This is a critical moment for our world. If we don’t collaborate across borders now, the future is grim indeed.
Can you tell us a bit about your background?
I’m currently a professor of philosophy at the University of East Anglia, where I explore some of the most famous contributions to European thought from the ancient world. I also contribute to environmental philosophy and political economics. I’ve lived and worked in Norwich since 2010; before that I lived in Cambridge, commuting to Norwich weekly from 2003 to 2010. I first got involved with politics in my teens (while at a state grammar school in South London in the 1970s) because I was concerned about the environmental crisis. I returned to active political involvement and joined the Green Party when my children were grown up, around 2014.
Why did you decide to stand as an MEP this year?
I’m deeply upset by the way that our country has descended into xenophobia and anger, especially since Brexit. It was that realisation that my country was no longer recognisable as a country of which I could be proud that made me think I would volunteer to serve as a representative of the country I would like it to be.
How has campaigning been so far? What level of enthusiasm are you seeing for these elections?
There’s a surprisingly and delightfully warm reception, even in areas not traditionally associated with a remain vote. I’ve met several who’ve unthinkingly voted Conservative all their lives, but have recently stopped to ask why. It’s clear that the message of the children in the school strikes, of Greta Thunberg, and of Extinction Rebellion has caused many to rethink.
On the other hand, trust in our democracy has been deeply undermined for many by the experience of the referendum and its aftermath. This is a very dangerous situation, and we can already see the far right exploiting it. Our entire country and its democracy is in danger.
What is it like campaigning to be an MEP when it’s not clear that UK MEPs will take their seats in the European Parliament?
I am just assuming that if we are serious about the option for remaining, we should focus on what kind of EU we want to be in and what kind of policies we are looking to support there. I never stop to ask or to answer any question about ‘what if we don’t stay?’.
Why should people vote Green in the European elections?
This is a critical moment for our world. If we don’t collaborate across borders now, the future is grim indeed. In my view, the key thing is to deploy a new kind of economic “success” marker, that is nothing to do with GDP and is everything to do with how many trees we have planted!
If elected, what would your priorities be for your region on the European stage?
I shall be taking an interest in the Green economy, including off-shore wind, and in reform for the agricultural policy to improve subsidies to support small organic farming rather than large scale intensive farming with pesticides, petrochemical fertilisers and herbicides.
The region’s universities benefit from freedom of movement for recruiting researchers as well as EU funding for research. Our young people, both students and new graduates need opportunities to find work across Europe. We need to address the impending refugee crisis that will continue to be fuelled by climate change, by ensuring that sufficient funds flow in aid to areas outside the EU to support adaptation and resilience, and to prevent proxy wars in non-European regions.