Boris ought to be the Green Party’s natural second-preference candidate
It is astonishing that a party which professes to prioritise the environment is prepared to endorse a tax-dodging anti-Semite whose political priority appears to be to make London a beacon of Islam. For sure, Allah is as concerned as YHWH with the whole of creation, and doubtless he seeks to mitigate the destructive inclinations of its present caretaker-guardians. But Ken Livingstone is a charlatan and a chameleon: his skin is only green when it needs to be (ie, when seeking to dupe the Greens). When you cut him, he is crimson red to the core.
In 2000, Ken promised to ‘put the environment at the heart of London government and provide for comprehensive environmental assessment and monitoring of all strategies which the Mayor is required to produce’. He failed to do it. He promised to reduce road traffic by 15 per cent by 2010. He failed to do it. He promised to ‘take a personal lead in ensuring delivery of an effective programme of home insulation and other measures to end fuel poverty and the scandal of winter deaths from cold’. He failed to do it. In fact, the number of households in London suffering from fuel poverty increased from 108,000 in 2003 to 328,000 in 2008 – an increase of 204 per cent.
Ken also promised to set a target for London to create 10,000 jobs in new green businesses by 2005. He failed to do it. He promised to produce an annual statement of London’s contribution to fighting climate change. He failed to do it. He promised to protect both the outer London Green Belt and inner London open green spaces from development and promote new parkland. He failed to do it. Indeed, every year under Ken, an area of green garden space two-and-a-half times the size of Hyde Park was lost. And an area of vegetated garden land equivalent to 21 times the size of Hyde Park was lost between 1998-9 and 2006-8, which represents a 12 per cent reduction.
And still the Green Party endorses him?
If they could look beyond their own statist socialist inclinations, they would see that Boris Johnson is their natural second choice.
In 2008, he promised to make London a genuinely cycle-friendly city by introducing a central London cycle hire scheme and increasing the number of cycle parks. Viz. ‘Boris Bikes’, now with over 40,000 cycle parking spaces. He promised to protect green belt land and open space from development. Viz. The new London Plan, published in 2011, which commits to doing precisely that. He promised to protect against development on gardens. Viz. residential gardens are no longer classed as ‘previously developed land’ and boroughs are allowed to introduce a presumption against development on back gardens. He promised to invest in 10,000 street trees to improve the local neighbourhoods that need them most. Viz. Boris was delighted to plant the 10,000th tree on the 14th February 2012.
Boris also pledged to encourage every member of staff in the GLA, TfL, MPA, and LFEPA, to do one day a year volunteering for a green charity. Viz. he has given all Greater London Authority staff three days a year leave for volunteering activities. He promised to make recycling easier and more convenient through innovative approaches, such as paying Londoners to recycle. Viz. in 2010 Boris launched a trial of a scheme called Recycle Bank which gives householders shopping vouchers or donations to charity to the value of how much they recycle. Since he became Mayor, recycling rates have increased from 25 per cent in 2007/8 to 32 per cent in 2010/11.
Further, with changes made to over 1,000 traffic light signals, Boris has vastly improved the flow of London’s traffic, so reducing carbon emissions. He continues to lobby the Government to stop the expansion of Heathrow; the hybrid bus programme will see 300 new hybrid buses introduced by the end of this year; and he has inaugurated the Mayor’s Low Carbon Prize for new research into low carbon technology, to promote innovation. The first winner was announced in ceremony at City Hall on 7th March 2012. The £20,000 award, sponsored by the Berkeley Group, was a student from Kingston University for his ‘green key’ to supply ‘new residents with an electronic key containing up to date information on local services and ideas to help them live more sustainably’.
And Boris has achieved all of this while freezing his council tax precept for the past three years to protect Londoners from further tax rises while maintaining London’s public services.
Conservatives naturally seek to conserve, and that includes the whole of creation. Conservatives might look to the Psalmist for their founding charter, for he sings: 'The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it; for He founded it upon the seas and established it upon the waters (Ps 24:1f). Belief in God is not a prerequisite for being conservative, but neither does conservatism repudiate such belief. Creation is good not only because God says so, but because it is. Certainly, we may debate the extent and manner of that goodness, and disagree on how best to maintain it. And we may meditate or ponder whether or not the life of man is worth more than that of a sparrow. But this does not negate the natural Conservative instinct and politico-philosophical priority to conserve.
That the Green Party endorses Ken establishes beyond doubt that Green is the new Red. Like Ken, they reject privatisation and free-market economics. They support big-state public ownership, unbridled workers' rights, illiterate economic democracy and ‘progressive’ taxation (ie Socialist redistribution). For those Greens who genuinely care about prioritising the environment, Boris really is the only choice.