thinking”. Fred Pearce later concluded that BFS “amounted to a call for a world order founded not on growth but on stable populations and ‘no-growth’ economies”.13 However, BFS also had another intention which was to kick-start what was called, perhaps inevitably, a “Movement for Survival” (MFS) based on a core of environmental groups which had supported BFS’ publication. This attempt to create a social movement, almost by decree, could not work as was demonstrated when the founding environmental groups withdrew.14 What did, nevertheless, come out of this attempt was the creation of the first European Green party in 1973, then termed People, soon to become the Ecology Party (1975) and, eventually, the Green Party (1985).

The Green Party

7British Greens were reinvigorated by the General Election of 2010 in which the GP won its first parliamentary seat in Brighton (Caroline Lucas). Having tried for 36 years, the satisfaction for this minority party to have stayed the course was immense. This was doubly so in the political system within which they were operating, which has always marginalised minority parties in Britain. The majoritarian, bipartisan electoral system for example (first-past-the-post) was partly designed to keep out minority parties and had managed very successfully to do so since the GP’s inception, costing it much financial depletion in lost deposits along the way. Moreover, in terms of its own political culture, the GP faced a virtually impossible task for as long as a sizeable part of its membership held an :

  • 15 Sarah Birch, “Real Progress: Prospects for Green Party Support in Britain”, Par (...)

…anti-establishment philosophy of politics that [viewed] elections, representation and even parties themselves somewhat askance, preferring rather to engage in grass-roots consciousness raising activities long after most Green parties elsewhere in Europe [had] reconciled themselves to working within the existing political system.15

8Only when the party members had accepted to work within the political system and become electorally appealing did the possibility of winning a parliamentary seat become imaginable. This acceptance involved a drawn-out internal process of crisis and reform (see below) which only really came to an end in 2008 when the party accepted the principle of appointing a single spokesperson and elected Caroline Lucas to the position. This meant that 2010 was the first General Election in which the party had even the remotest chance of winning a seat which makes the feat of doing so even more impressive.

  • 16 Brendan Prendiville, “The UK General Elections 2010 : The Environment”, Revue Française d (...)
  • 17 Anthony Crosland, A Social Democratic Britain, London : Fabien Society (Tract 4 (...)

9Moreover, by the time the GP had made itself more presentable to the voting public, the two major parties had already “discovered” the environment as a political issue.16 The Conservative Party had long been close to the conservationist wing of the environmental movement but had to wait for David Cameron’s leadership to promote an environmentalist discourse that went beyond the free-market environmentalism of the 1979-97 period. The Labour Party, up until the arrival of Tony Blair in 1997, looked down on environmentalists as affluent, middle-class conservationists who were attempting to “kick down the ladder [of affluence] behind them”17 and in large parts of the trade union movement, they were seen as a threat to jobs. As for the third party, it had the best track record on the environmental question having produced policy since the 1970s but, of course, the Liberal Democrats had never been in power to prove their environmental credentials before 2010.

10Amongst all these sizeable obstacles to Green progress, perhaps the largest one has been axiological. The GP believes that “[conventional] politics has failed us because its values are fundamentally flawed”18 and in its ten-point statement of core values, it ends with the promise that “[the] Green Party puts changes in both values and lifestyles at the heart of the radical green agenda”.19

Beliefs and ideas

  • 20 This green paradigm goes beyond the GP and would include large sectors of the wider envir (...)
  • 21 “The term ‘holistic’ from the Greek ‘holos’ (whole), refers to an understanding (...)
  • 22 “Anthropocentrism: the placing of humans at the centre of our preoccupations” (Luke (...)
  • 23 The American sociologist, William Isaac Thomas made a similar observation in his theorem, (...)

11The Green world view or paradigm20 is based on ecocentrism or biocentrism in which the principles of “holism”21 and interdependence between all living beings are primary. It sets itself up against Western “anthropocentrism”22 which the Greens see as a form of human arrogance towards nature and which is the root cause of environmental damage. This damage was hugely accelerated by the industrial process, leading to the industrialist ideology of progress and economic growth, seen as an apology for the pillaging of nature to purely human ends. An anthropocentric view of the environment holds that nature only exists to fulfil human needs and if we decide to protect it, this is simply because it is in human interests to do so. This also implies, of course, that only human beings have interests or, intrinsic value, which the Greens would also contest. In other words, the way mankind perceives the natural environment determines the way it behaves towards it.23

  • 24 David Evans, A History of Nature Conservation in Britain, London : Routledge, 1997, 7. Se (...)
  • 25 “Ethical approaches which broaden the moral community to include non-human entities such (...)
  • 26 On the difference between “shallow” and “deep” ecologists/Greens, see Arne Naess, “The sh (...)

12A Green, ecocentric world view sees the natural environment as more than a pure struggle for life, considering that Darwin’s “tree of life” should also be understood as a “web of life” in which the horizontal relationships between organisms are as important as – if not more important than – the vertical hierarchy.24 When nature is viewed in this way, mankind is taken off its pedestal, leading to profound consequences. The question of species’ relative importance, for instance, becomes much wider with Greens proposing to extend the notion of interests or intrinsic value to non-human beings such as animals. How far this “moral extensionism”25 reaches depends on whether one is talking to a “shallow” Green or a “deep” Green.26 A “shallow” Green, for example, may accept animals into his/her moral universe whereas the “deep” Green would probably go much further and include all forms of non-human life.

  • 27 A cursory look at the chapter headings of these two manifestos illustrates this ; 1979 Ma (...)

13How far do Greens’ beliefs correspond to this Green paradigm theory presented in environmental literature ? In the early 1980s, Stephen Cotgrove and Andrew Duff (Appendix 1) and Jonathon Porritt (Appendix 2) each produced a table of dominant (industrialist) and alternative (Green) paradigms. Although the terms used in the two tables differed, the similarities were clear in terms of the Green approaches to politics, economy and society. Equally, they both countered the public perception that the ME was a single-issue phenomenon, interested solely in the natural environment. Similarly, from the GP’s General Election Manifesto in 1979 up to the latest 2010 Manifesto, the party has constantly laid emphasis on the environmental and social dimensions of the ecological crisis.27

  • 28 G. Lynn Bennie, N. Mark Franklin & Wolfgang Rüdig, “Green Dimensions : The Ideology of (...)
  • 29 Ibid., 235.
  • 30 Ibid., 236. Florence Faucher also noted a similar phenomenon amongst the British Greens ( (...)

14A more recent analysis studying beliefs amongst GP activists28 revealed two ideological camps : the decentralists and the electoralists, that is, a difference in approach between those activists who saw the principal function of the GP as being to promote a radical Green agenda and those who considered a political party existed to win elections. The electoralist camp put particular stress on two points. Firstly, the need to improve the media image of the GP and, secondly, to elect a single leader as opposed to having different spokespersons. Within the decentralist camp, the authors of this analysis distinguished two branches, the first of which they called the “left-anarchist dimension, characterised by a strong emphasis on social justice issues combined with demands for party decentralisation and a preference for non-violent direct action”.29 The second was based on a “biocentrist ideological outlook […], a certain reluctance to become involved in ‘politics’ of either the electoralist or the direct action type – instead, an individualist Green ‘fundamentalism’, which could be seen as close to the role of ‘New Age’ thinking in the green US movement […]”30 and it is here that we can see the “deep Green” dimension of the GP. Both of these branches bring us back to the aforementioned “anti-establishment” philosophy that distinguished British Greens up to the late 1990s and which may have made them electorally unattractive for mainstream voters.

  • 31 Paul Byrne, Social Movements in Britain, London : Routledge, 1997, 153.

15Another example of how electors may have been turned away from voting Green is in the claim of Paul Byrne that : “Britain’s Green Party [stands] out as being rather more purist than most others in Europe.”31 Byrne was referring to the GP’s “distinctly ecological agenda” when he wrote this, but this British Green “purism” has also been visible in their longstanding tradition of individual and collective example. That is to say that British Greens have long prided themselves with living out their ideas to an extent that other Green parties have not and this relationship between words and deeds has always been a fundamental part of Green identity. “Practicing what you preach” could, of course, be considered as a laudable aspect of Green political culture but it could also have distanced potential voters who don’t feel able to meet the standards set by Green activists.

  • 32 Florence Faucher, “Manger vert : choix alimentaires et identité politique chez les écolog (...)
  • 33 The ecological footprint of a given population (or person) is the amount of pro (...)

16One telling example of what could be termed ideological consistency is in the analysis of Greens’ eating habits carried out by Florence Faucher.32 Greens believe that the production of food in Western societies leaves a very large ecological footprint33 on the planet, the size of which needs to be reduced if only to preserve natural resources. Be it the land needed for animals to graze on, the oil needed by intensive farming techniques to produce food and to transport much of it around the world and the pollution caused by all these processes, the Greens believe that producing and consuming organic food is an indispensable part of being Green. Moreover, by adopting ecological eating habits, their private, personal actions take on public and collective significance in terms of the identity they project to people they are trying to reach politically. Nowhere is this clearer than on the question of eating, or not eating, meat as illustrated by the importance of vegetarianism amongst British Greens.

  • 34 “6 percent of the population, or 3.6 million people” (<http://www.raw-food-health.net/Nu (...)
  • 35 One British Green eventually turned vegetarian due to her habit of seeing anima (...)
  • 36 “People in educational establishments should have the choice of both eating and (...)

17There is already in Britain a wider cultural context and longstanding history of animal welfare which makes the refusal to eat meat less of a marginal act than would be the case in some countries. Figures vary but Britain has one of the highest proportions of vegetarians in Europe34 and the mobilisation in favour of animal welfare in the mid-1990s demonstrated the continuing concern that exists amongst the British population. The decision not to eat meat remains, nevertheless, a very personal decision which can be taken on different grounds.35 People may do it for ethical reasons, in disagreement with the way animals are treated such as in the aforementioned 1990s protests against the exports of live veal to Europe. Others have dietary, health or religious reasons. And some have environmental worries, such as concern over the land used in poor countries to feed animals which could be used to feed people. However, amongst the Greens, vegetarianism has a fundamentally philosophical dimension stemming from the biocentric view of the world in which each species has the right to live out a fulfilling life. Indeed, vegetarianism is considered important enough for a separate clause on the issue to be inserted in the “Animal Rights” section of the Policies for a Sustainable Society (PSS).36

  • 37 The 2001 General Election Manifesto is entirely devoted to the theme of justice. See the (...)
  • 38 That is, aid which helps poor countries to become more autonomous and does not simply mak (...)

18When considering the impressive production of GP ideological documents (principally the PSS and election manifestos), it is clear that the issues treated extend well beyond the natural environment. As mentioned above the Green election manifestos have consistently presented a multidimensional vision of a sustainable future for Britain and in each of the last three General Election Manifestos (2010, 2005, 2001), the first section is on economics. On inspection, it is possible to single out three dimensions of Green concern. The first is the environmental dimension with proposals one may expect to find in Green policy documents : climate change, ecotaxes, food quality and food safety (especially in a country that has experienced BSE and foot-and-mouth disease), opposition to genetically modified foods, abolition of the Common Agricultural Policy and the need to reduce Britain’s ecological footprint, etc. The second is centred on the theme of justice :37 a “citizen’s income” scheme, the right to decent housing and health, defending public services, the fight against pollution which hits the poorest hardest, “enabling”38 aid to the poorer countries and cancelling the Third World debt, defence of minorities of all sorts, sexual parity, etc. The third dimension is the ecologist dimension which itself branches out into two directions.

19Firstly towards a different type of economic growth :

The pursuit of economic growth as a force driving over-exploitation of the Earth must cease to be an automatic aim of human societies. We should instead aim to develop sustainable economies, which improve well-being focused on human values rather than consumerism. Traditional measures of economic activity, such as GDP, should be replaced by new indicators that measure progress towards this aim.39

20The aim of the GP is to develop true sustainability which goes beyond the “greenwash”40 they see in many economic and political organisations. For British Greens, the sustainable society would be based on the local, human scale community, one of the spheres of social interaction which has been under most attack by the process of globalisation. The GP criticises globalisation as being “neither inevitable, nor desirable”41 in its present form of monopoly capitalism and cultural standardisation. Economically, they favour a form of localism which would lead to a reduction in world trade. The PSS, for example, talks of the “elimination of unnecessary trade” and the “protection of local markets”42 and self-sufficiency is a constant source of reference : “We encourage more self-reliant local and regional economies, which are diverse and can meet more needs locally.”43 Indeed, GP ideology often resembles the political version of Ernst Friedrich Schumacher’s famous book Small is Beautiful.44

21The second direction leads to the individual and his/her sense of moral responsibility towards both non-human living beings and those humans who do not yet exist, bringing us full circle once again and back to the ecocentric paradigm. In the first instance, the principle of intrinsic value is invoked as a protection for all forms of life and, in the second, the responsibility towards future generations is best met by reducing our ecological footprint. There is, therefore, a value-laden dimension to Green Party policy ideas which is no doubt stronger than in many, more successful sister parties in Europe.

Lifestyle politics

  • 45 In 1981 Greenpeace-UK had 30,000 members ; by 1991 it had 312,000 members : Neil Carter, (...)
  • 46 M. Thatcher called it “the biggest road-building programme since the Romans”, q (...)
  • 47 One famous eco-protester, Merrick, described this aim as making life “difficult (...)
  • 48 Ibid., 10.
  • 49 Brian Doherty, “Paving the Way : The Rise of Direct Action against Road-Building and the (...)

22Outside political institutions, British environmentalism has a long history of direct action reaching back to the early 1970s with FOE’s first public action in September 1971 when it dumped hundreds of empty bottles outside the London headquarters of Cadbury-Schweppes as a protest against the company’s refusal to recycle their bottles. With the arrival of Greenpeace-UK in 1977, direct action tactics became even more spectacular as environmentalists took to the seas to attempt to prevent such things as whaling, the dumping of nuclear waste in the ocean or the sinking of an oil platform in the North Sea (Brent Spar, 1995). As in other countries, Greenpeace-UK has been particularly effective in its strategy of “bearing witness” to environmental damage and hugely successful in terms of membership, particularly during the 1980s.45 However, the early 1990s in Britain witnessed a new type of radical activism born out of disenchantment with the possibility of fundamental change to the system that produced environmental damage. The aforementioned new environmental organisations born in the 1970s were seen as having become too mainstream and, in the case of the one with the highest media profile (Greenpeace), as being single-issue oriented with no ecological vision. In the wake of the dashed environmental hopes raised by the GP’s score in the 1989 European Elections (14.9 %), many young environmentalists were stung into action by the government’s road-building plans set out in the 1989 White Paper, “Roads for Prosperity”.46 This proposed legislation sparked off a national campaign against road building (1992-97) which dovetailed with other campaigns such as the protests against live veal exports to Europe (1993-95) and against government legislation on crime (Criminal Justice Act 1995) seen as a direct attack on young people’s lifestyles. In terms of organisation and strategy, these campaigns were a departure from the actions of the traditional “new environmental” groups in that they possessed a very strong cultural as well as political dimension. That is, they gave rise to what became known as “lifestyle politics” in which the mobilisations were a political and cultural experience for the protesters, forging a Green counter-culture similar to that of the 1960s albeit with stronger political and axiological dimensions. As such, eco-protest became examples of ecological practice in the form of protest camps, set up with a dual purpose : to defend the environment by delaying work on environmentally-damaging government projects (e.g. roads, airport runways, etc.)47 and to do so by living out an alternative experience to mainstream, consumer society which was so damaging to the planet. In the protest camp against the Newbury bypass (1995-96), for example, the protesters were trying to stop the road builders from cutting down an ancient English forest. Organisation in the camp was deliberately non-hierarchical in its decision-making and the tactics were non-violent, that is, obstruction to the project in question without causing physical harm. The activists lived in the trees as a way of preventing the builders from felling them and life in the camp was strictly ecological, as far was possible in such extreme living conditions. In the words of Merrick : “Everything gets recycled or composted.”48 In reference to the anti-roads protests, Brian Doherty believed that “despite its small size, we can define the eco-protest movement as the first full expression of the NSM type in British environmental politics”.49

23Lifestyle politics was a way for young environmentalists to live out their Green paradigm. Disillusioned with the political system and seemingly abandoned by the established environmentalists, they were of the view that environmental damage had to be met head-on, as illustrated by the creation of the British branch of Earth First (EF) in 1991. EF is a loosely-structured organisation that has become a form of environmentalist avant-garde in protests around the country on different issues (rainforests, roads, animals, biodiversity, climate change, etc.). Its ideological standpoint is one of strict ecocentrism in which “[all] natural things have intrinsic value, inherent worth”50 whereas mainstream environmentalist groups are seen as acting for anthropocentric reasons in defence of human health. Its strategy is based on “the use of direct action to confront, stop and eventually reverse the forces that are responsible for the destruction of the Earth and its inhabitants”.51 It has been central in the organisation and participation of eco-protest from its first actions on the rainforest issue in the early 1990s, through the anti-roads and animal welfare campaigns, up to today’s climate camps.52

Greening the mainstream

  • 53 John McCormick, British Politics and the Environment, London : Earthscan, 1991, 34.
  • 54 <http://www.sera.org.uk/index.php?id=9>, accessed 07 April 2011.
  • 55 John McCormick, British Politics and the Environment, op. cit., 41.
  • 56 SERA letter to CLP, March 1982, quoted in Mike Robinson, The Greening of British Party (...)

24The reformist strand of the Green movement has a wide variety of organisations to further its agenda. What has been called the environmental lobby in Britain is a strong one53 with a wide mix of pressure groups, think tanks and internal and cross-party groups. Each of the three major parties has an environmental group whose main function is to advance the environmental agenda within the party’s ranks. The first was the Socialist Environment Resources Association (SERA) which today describes its aim as promoting “sustainable environmental policies within government and the Labour Party”.54 Twenty years ago, it had a grander ideological ambition in aspiring to be “the green wing of the Labour movement and the socialist wing of the green movement”.55 It was created in 1973 in the early days of new environmentalism when activists were searching for the best ways to advance their cause. SERA believes that environmentalism has always been a socialist concern, citing the work of utopian socialists such as Robert Owen and William Morris as evidence for this. This notwithstanding, the early eco-socialist activists had a difficult time convincing their Labour comrades who, in the main, believed environmental issues were a middle-class concern (see above, A. Crosland). Indeed, a decade after its creation, it was still fighting to build them into Labour’s political culture : “What SERA is attempting, more than anything else perhaps, is to reclaim the term ‘environment’ and to demonstrate its importance, in socialist terms, to the Labour Movement.”56

25The task of the Conservative Ecology Group (CEG, set up in 1977) was also sizeable, as many Conservatives considered things environmental to be synonymous with leisure or conservationism :

  • 57 James Radcliffe, Green Politics : Dictatorship or Democracy ?, op. cit., 170.

The environment was something that many Conservatives were concerned with, traditionally along the lines of conserving the countryside and the amenities it offered, whether these were large estates, agriculture or game.57

  • 58 John McCormick, British Politics and the Environment, op. cit., 41.

26This understanding of the environment was principally that of the “one-nation” Conservatives and was soon to be overtaken by that of their “two-nation” colleagues who were very much in the ascendancy at the time of the CEG’s creation. An illustration of this shift came a decade later, at the height of Thatcherism, when the Tory Green Initiative was launched (1988) to “campaign for an environmentally sensitive free-market economy”.58 The most recent incarnation of interest for the environment as a political issue within the Conservative Party was the decision made by David Cameron to highlight this question in his run-up to the election of 2010. In creating the Quality of Life Policy Group in 2005 and commissioning a report which was published two years later, the Green profile of the Conservatives was raised considerably, topped off with the change of its party logo into a tree in time for the publication of the 2010 Manifesto.

  • 59 “Assembly and Council Resolutions 1972”, Liberal Party Archives, London School of Economics

27In the race for Green credentials, the Liberal Democrats have by far the best record amongst the three major parties, reaching back to the beginning of the 1970s.59 The Liberal Ecology Group (LEG, started in 1977) was created in the same year as the CEG and was very active in persuading the party hierarchy of the need to push the environmental agenda and make it a defining feature of contemporary Liberal policy. Much of the initial impetus was the result of the 1970s “community politics” the then Liberal Party had espoused and gave rise to a landmark conference resolution passed in 1974 on the need for a different type of economic growth :

  • 60 Mike Robinson, The Greening of British Party Politics, op. cit., 202.

This assembly rejects the goals of indiscriminate economic growth as currently measured by increases in the gross national product (GNP). It also rejects the idea that the improvement and happiness of a society can be measured by the monetary value of the goods and services produced. It believes that assessment of economic activity on society must take into account social and environmental factors and include quality as well as quantity of outputs.60

28During the 1980s, the Liberal Environmental Co-ordinating Group added further weight to the environmental drive within the party and in 1988, the LEG was replaced by the Green Democrats with the creation of the Liberal Democrats.

29Alongside these party groups, are also cross-party groupings on the environment, bringing together MPs from all sides of the political divide. One is the All-Party Parliamentary Environment Group (APPEG) whose aim is “to raise awareness of environmental issues to both Houses”.61 Another is the Environmental Audit Committee (EAC) which, as an official select committee, has far more sway in parliamentary life.62 It was created in 1997 in response to a Labour Party pre-election pledge and can be distinguished from most select committees which tend to concentrate on a single ministry’s work. The EAC, in contrast, has a wider brief by surveying the environmental performance of all the government departments and, in this respect, could be seen as an application of New Labour’s 1997 Manifesto promise to :

…put concern for the environment at the heart of policy-making, so that it is not an add-on extra, but informs the whole of government, from housing and energy policy through to global warming and international agreements.63

30A final example of work within political society is that of a body set up by Tony Blair’s first government, the Sustainable Development Commission (SDC). SDC was created in 2000 to act as an independent adviser to the government of the day and to hold “government to account to ensure the needs of society, the economy and the environment are properly balanced in the decisions it makes and the way it runs itself”.64 It was a merger between the UK Round Table on Sustainable Development (1995-2000) and the British Government Panel on Sustainable Development (1994-2000) – both appointed under the 1992-97 Conservative government – and was chaired by, arguably, Britain’s most famous environmentalist, Jonathon Porritt.65 In the aftermath of the Conservative-Liberal Democrat victory at the 2010 General Election, the SDC was abolished, leaving no independent body to scrutinise government performance on sustainable development. This was seen as a surprising decision, given David Cameron’s wish that the coalition government be “the greenest ever”.66

31Gravitating around these parliamentary groups, there is a constellation of associations and think tanks set up both to inform citizens and to influence the political and economic system on the environment. In strategic terms, and despite the perceived damage caused by industrialism, these groups have accepted that it is necessary to work with the political and economic system rather than against it even if some, such as Greenpeace, often use confrontational tactics as a way of gaining attention. Some of them are closer than others to the corridors of power and although some have gained a form of “insider status” within the political system, access to decision-makers is often difficult :

  • 67 John McCormick, British Politics and the Environment, op. cit., 24. It should, howe (...)

[Environmental] Groups are also handicapped by their unequal access to the political system. Because they are not seen by government to be of central importance to the effective performance of government or the economy, they do not have the close, symbiotic relationship with senior civil servants in the central departments which corporate interest groups enjoy.67

32In the political field, one of the most successful is undoubtedly Green Alliance (GA), founded in 1979. Its creators saw themselves as “a bunch of optimists. We’re not the doomsters. We believe in the possibilities of the future […].”68 By using the term “doomsters”, GA was no doubt responding directly to the survivalist discourse of the first British ecologists (e.g. The Ecologist, see above) and suggesting the need for a more positive approach to environmentalism. GA now defines itself as “an influential environmental think tank working to ensure UK political leaders deliver ambitious solutions to global environmental issues”69 and it has had no small amount of success in doing this. In its 25th anniversary document, it lists its achievements :

  • 70 Idem.

We can claim many ‘firsts’ throughout our history. We influenced the main political parties to make their first ever policy statements on the environment in 1984. We were the first to articulate a common agenda between business and environmentalists in the mid-1980s. In 1987, we were the first environment organisation to raise the issue of genetic modification in the UK. […] In 1990, our joint campaign led to the first ever White Paper on the environment. We hosted Tony Blair’s first green speech in 1995, and his first as prime minister in 2000.70

  • 71 Mike Robinson, The Greening of British Party Politics, op. cit., 96.

33The strong point of GA is its ability to work in an unobtrusive but effective manner with all sides of the political and economic spectrum, a point highlighted by Mike Robinson : “Through its formal and informal ‘bridge-building’ meetings between ministers, party officials and leading environmentalists, the Green Alliance has gained considerable credibility.”71

34In the economic field, the New Economics Foundation (NEF) is probably the most well-known environmentalist think tank. It is a direct product of ecologist activism as it came out of two alternative economic summits known as TOES (The Other Economic Summit) at the beginning of the 1980s. NEF was created in 1984 with a view to “developing an economics which puts people and planet first”72 and has been instrumental in ideas which have since become mainstream such as “green taxes, alternative economic indicators, ethical investment and social auditing”.73 A sister organisation in this field is Forum for the Future (FF, founded in 1996) which defines its approach thus :

We help companies and public sector bodies understand sustainable development, and we share the results of our work widely so that organisations all over the world can develop products and services which are environmentally sound, socially just and economically viable.74

35Interestingly, the principal founding members of both NEF and FF were high-profile members of the GP (Paul Ekins/NEF, Sara Parkin and Jonathon Porritt/FF) and heavily involved in the electoralist wing of the GP during the years of internal strife. Clearly, at the time of their departure they considered that they could contribute more to environmentalism outside the GP than in it.

Achievements

  • 75 Sarah Birch, “Real Progress : Prospects for Green Party Support in Britain”, op. cit., (...)
  • 76 Ibid., 12.
  • 77 Ibid., 10-12.
  • 78 Ibid., 12.

36Perhaps the biggest political achievement of British environmentalism is the recent election of the first Green MP to Parliament. This single event has given much political visibility and credibility to the Greens as well as giving the lie to the “perception that the [Green] party is unelectable, together with the corollary that a Green vote is a wasted vote”.75 However, this electoral success didn’t come from nowhere but was rather the result of changes both in the environmentalist electorate and within the GP. In the first instance, two years before the 2010 election, Sarah Birch pointed to a new pool of potential Green voters that were “young, cognitively mobilised and self-consciously left-of-centre […] concerned more with bread-and-butter issues than with matters of principle such as rights or peace”76 as opposed to the “[traditional] Green supporters [who reflect] the New Social Movement milieu in which green politics emerged […], young, secular public sector workers who hold post-materialist values, including support for civil liberties and pacifism”.77 Her conclusion from this change in electoral profile was that a vote for the Greens could become less marginal than hitherto : “a liking for the Greens is no longer a quirky taste shared by a small ‘alternative’ sub-culture, but rather a preference held by many people who appear to be relatively well-adjusted to the traditional political system and the values embodied in it”.78

  • 79 Ibid., 4.

37As for internal reform, we have seen that the GP made changes to the way it approached elections, moving from a 1980s anti-establishment mentality to one of presenting a more appealing face to potential voters. Apart from modernising its image, the party voted to change its double-headed leadership to having one leader and deputy leader, as in most parties. This was a fundamental change in Green political culture albeit one which many European parties had already made. Even before this, the GP had managed to find a compromise solution to its internal strife concerning its role in politics. The aforementioned opposition between the decentralists and the electoralists, which by the early 1990s had threatened to destroy the party, was becalmed by the 1993 programme called “Basis for Renewal”. This compromise policy satisfied electoralists by affirming that elections needed to be contested in a more professional manner and satisfied decentralists by emphasising local elections as a way to national election success, incarnated in the slogan “Westminster through the Town Halls”. This focus on local elections began to pay dividends with the appearance of local strongholds (Norwich, Brighton, Lancaster, Oxford) and in the 2008 local elections the Norwich Greens won 29 % of the vote.79

38Alongside the official political expression of environmentalism which is the GP, the work of groups such as Alliance, the EAC and the SDC in pushing the environment up the governmental agenda has, as we have seen, also been important. However, from a broader, sociological perspective, it is very difficult to measure the level of achievement of a NSM, one of whose distinctive features is to challenge cultural codes as well as usher in structural change. Moreover, environmentalist achievements are not always immediately apparent. If, for instance, one defines the aim of the environmentalist movement as that of defending the environment from damage, it could be said that it has failed with climate change as the most glaring illustration of this shortcoming. Rising carbon dioxide (CO2) is no doubt the biggest environmental danger the planet faces and many poorer countries would add that the British industrial revolution was the beginning of this environmental threat and, indeed, in cumulative terms, the UK remains one of the largest producers of CO2 emissions (Table 1) :

  • 80 Adam Vaughan (data blog), “A history of CO2 emissions”, The Guardian, 2 September 2009 : (...)

39Table 1 : World emissions of CO2 (1900-2004)80

Cumulative CO2 emissions, 1900-2004

Units : Million metric tons of carbon dioxide

United States

314,772

Russia

89,688

China

89,243

Germany

73,625

United Kingdom

55,163

40In the UK, the biggest move in recent history to combat climate change was the passing of the Climate Change Act in 2008 by the Labour government which was the world’s first legislation to fix legally binding CO2 reduction targets for future governments to reach.81 However, this law was not the result of a learning process by the government but, rather, that of a major nation-wide campaign led by FOE between 2005 and 2008, called “The Big Ask”. During this campaign, constituents were asked, among other things, to petition their MPs to support this legislation and it was FOE who drafted the original bill which was “sent to Parliament by a cross-party group of MPs”.82

41Environmental pressure also played a part in the government re-think on roads policy in the 1990s. The anti-roads movement of the time ostensibly failed to prevent roads being built during its most famous campaigns of direct action at Twyford Down (1992-93) or at Newbury (1995-96) but the government did withdraw its plans in other places around the country following threats of protest :

  • 83 Derek Wall, Earth First ! and the Anti-Roads Movement, London : Routledge, 1999, 91.

Campaigns against the widening of the M25 to 14 lanes, the M1 and M62 link in Yorkshire and the Salisbury bypass were all won using the threat of direct action and conventional pressure-group lobbying.83

  • 84 Wallace McNeish, “The Vitality of Local Protest : Alarm UK and the British Anti-roads Pro (...)

42The most well-known case of the government backing down in this way was in 1993 when it withdrew its plans to build a road through an 8,000-year-old forest (Oxleas Woods) in the borough of Greenwich, London, following a strong local campaign. Indeed, the government’s overall position on road building subsequently shifted considerably, no doubt partly as a result of these campaigns and the public support they received. Exactly to what degree this shift was caused by the anti-roads movement’s strategy of delaying the roadworks and pushing up costs is a matter of conjecture but the government’s 1996 budgetary decision to downgrade its road-building projects was, nevertheless, a significant one. From the 600 new roads announced in the 1989 White Paper “Roads for Prosperity” the government cut them down to 150.84

43More recently still, the coalition government elected in 2010 was forced to make a U-turn on its proposed plans to sell off publicly-owned forests to the private sector. The campaign against this decision gained widespread public support and was coordinated by the pressure group “38 Degrees”. In the space of a couple of months, more than 500,000 “38 Degrees” members signed the “Save our Forests” petition, over 100,000 attempted to persuade their MPs to oppose the sell-off and over 30 campaign groups were set up around the country. The government eventually sat up and listened when the big environmentalist organisations got involved :

  • 85 Nicholas Watt & John Vidal, “Forests sell-off abandoned as Cameron orders U-turn”, The Gu (...)

Government feet grew even colder last month after Dame Fiona Reynolds, director of the 3 million-strong National Trust, said the sale was a potential disaster for Britain and offered to step in if necessary to acquire important forests and hold them in perpetuity for the nation. Senior figures in the government are known to be nervous of the power of the trust’s huge membership.85

  • 86 John McCormick, British Politics and the Environment, op. cit., 34.
  • 87 Idem. See also Philip Lowe & Jane Goyder, Environmental Groups in Politics, Lo (...)
  • 88 Neil Carter, The Politics of the Environment, op. cit., 132.

44The measurement, therefore, of environmentalist progress is a difficult one and such cost-benefit evaluation is, perhaps, a sterile exercise in terms of the movement’s overall influence in British society. The very presence of such a large movement provides a potential threat to any government as the above quotation illustrates. According to McCormick, “Britain has the oldest, strongest, best-organized and most widely supported environmental lobby in the world” and is “the largest mass movement in history”.86 He was basing this claim on a survey carried out by Philip Lowe and Jane Goyder in 1981-82 which revealed an estimated 2.5-3 million members.87 By the turn of the century, it had reached “between 4 and 5 million”.88 Such figures are an achievement in themselves.

Conclusion

  • 89 Tim Webb, “E.ON shelves plans to build Kingsnorth coal plant”, The Guardian, 20 October 201 (...)

45It seems clear that environmentalism in Britain today is a very different phenomenon to that of the first wave of Victorian activism. The desire to clean up the side effects of industrialisation has widened to a concern for the survival of the planet and the need for an alternative social and economic model. The elitist environmental establishment of the 19th century has blossomed into massive memberships of environmentalist organisations and the recent electoral success of the Green Party. In terms of ideology, strategy and organisation, the change has been fundamental. The most recent wave of activism (radical environmentalism) which began in the 1990s has continued up to today in the form of “climate camps” (e.g. Kingsnorth)89 and has demonstrated to the main parties that people are still ready to mobilise on the environmental question.

  • 90 Green movements world-wide have attempted to maintain this party-movement attachment, the m (...)

46In the final analysis, the two paths taken by the British ME that we distinguished in the introduction to this article (i.e. building a green alternative to mainstream society and politics or greening the mainstream) can lay claim to a certain amount of success since the 1970s. In the first instance, the “official” Greens in the GP have travelled a long, hard road since 1973 and, for many years, dedicated activists were obliged to struggle on different fronts to keep the party alive. However, prospects began to look up once the role of the party was defined more clearly ; that is, moving from a “social movement” type of party to one which embraced elections more openly, particularly local elections, while also maintaining links with civil society Green activism (e.g. direct action).90 The election of a Green MP in 2010 has now clarified the GP’s political role and this could well give a boost to the Green movement as a whole. In the second instance of reformist environmentalism, perhaps the success is even larger in that the election of Caroline Lucas to Parliament could be seen as proof that the “Green alternative” would never be enough in the long run to transform mainstream society and politics. This election could be a sign to British environmentalists of all shades that these two paths towards a more sustainable Britain are not mutually-exclusive but, rather, mutually-reinforcing.

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Bibliographie

BROOKES Stuart & RICHARDSON Jeremy, “The Environmental Lobby in Britain”, Parliamentary Affairs, vol. 28, March 1974, 312-328.

BROOKES Stuart, JORDAN A. Grant, KIMBER Richard H., RICHARDSON Jeremy, “The Growth of the Environment as a Political Issue in Britain”, British Journal of Political Science, vol. 6, n 2, April 1976, 245-255.

CAMPBELL Wilson, “The Ecologist and the Alternative Technology Movement, 1970-75 : New Environmentalism Confronts ‘Technocracy’”, eSharp, n 12 : “Technology and Humanity”, 2008 (<http://www.gla.ac.uk/media/media_102865_en.pdf>).

CARTER Neil, The Politics of the Environment, Cambridge : Cambridge University Press, 2001.

EVANS David, A History of Nature Conservation in Britain, London : Routledge, 1997.

LOWE Norman, Mastering British History, London : Macmillan, 1989.

McCORMICK John, British Politics and the Environment, London : Earthscan, 1991.

PARKIN Sara, Green Parties: An International Guide, London : Heretic Books, 1989.

SHEAIL John, An Environmental History of Twentieth-Century Britain, Basingstoke : Palgrave, 2002.

SUTTON Philip W., Explaining Environmentalism, Aldershot : Ashgate Publishing Ltd., 2000.

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Annexe

Appendix 1 : Competing Social Paradigms (1980)91

Dominant social paradigm

Alternative social paradigm

CORE VALUES

Material (economic growth)

Non-material (self-actualization)

Natural environment valued as resource

Natural environment intrinsically valued

Domination over nature

Harmony with nature

ECONOMY

Market forces

Public interest

Risk and reward

Safety

Rewards for achievement

Incomes related to need

Differentials

Egalitarian

Individual self-help

Collective/ social provision

POLITY

Authoritative structures


(experts influential)

Participative structures


(citizen/worker involvement)

Hierarchical

Non-hierarchical

Law and order

Liberation

SOCIETY

Centralized

Decentralized

Large-scale

Small-scale

Associational

Communal

Ordered

Flexible

NATURE

Ample reserves

Earth’s resources limited

Nature hostile/neutral

Nature benign

Environment controllable

Nature delicately balanced

KNOWLEDGE

Confidence in science

Limits to science and technology

Rationality of means

Rationality of ends

Separation of fact/


value, thought/feeling

Integration of fact/


value, thought/feeling

Appendix 2 : Industrialist and ecological paradigms (1984)92

The politics of industrialism

The politics of ecology

A deterministic view of the future

Flexibility and an emphasis on personal autonomy

An ethos of aggressive individualism

A co-operatively based, communitarian society

Materialism, pure and simple

A move towards spiritual, non-material values

Divisive, reductionist analysis

Holistic synthesis and integration

Anthropocentrism

Biocentrism

Rationality and packaged knowledge

Intuition and understanding

Outer-directed motivation

Inner-directed motivation and personal growth

Patriarchal values

Post-patriarchal, feminist values

Institutionalized violence

Non-violence

Economic growth and GNP

Sustainability and quality of life

Production for exchange and profit

Production for use

High income differentials

Low income differentials

A ‘free-market’ economy

Local production for local need

Ever-expanding world trade

Self-reliance

Demand stimulation

Voluntary simplicity

Employment as a means to an end

Work as an end in itself

Capital-intensive production

Labour-intensive production

Unquestioning acceptance of the technological fix

Discriminating use and development of science and technology

Centralization, economies of scale

Decentralization, human scale

Hierarchical structure

Non-hierarchical structure

Dependence upon experts

Participative involvement

Representative democracy

Direct democracy

Emphasis on law and order

Libertarianism

Sovereignty of nation-state

Internationalism and global solidarity

Domination over nature

Harmony with nature

Environmentalism

Ecology

Environment managed as a resource

Resources regarded as strictly finite

Nuclear power

Renewable sources of energy

High energy, high consumption

Low energy, low consumption

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Notes

1 In this article, we use the term “environmentalism” or “movement for the environment” as a generic description for all those groups which defend the environment. However, it is possible to distinguish between 3 types of activism : 1) conservationism : action to preserve parts of the environment under threat ; 2) environmentalism : protection of the environment against the excesses of industrialism by adapting the economy and society to the environmental limits of the planet 3) ecologism : action to protect the environment based on the belief that human beings need to change their relationship to nature and replace industrialism with a sustainable system based on an ecocentric or Green paradigm.

2 FOE was created in San Francisco in 1969.

3 Indeed, it is possible to trace this interest in the environment back to the creation of the Royal Society in 1663. Philip Sutton, Explaining Environmentalism : In Search of a New Social Movement, Aldershot : Ashgate Publishing Ltd., 114.

4 Stuart Brookes & Jeremy Richardson, “The Environmental Lobby in Britain”, Parliamentary Affairs, vol. 28, March 1974, 313.

5 In 1981, the RSNC replaced the SPNC (Society for the Promotion of Nature Conservation) and was in turn replaced by the RSWT (Royal Society of Wildlife Trusts) in 2004. In 1976, the SPNC had itself replaced the SPNR (Society for the Promotion of Nature Reserves), the original conservationist association founded by Charles Rothschild in 1912.

6 The NT was founded in 1895. In terms of membership, the RSNC and the NT had, respectively, 252,000 and 2,293,000 members in 1995.

7 Stuart Brookes & Jeremy Richardson, “The Environmental Lobby in Britain”, op. cit., 320. The proximity between the NT and Whitehall was also because of the unique situation created by the National Trust Act 1907 which gave the NT a legislative footing.

8 Stuart Brookes, A. Grant Jordan, Richard Kimber & Jeremy Richardson, “The Growth of the Environment as a Political Issue in Britain”, British Journal of Political Science, vol. 6, n°2, 1976, 253.

9 Wilson Campbell, “The Ecologist and the Alternative Technology Movement, 1970-75 : New Environmentalism Confronts ‘Technocracy’”, eSharp, n°12 : “Technology and Humanity”, 2008, 2 : <http://www.gla.ac.uk/media/media_102865_en.pdf>, retrieved on 5 July 2011.

10 As we have seen, the Conservation Society had already broached environmentalist themes since 1966 and Brookes et al. also showed in their environmental content analysis of The Times newspaper that “there was a consistent level of interest throughout the 1950s and 1960s […] with a marked increase in overall environmental coverage circa 1969”. Stuart Brookes et al., “The Growth of the Environment as a Political Issue in Britain”, op. cit., 253.

11 <http://www.edwardgoldsmith.org/page279.html>, accessed 03 April 2011.

12 Donella Meadows, Dennis Meadows, Jorgen Randers & William Behrens, The Limits to Growth, London : Earth Island, 1972.

13 <http://www.edwardgoldsmith.org/page279.html>, accessed 03 April 2011.

14 Sara Parkin lists these groups as : the Conservation Society, Friends of the Earth, the Henry Doubleday Research Association and the Soil Association (Sara Parkin, Green Parties : An International Guide, London: Heretic Books, 1989, 214). She also suggests reasons for their withdrawal : “They may have been put off by a statement in the Blueprint which said that ‘if need be [the movement should] assume political status and contest the next general election’. However, subsequent commentators have suggested that Blueprint and other writings of one of the editors of The Ecologist, Edward Goldsmith, were ‘too reactionary’.” (ibid., 214-215). More recently, the British academic and ecologist, George Monbiot, made more serious claims in 2002. See <http://www.monbiot.com/2002/04/30/black-shirts-in-green-trousers/>, accessed 03 April 2011.

15 Sarah Birch, “Real Progress: Prospects for Green Party Support in Britain”, Parliamentary Affairs, vol. 62, n°1, 2009, 16.

16 Brendan Prendiville, “The UK General Elections 2010 : The Environment”, Revue Française de Civilisation Britannique, vol. XVI, n°1, 2011, 165-178.

17 Anthony Crosland, A Social Democratic Britain, London : Fabien Society (Tract 404) : <http://lib-161.lse.ac.uk/archives/fabian_tracts/404.pdf>, accessed 03 April 2011.

18 <http://www.gppolicy.org.uk/philosophical-basis>, accessed 07 April 2011.

19 Idem.

20 This green paradigm goes beyond the GP and would include large sectors of the wider environmentalist movement.

21 “The term ‘holistic’ from the Greek ‘holos’ (whole), refers to an understanding of reality in terms of integrated wholes whose properties cannot be reduced to those of smaller units” (Fritjof Capra, The Turning Point, London : Flamingo, 1985, 21).

22 “Anthropocentrism: the placing of humans at the centre of our preoccupations” (Luke Martell, Ecology and Society, Cambridge : Polity Press, 1994, 78.

23 The American sociologist, William Isaac Thomas made a similar observation in his theorem, “The Definition of the Situation” (“If men define things as real, they are real in their consequences” : <http://www.sociosite.net/topics/texts/thomas.php>, accessed 03 April 2011).

24 David Evans, A History of Nature Conservation in Britain, London : Routledge, 1997, 7. See also David Pepper, Modern Environmentalism : An Introduction, London : Routledge, 1996. Recent biological research provides further support to this “web of life” hypothesis (<http://www.physorg.com/news152274071.html>, accessed 03 April 2011).

25 “Ethical approaches which broaden the moral community to include non-human entities such as animals, based on the possession of some critical property such as sentience.” (Neil Carter, The Politics of the Environment, Cambridge : Cambridge University Press, 2001, 14).

26 On the difference between “shallow” and “deep” ecologists/Greens, see Arne Naess, “The shallow and the deep, long-range ecology movement : A summary”, Inquiry, vol. 16, n°1, 1973, 95-100: <http://www.ecology.ethz.ch/education/Readings_stuff/Naess_1973.pdf>, accessed 03 April 2011.

27 A cursory look at the chapter headings of these two manifestos illustrates this ; 1979 Manifesto: “The Real Alternative” / “Why Ecology ?” / “The Crisis in our Economy” / “The Crisis in our Society” / “Priorities for Action” / “Work/Family and Community” / “Government” / “Education” / “Health” / “Food, Agriculture” / “Energy” / “Transport” / “The Environment” / “Resources” / “International Foreign Affairs and Defence” / “The Third World” / “So Why Vote Ecology ?”; 2010 Manifesto: “Managing the Economy” / “Everyday Life” / “Citizens and Government” / “Our Environment” / “International Development, Peace and Security”.

28 G. Lynn Bennie, N. Mark Franklin & Wolfgang Rüdig, “Green Dimensions : The Ideology of the British Greens”, in Wolfgang Rüdig (ed.), Green Politics, Three, Edinburgh University Press, 1995, 217-239.

29 Ibid., 235.

30 Ibid., 236. Florence Faucher also noted a similar phenomenon amongst the British Greens (Florence Faucher, Les Habits verts de la politique, Paris : Presses de Sciences Politiques, 1999, 143-145).

31 Paul Byrne, Social Movements in Britain, London : Routledge, 1997, 153.

32 Florence Faucher, “Manger vert : choix alimentaires et identité politique chez les écologistes français et britanniques”, Revue Française de Science Politique, n°3-4, 1998, 437-457.

33 The ecological footprint of a given population (or person) is the amount of productive land necessary to satisfy its consumption needs and the absorption of its waste.

34 “6 percent of the population, or 3.6 million people” (<http://www.raw-food-health.net/NumberOfVegetarians.html>, accessed 04 April 2011).

35 One British Green eventually turned vegetarian due to her habit of seeing animals as humans : “I’ve always anthromorphosised animals, giving them human features” (“j’ai toujours anthropomorphisé les animaux, je leur donne des traits de caractères humains”), quoted in Florence Faucher, Les Habits verts de la politique, op. cit., 148.

36 “People in educational establishments should have the choice of both eating and, in the case of Catering and Home Economics courses, preparing vegetarian and vegan foods. We will therefore :
1. instruct the Department of Education and Science to make provision for vegetarian and vegan meals to be a compulsory part of the syllabus for all catering certificates, and,
2. produce comprehensive information on vegetarian/vegan diets for distribution to all Local Authorities together with instructions that a vegetarian/vegan choice of meal be made available at all education establishments within the Authorities’ remit.” (<http://policy.greenparty.org.uk/ar>, AR404 accessed 07 April 2011). The PSS is the document bringing together all areas of GP policy.

37 The 2001 General Election Manifesto is entirely devoted to the theme of justice. See the chapter headings : “A just economics” / “The just society” / “Ecological justice” / “Securing justice globally” / “Democratic justice” (<http://www.greenparty.org.uk/files/reports/2004/2001%20General%20Election%20manifesto.pdf>, accessed 07 April 2011).

38 That is, aid which helps poor countries to become more autonomous and does not simply make them more dependent on the West.

39 <http://www.gppolicy.org.uk/philosophical-basis>, PB106 accessed 07 April 2011.

40 “To make people believe that your company is doing more to protect the environment than it really is” (<http://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/british/greenwash>, accessed 07 April 2011).

41 <http://www.gppolicy.org.uk/ec>, EC903 accessed 07 April 2011.

42 <http://www.gppolicy.org.uk/in>, IN205 accessed 07 April 2011.

43 <http://www.gppolicy.org.uk/tm>, TM003 accessed 07 April 2011.

44 Ernst Friedrich Schumacher, Small is Beautiful, London : Abacus, 1974.

45 In 1981 Greenpeace-UK had 30,000 members ; by 1991 it had 312,000 members : Neil Carter, The Politics of the Environment, op. cit., 133.

46 M. Thatcher called it “the biggest road-building programme since the Romans”, quoted in Richard Sadler, “Roads to ruin”, The Guardian, 13 December 2006 : <http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2006/dec/13/guardiansocietysupplement3>, accessed 04 April 2011.

47 One famous eco-protester, Merrick, described this aim as making life “difficult, lengthy, expensive” for the authorities (Merrick, Battle for the Trees, Leeds : Godhaven Ink, 1996, 33).

48 Ibid., 10.

49 Brian Doherty, “Paving the Way : The Rise of Direct Action against Road-Building and the Changing Character of British Environmentalism”, Political Studies, vol. 47, n°2, 1999, 290.

50 James Radcliffe, Green Politics: Dictatorship or Democracy ?, Basingstoke : Palgrave, 2002, 196.

51 <https://www.earthfirst.org.uk/actionreports/whatisef>, accessed 24 March 2011.

52 Camps set up to protest at climate change.

53 John McCormick, British Politics and the Environment, London : Earthscan, 1991, 34.

54 <http://www.sera.org.uk/index.php?id=9>, accessed 07 April 2011.

55 John McCormick, British Politics and the Environment, op. cit., 41.

56 SERA letter to CLP, March 1982, quoted in Mike Robinson, The Greening of British Party Politics, Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1992, 151.

57 James Radcliffe, Green Politics : Dictatorship or Democracy ?, op. cit., 170.

58 John McCormick, British Politics and the Environment, op. cit., 41.

59 “Assembly and Council Resolutions 1972”, Liberal Party Archives, London School of Economics.

60 Mike Robinson, The Greening of British Party Politics, op. cit., 202.

61 <http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm/cmallparty/register/environment.htm>, accessed 04 April 2011. These all-party groups are defined as “informal, cross-party, interest groups that have no official status within Parliament and are not accorded any powers or funding by it. They should not be confused with select committees, which are formal institutions of the House.” (<http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm/cmallparty/register/register.pdf>, accessed 04 April 2011).

62 “The Environmental Audit Committee considers the extent to which the policies and programmes of government departments and non-departmental public bodies contribute to environmental protection and sustainable development, and it audits their performance against any sustainable development and environmental protection targets […].” (<http://www.parliament.uk/eacom>, accessed 04 April 2011).

63 <http://www.labour-party.org.uk/manifestos/1997/1997-labour-manifesto.shtml>, accessed 04 April 2011.

64 <http://www.sd-commission.org.uk/pages/about-us.html>, accessed 04 April 2011.

65 Jonathon Porritt was a founder member of today’s Green Party and Forum for the Future (see below). He is also an ex-director of FOE.

66 James Randerson, “Cameron : I want coalition to be the ‘greenest government ever’”, The Guardian, 14 May 2010: <http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2010/may/14/cameron-wants-greenest-government-ever>, accessed 10 April 2011. See also <http://www.publicservice.co.uk/news_story.asp?id=13552>.

67 John McCormick, British Politics and the Environment, op. cit., 24. It should, however, be pointed out that McCormick’s book was published in 1991, at the end of a difficult decade for environmentalists.

68 “Looking back, thinking forward... 25 years of Green Alliance, 1979-2004” (<, accessed 04 April 2011">http://www.green-alliance.org.uk/uploadedFiles/Our_Work/LookingBackThinkingForward.pdf>, accessed 04 April 2011 ).

69 <http://www.green-alliance.org.uk/aboutus/>, accessed 04 April 2011.

70 Idem.

71 Mike Robinson, The Greening of British Party Politics, op. cit., 96.

72 <http://www.neweconomics.org/content/history-nef>, accessed 04 April 2011.

73 Idem.

74 <http://www.forumforthefuture.org/about-us>, accessed 04 April 2011.

75 Sarah Birch, “Real Progress : Prospects for Green Party Support in Britain”, op. cit., 14.

76 Ibid., 12.

77 Ibid., 10-12.

78 Ibid., 12.

79 Ibid., 4.

80 Adam Vaughan (data blog), “A history of CO2 emissions”, The Guardian, 2 September 2009 : <http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/datablog/2009/sep/02/co2-emissions-historical>, accessed 04 April 2011. This article also points out that : “It’s also worth bearing in mind that many developed countries’ share of emissions go back before this data begins. As the leader of the industrial revolution, the UK in particular was responsible for significant carbon emissions in the 19th century.”

81 See Brendan Prendiville, “The UK General Elections 2010 : The Environment”, op. cit.

82 <http://www.thebigask.eu/history-of-the-big-ask>, accessed 04 April 2011.

83 Derek Wall, Earth First ! and the Anti-Roads Movement, London : Routledge, 1999, 91.

84 Wallace McNeish, “The Vitality of Local Protest : Alarm UK and the British Anti-roads Protest Movement”, in Benjamin Seel, Matthew Paterson & Brian Doherty, Direct Action in British Environmentalism, London : Routledge, 2000, 196.

85 Nicholas Watt & John Vidal, “Forests sell-off abandoned as Cameron orders U-turn”, The Guardian, 16 February 2011 : <http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2011/feb/16/forests-sell-off-cameron-uturn>, accessed 04 April 2011.

86 John McCormick, British Politics and the Environment, op. cit., 34.

87 Idem. See also Philip Lowe & Jane Goyder, Environmental Groups in Politics, London : Allen & Unwin, 1983, 1.

88 Neil Carter, The Politics of the Environment, op. cit., 132.

89 Tim Webb, “E.ON shelves plans to build Kingsnorth coal plant”, The Guardian, 20 October 2010: <http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2010/oct/20/kingsnorth-coal>, accessed 05 July 2011.

90 Green movements world-wide have attempted to maintain this party-movement attachment, the most successful no doubt being the German Greens.

91 Stephen Cotgrove & Andrew Duff, “Environmentalism, Middle Class Radicalism and Politics”, Sociological Review, vol. 28, n°2, 1980, 341. This was a study based on a quantitative and qualitative analysis of environmentalist literature and actors in the debate (environmentalists, business leaders, general public).

92 Jonathon Porritt, Seeing Green : The Politics of Ecology Explained, Oxford : Blackwell, 1984, 216-217. When J. Porritt’s book was published, he was a leading member of the Ecology Party.

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Brendan Prendiville, « British Environmentalism : A Party in Movement ? », Revue LISA/LISA e-journal [En ligne], vol. XII-n°8 | 2014, mis en ligne le 20 décembre 2014, consulté le 16 octobre 2017. URL : http://lisa.revues.org/7119 ; DOI : 10.4000/lisa.7119

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Brendan Prendiville

Université Rennes 2, France. Brendan Prendiville is a senior lecturer in the English department of the University of Rennes 2, France. His research focuses on contemporary Britain (political system and culture, history, society) and, more particularly, on environmental sociology (movement, values, ideology, strategy). He has published “L’écocitoyen : The question of ecocitizenship in contemporary GB”, Citoyen ou consommateur ? : les mutations rhétoriques et politiques au Royaume-Uni (Clermont Ferrand, Presses Universitaires Blaise Pascal, 2006) ; “Social Ecology in the British City”, Ranam, n°36 (Strasbourg, Université Marc Bloch, 2003) ; “Environmentalism in France & Britain during the 1970s”, Dealing with Diversity : Proceedings, 2nd International Conference of the European Society for Environmental History (Prague, Charles University, 2003), “UK General Elections 2010 : The Environment”, Revue Française de Civilisation Britannique, vol. XVI, n°1, 2011 ; and “Climate Change in Britain : Policy and Politics” (Lyon, Université Jean Moulin, 2012).

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