AFTER serving my sentence at the electoral coalface as a Green Party candidate in countless elections in the Noughties and reaching the dizzy heights of animal welfare spokesman, I resigned in 2008.
This was because I was unable to justify the party’s environmentally disastrous policies, such as unlimited immigration, which would see the country concreted over to provide millions of new homes while driving down wages for the poorest in society.
I really had no wish to return to politics. But, as a passionate Brexiteer, I reluctantly agreed to become the Brexit Party’s Prospective Parliamentary Candidate for the South London seat of West Norwood, the most pro-EU constituency after Gibraltar. This happened at the last minute, when the original candidate was threatened with the sack if he stood.
With only a few days before nomination papers were to be handed in, and with brilliant candidates similarly threatened with bullying and prejudice, I knew I must do my duty and return to the stump.
My campaign began by attending an Extinction Rebellion hustings. I wasn’t as terrified as you might think, as I’m used to green trustafarians, being related to quite a few of them. In fact, I invented the term ‘eco-toff’ in the Nineties to describe us all.
I also knew I’d be the greenest person there, as – unlike most climate protesters – I am not flying constantly around the world on a gap yah and posting the evidence on Instagram.
When I lived off Sloane Square, I installed the first solar panels in the area and received planning permission for a wind turbine. I also kept rescue battery chickens on the roof, who ate all our leftovers (the EU has banned feeding leftovers, but I like to live dangerously) and provided us with eggs.
While I no longer have chickens, I recycle all my food waste in a compost wormery and flush the loo with my bathwater. I rarely fly and use a Lakeland drying contraption to heat my flat for 4p an hour instead of putting my central heating on. In fact, if my carbon emissions get any lower, I’m going to have to eat coal.
I was also looking forward to sharing the environmental advantages of leaving the EU – we can ban the unpopular and horrendous live export of animals from our ports (which the EU forbids) and stop EU super-trawlers from decimating our fish stocks, support sustainable fishing practices, stop paying our richest landowners millions in subsidies not to grow food (the Duke of Norfolk is paid £478,000 a year) and no longer be involved in the carbon-busting monthly perambulation of the European Parliament from Strasbourg to Brussels for starters.
On the big day, I dressed carefully in my oldest clothes (as the only Leaver in Putney, I haven’t bought anything new for years, as I don’t want to draw attention to myself), and gingerly climbed on to the platform which I was sharing with the terrifying gimlet-eyed New Labour apparatchik Helen Hayes and Jonathan Bartley, the amiable and wildly-PC deputy of the Not-Very-Green Party.
The platitudes slipped off Helen’s silver tongue as she described how Labour was going to spend billions to save the world without the rest of us having to do anything at all.
Moreover, to cope with its environmentally-disastrous policy of unlimited immigration, it wants to build a million houses and HS2 – I have no idea how her conscience could square the sacrifice of hundreds of ancient woodlands in HS2’s path as well as the Green Belt.
‘I’ve taken up cycling!’ she cried to claps and adulation. But Kevin from the community shop told me in the pub afterwards that when she visits, she is always dropped off and picked up in a car and nobody has ever seen her on a bike.
My suggestions of taking personal responsibility for climate change by switching to green energy providers, flying less, growing more of our own food, avoiding plastic and switching off lights were derided by Jonathan and Helen, who insisted improving the world was not up to individuals but solely the job of the government.
After the event, I had to be bundled out after being savaged by a terrifying German man who took offence at my plan to grow more of our own food. ‘YOU VANT ME TO STARVE!’ he screamed, waving his arms around in my face. ‘HOW DARE YOU SAY BRITISH PEOPLE NEED TO GROW MORE VEGETABLES! DON’T YOU WANT ME TO EAT?’
That, and the endless abusive emails I receive every day, caused me to stop campaigning publicly. When asked, ‘What are the issues on the doorstep?’, I must confess I haven’t a clue. The only doorstep I’ve been on is my own.
Jonathan was the next one in the firing line when ambushed by a BBC hack a week later, who asked what he thought of halal meat. ‘Well, I’m a vegan and I’d like to ban it,’ he said quite reasonably, given that the Not-Very-Green Party used to have extremely strong animal welfare policies.
Sadly for him, he then mentioned that he was a Christian. Then all hell broke lose on social media, calling for his resignation for Islamophobia and White Supremism.
To my horror, he immediately issued a gushing apology for causing offence, explaining that the Not-Very-Green Party did not want to ban halal and kosher meat, despite the RSPCA and Compassion in World Farming insisting that non-stunned animals suffer horrendously in slaughterhouses.
No doubt they will now support bullfighting so as not to offend Spanish sensibilities, the Korean dog meat trade and French foie gras production.
Disappointingly, the Green Party no longer even wishes to ban the live export of animals, only to reduce it, its manifesto stating: ‘The Green Party will seek to minimise live transport of animals and will work through the EU and locally to end all live exports for slaughter.’
Ironically, the EU caused many small, family-run abattoirs to close down as the regulations they imposed cost hundreds of thousands of pounds to implement – which favoured huge industrial, poorly-monitored slaughterhouses. There were 30,000 abattoirs in 1930, but by 2017 there were only 249.
Again we see how the EU favours big business, creating an unfair playing field for smaller operators. Obviously, abattoirs need to be highly regulated, but expensive red tape results in animals now facing horrendously long journeys to get to an EU-approved abattoir.
When I represented the Greens in the Noughties, we were a mixed, well-meaning, unfashionable mostly Eurosceptic crew who believed that the EU project, promoting endless industrial development and growth, didn’t fit with the Green vision of a future lived on a more human scale.
Halalgate and the party’s failure to call out environmentally nightmarish policies such as EU super-trawlers or the ripping up of sustainable traditional methods of farming in eastern Europe and replacing them with heavily industrialised agribusiness, shows the Greens are now without moral scruple and have turned into a slick corporate vote machine who will say anything to be elected.
The Brexit Party reminds me of the Green Party back then in that it is similarly a broad church whose candidates really believe in something, but are not always so good at slippery soundbites.
None of us is a professional politician, we’ve all been vilified and some have sadly lost their jobs. Most of us are longing for the election to be over so we can get back to our lives.
After my sixth election as a candidate, I now believe pressure groups such as Peta and Friends of the Earth do far more than politicians. However, I will never regret nailing my colours to the mast to fight for something I truly believe in.