Monday, 7 July 2014

Political history: Our original British ecologists-where are they now?

In my spare time recently, I have been researching the history of the Ecology/Green Party, and in particular our candidates from ages past (by which I mean the 1970s and 1980s). In particular, I have been able to locate an archive containing all the names of the Ecology candidates from the 1979 general election, and I can trace at least the London ones of the 1983 general election (and also Ecology candidates of London from the 1981 Greater London Council election and London borough elections of 1982).

I have noticed many of them are still active, or at least were active recently,in green politics of one form or another, particularly in the South West region. In the spirit of the 'where are they now?' posts of the total politics website, I have found out what happened to many of those original British Greens:

Don Grimes (contested Bath in 1979 and 1983): Don is thankfully still an active Green in Bath-he contested the Bath and North East Somerset local elections of 2011 (the most recent ones).
Nicholas Albery (contested Kensington in 1979): Nicholas sadly died in 2001, aged just 52.
Jonathan Porritt (contested St Marylebon in 1979, Kensington in 1983, and the London Central European Parliament seat in 1979 and 1984): Arguably the most famous of the original ecologists (at the time), Jonathan P. left the Ecology Party long ago and later founded the Forum for the Future with another original ecologist, Sara Parkin.
Chris Retallack (contested Bodmin in 1979): (unsure)
Brian Goodale (contested Hitchin in 1979): (unsure)
Jacky Dempsey (contested Bournemouth East in 1979): (unsure)
Gundula Dorey (contested Bristol North East in 1979, Bristol East in 1983, Bristol West in 1987): Gundula is still an active Green in Bristol.
John Ingham (contested Bristol West in 1979): No longer involved in active politics as far as I know, but John I. has since co-authored some books on environmental issues.
Peter Dunn (contested Reading South in 1979): Is this the same Professor Peter Dunn (who did much research into renewable energy, and one of his degrees was from the University of Reading) who died earlier this year?
Jonathan Tyler (contested Birmingham Edgbaston in 1979 and earlier the Walsall North by-election of 1976): During the 1980s, Jonathan T. briefly left the Green Party, but he returned and now lives in York, where he is still active as a Green.
Bert Pettit (contested Chippenham in 1979): (unsure)
Jeremy Faull (contested North Cornwall in 1979): Jeremy, one of the first ever Ecology/Green Party councillors, sadly died in 2011, aged 81.
Ray Burcham (contested Devizes in 1979): (unsure)
Tony Whittaker (contested North Devon in 1979, an earlier Coventry South East in October 1974): He is still around as far as I know, and was a founder member of People (the original name of our party).
Peter Frings (contested Exeter in 1979 and 1983): I noticed a Peter Frings who works with Cello PLC and obtained an ecology degree from the University of Exeter in the late 1970s-this might be him.
David Kerridge (contested South Gloucestershire in 1979): May be still active as a Green-unless I have confused him with another David Kerridge.
Hilary Bacon (contested Honiton in 1979): (unsure)
 Jim Keeling (contested Christchurch and Lymington in 1979): (unsure)
 Howard Hoptrough (contested St Ives in 1979 and 1983, Truro by-election of 1987, contested Cornwall and West Plymouth European seat in 1989): Still alive, but no longer politically active as far as I know.
 Richard Carder (contested North Somerset in 1979): Still active in Friends of the Earth.
 Geoffrey Garbett (contested Taunton in 1979): Now lives in Cornwall, and contested last year's elections for Cornwall Council on our behalf.
David Abrahams (contested Torbay in 1979): (unsure)
Sally Rodwell (contested Westbury in 1979): (unsure)
David Corry (contested Barkton Ash in 1979): Was active in Leeds Green Party for some time, but I am unsure of his current activity.
Clive Lord (contested Batley and Morley in 1979,earlier he contested Leeds North East in February 1974 then Batley and Spen in 1983, 1987, 1992, 1997, 2001, and 2005; contested Leeds European seat in 1989): Clive is still very active in Leeds-one of the Green Party's most dedicated supporters and he (almost certainly) holds the current record for most elections contested on the Green Party of England and Wales' behalf (local, national and European).
 Joyce Wade (contested Keighley in 1979): (unsure)
 David Whitbread (contested Loughborough in 1979): (unsure)
 Peter Sizer (contested Warwick & Leamington in 1979): (unsure, although a recent candidate in Waveney local elections, Stephen Sizer, may be a relative of his and might be able to tell me more)
John Davenport (contested Worcester in 1979): John was a councillor in Worcester for some time, although I am unsure of where he is now (is Laura Davenport, a prominent London Green Party member, his daughter or otherwise a relative?)
Guy Woodford (contested Worcestershire South in 1979, 1983, 1987, and 1992): Guy now lives in Herefordshire, where he still helps the Green Party.
John Beale (contested Brighton Pavilion in 1979): (unsure)
Nick Bagnall (contested Chichester in 1979): Now lives in New Zealand.
Colin Fry (contested Gillingham in 1979): (unsure)
Anne Rix (contested Rye in 1979, and Bexhill in 1983): Now lives in Devon; Anne contested Torridge council's elections as recently as 2007.
Peter Rout (contested Bedwelty in 1979):(unsure)
Brian Kingzett (contested Pembroke in 1979, Cardiff West in 1983, Gower in 1992): Brian was rather active in the Green Party for quite some time, but I have heard no recent news about him.
Cicely Marsh (contested Altrincham & Sale in 1979 and 1983): (unsure)
Anne Hill (contested Leeds East in 1979): (unsure)
Sara Parkin (contested Leeds North East in 1979): Sara Parkin led the 'green right' Green 2000 group within the Green Party, and then after the 1992 general election got recalled by Green Party members for her mistakes that almost ruined the Green Party of England and Wales. She left active politics and co-founded Forum for the Future with Jonathan Porritt. 
Keith Rushworth (contested Leeds North West in 1979): Keith was active in Leeds Green Party, but appears to have left in the 1990s.
Peter Lewenz (contested Pudsey in 1979): (unsure)
Alistair Laurence (contested Ripon in 1979, Leeds North West in 1983): (unsure)
David Pedley (contested Shipley in 1979): (unsure)
Biff Vernon (contested Beckenham in 1979): Biff now lives in Louth, Lincolnshire (apparently) and works with Transition Louth.
Irene Coates (contested Brentford & Isleworth in 1979): Irene (if this is the same Irene Coates who was also an author) now lives (or lived) in the Isle of Wight.
Steve Lambert (contested Chingford in 1979, Walthamstow in 1983): Steve still remains active in Waltham Forest Green Party, and contested local elections earlier this year in Hoe Street, as he has done for 36 years now.
David Smart (contested Dulwich in 1979): (unsure)
Geoffrey Syer (contested Hendon South in 1979): Appears to have since died (my research found an ecological event in his memory)
Adrian Williams (contested Islington Central in 1979): Adrian is still active in Islington Green Party, although he has not contested any other parliamentary elections.
Peter Hussey (contested Crosby in 1979 and 1983): I have found a recent letter of Peter's from 1996, but I have found no recent information about him.
Tim Pye (contested Lowestoft in 1979): (unsure)
George Hannah (contested Norwich North in 1979, Bermondsey by-election of 1983, and Saffron Walden in 1987): (unsure)
Stewart Biggar (contested Edinburgh South in 1979):(unsure)

Unlike Derek Wall (who in a few of his blog posts has written about the early history of the Green Party) I have only been in the Green Party a few years, and therefore have not actually experienced talking with most of the people above. Therefore, I have had to rely on internet research for much of this information. I still hope nevertheless that it is helpful.




  1. Fascinating and brilliant piece of research Alan. A few corrections/changes -

    Jonathan Porritt never left the Party - he is still a member.

    Brian Kingzett died several years ago - a great guy - Convenor of Population Policy Working Group for many years.

    Steve Lambert is, I believe, husband to Jean.

    Sara Parkin - very unfair and inaccurate information - where did you read that? She was not recalled in 1992, the motion was withdrawn. Nor did she make any mistakes (I'd love to hear what they are supposed to be anyway). If anything, it was the idiots who tried to recall that caused immense damage to the Party. At the time Sara was one the best known and highly respected Green politicians in the country, regularly appeared on Question Time, etc. and one of our greatest assets. But a determined group of dissenters harried and undermined her relentlessly such that in the end she felt she could achieve more for the Green Movement outside of the Party, whereupon she teamed up with Jonathan Porrit to create Forum for the Future. I was co-opted External Communications Coordinator on the very first GPEx, in 1992; Sara Parkin was Chair, Jean Lambert and Richard Lawson were the Principal Speakers.

    Green 2000 was not 'right wing'. How can you be a Green and right wing? Our policies then were just as crammed with social justice, equality, fairness, workers rights, etc. as they are now - they're all essential ingredients of ecological politics. Green 2000's mission was to re-organise the Party's governing structures to improve its efficiency and accommodate a massive increase in membership. It created GPEx and GPRC, and Jean Lambert was a leading member of it. I wrote a brief history of the Party for Green World up to 1998 which I'll post on my blog shortly.

    Anyway, many thanks for doing all that research. Really interesting.
    Peter Barnett

  2. Peter, I may have already seen that history via another archived link:

    Yes, I know that it is not really possible to be green and right-wing in practice (although a few ecological parties around the world, like the German ODP, still believe the delusion that they can be green and right wing). And I am well aware Steve Lambert is Jean's husband-I know both of them personally.

    There are also a few other Green activists of the past I am unsure about who were active in London-like Roger Shorter.


  3. Hi

    We left Hitchin in about 1981. We moved to the Melton Mowbray area and were pretty active in the EP there. Then we moved again in 1987. I’m not involved with the GP.

    Most recently, I was shocked that the GP chose to support Remain in the referendum. When I was active in the EP, a key policy was to devolve government to the lowest possible level, and as far as I know, that is still the case. The EU is a highly undemocratic institution that exists primarily to support corporate interests. In the referendum, there was a yawning gap where there should have been a principled left-wing and/or green argument for Leave. Filling this gap would have been in line with Green Party principles, and would have done the party a power of electoral good. A massive opportunity was missed.

    Overall, I have moved further and further to the left - well to the left of Labour and the Greens. My generation - I’m near retirement - has thrown away all the gains and opportunities provided by our parents. For me, green issues are still the most important, but political, social, and economic revolution has to come first. Unfortunately, the neoliberal, pro-globalisation, pro-corporate UK establishment is now firmly entrenched and will take some shifting. And anyway, no party shows any sign of wanting to shift it.

    Good luck. Brian Goodale