Delivering the Green Message

As we look back on 25 years of Green World and ahead to the future of the publication in digital form, Caroline Lucas, MP and co-leader of the Green Party, discusses how communicating Green policies has changed over the years and how it must continue to do so to build on the success of the past quarter century

Caroline Lucas

It's easy to forget how much the Green Party has changed in the past few decades - and how much progress we've made. When I joined the party in 1986 - after reading Jonathan Porritt's seminal book, Seeing Green - we were tiny. Our headquarters then, a cramped, cupboard-like once on the first door of a building on Clapham High Street, were a symbol of both our down-to-earth nature, and our distance from power.

Things have changed dramatically since then - not least because the party has grown smarter with age, and learnt how to balance our radicalism with the realities of winning elections in a system that's designed to shut us out.

Perhaps the most significant change we've made, and the one which has allowed us to go beyond appealing to a small core of voters, has been to more effectively demonstrate that our policies - while centred on the overwhelming importance of a safe, healthy and sustainable environment - go far wider than the environment alone.

Some of the most effective work we've done to widen our appeal has been when we started speaking confidently about anti-austerity economics after the financial crash. When all of the other parties signed up to deep, damaging cuts to public services, we joined campaigners in demanding an alternative, tying a progressive investment plan to the creation of meaningful jobs, affordable, zero carbon homes and a clean energy system that has environmental protection at its heart. Our success in the 2015 general election was testament, in part, to that alternative vision, and it gave birth to a much wider political consensus against austerity, thus giving us more space to talk about bolder policies beyond the Westminster Consensus.

An important part of my co-leadership with Jonathan Bartley, has been that we've been able to articulate some of the most far-reaching policies ever debated in the political mainstream of British politics, because we are now seen as a credible force on issues beyond environmental protection alone. To have the opportunity to talk in depth about sustainable economics, discussing Universal Basic Income on Woman's Hour, or sitting on Marr's sofa for a long debate on a shorter working week really has been hugely significant, not just for our party but for the wider political debate in the UK.

It's not just communicating alternative economics that's been successful for the Green Party - we've also fine tuned our local messaging to really demonstrate how much of a difference we make in people's communities. We now have more councillors than ever, thanks in particular to the work of dedicated and talented party staff who have helped local parties get their message across to local residents. Whether it's lobbying for safer transport options in Islington, installing solar panels in Kirklees, or putting bodies in the line of environmental destruction in Sheffield, Green councillors make a huge difference, and we're better than ever at telling their story.

When the worst edition of Green World was published, perhaps some readers wouldn't have believed that the co-leader of their party would be writing a column for the 100th edition from her o ce in the House of Commons. I hope they'd have been pleased to know that we have MEPs in three regions, and councillors in every corner of this country, and that we have staff working across the country, paid for by the membership fees of tens of thousands of members.

Our job now is to make the unimaginable happen again, to make the successes I've described here seem small, and to redouble our e orts to gain political power and shake things up entirely.