Greens accused of ‘betrayal’ for backing LibDems in Richmond

The Greens in south London have got themselves into a bit of a lather, after the environmentally concerned party decided not to contest the Richmond Park parliamentary by-election, and instead support the LibDems in an effort to beat Zac Goldsmith.

The decision has been described by the single Green-supporting councillor in Sutton, Croydon and Bromley as a “capitulation” and “an environmental betrayal” .

Nick Mattey

Anti-incinerator councillor Nick Mattey says the Greens’ decision not to contest the Richmond Park by-election is a ‘betrayal’

For the past six years the Greens in Croydon and Sutton have taken the battle all the way to the High Court against the local LibDems and their polluting incinerator at Beddington Lane.

“How can you trust the LibDems on environmental issues when in LibDem-controlled Sutton they are building a polluting incinerator in the constituency of their only London MP?” Nick Mattey, a Sutton councillor, said.

Mattey was kicked out of the Liberal Democrat party for highlighting the polluting potential of the £1 billion Viridor incinerator scheme, being built with public money in his ward. While Mattey continues to sit on the council formally as an independent, he has aligned himself with the Greens.

“Giving up core values of protecting our planet is not progressive,” Mattey said. “The LibDems cannot be trusted.”

Mattey described the Greens’ decision to support the LibDems in the Richmond Park by-election as a “capitulation”.

Calling for Londoners “to fight LibDem environmental hypocrisy”, Mattey said: “Giving the LibDems a free pass is not bold. It’s an environmental betrayal.”

The Richmond Park by-election has been called after multi-millionaire Goldsmith resigned his seat to fulfil a pledge if a Conservative government approved plans for a third runway at Heathrow. Goldsmith, who tries to make much of his environmental credentials, was elected to parliament in 2010 having made that promise after the then Tory leader David Cameron had said, “No ifs, no buts, no third runway at Heathrow”.

So much for that, then…

The new Tory Prime Minister Theresa May last month endorsed plans for a third runway at Heathrow. Goldsmith duly resigned, and said he would stand in the by-election as an independent. As part of another Establishment stitch-up, to make it easier for Goldsmith, May’s Conservatives have decided not to field a Tory candidate against him.

Goldsmith also has the backing of UKIP.

And this is where problems with any “progressive alliance” begin to arise.

Heath-No really? Tom Brake, to the right of picture, has supported a polluting incinerator in his own constituency, but opposes a third runway at Heathrow in Richmond Park

Heath-No really? Tom Brake, the LibDems’ last MP in London (to the right of picture), has supported a polluting incinerator in his own constituency, but now opposes a third runway at Heathrow ahead of the Richmond Park by-election

The Greens say that they want to ensure that the Brexit-backing, runway-building Tories and UKIPpers are dealt a bloody nose, and therefore they have opted not to split the anti-Goldsmith vote on December 1.

Susan Kramer had held the seat for the LibDems until 2010. Goldsmith retained the seat in 2015 with a whopping increased majority of 23,000 votes, after the FibDems had been part of the Tory-led government for the previous five years. The Greens polled just 3,500 votes in Richmond Park in 2015.

The Greens in south London are already going through the process of candidate selection for parliamentary seats in case of a snap General Election. It has been suggested that Richmond Park is a costly diversion which the small party cannot afford to contest properly. Running campaigns eats up party funds: in a council by-election in nearby Reigate last week, the Green candidate, Sasha Khan, a Croydon resident, finished last with just 55 votes, and was criticised for failing to conduct much of a campaign at all.

If the Greens hoped that Labour might be part of their money-saving “progressive alliance” of the left in Richmond Park, they will be disappointed, as yesterday Christian Wolmar, the journalist and former Mayoral campaigner, was selected as their candidate.

“There have been suggestions that Labour should not stand in this election, since the Tories have withdrawn and we need to unite around an anti-Brexit candidate,” Wolmar said. “This would be a big mistake. Labour needs to fly the flag here. We may be facing a general election within a year. To absent ourselves, abandoning our voters and demonstrating nationally that we are not up for the fight, would be a big mistake.”

Wolmar has also voiced strong opposition to the Beddington incinerator which is being built on the boundary of Croydon and Sutton.

Christian Wolmar: advises candidates to 'be brave' on transport and cycling policies. Photo by Mike King

Christian Wolmar: Labour’s candidate in Richmond Park. Photo by Mike King

And Wolmar, a transport expert with strong environmental credentials who has been a long-time opponent of airport expansion, has already outlined his campaign themes for the by-election, effectively turning it into a localised referendum on Brexit. Goldsmith is a committed Brexiteer, having learned anti-EU sentiment on his father’s knee: Sir James Goldsmith founded an the Referendum Party, a right-wing forerunner of UKIP.

“I can say categorically that if elected, I would vote against Article 50,” Wolmar said – just days after three High Court judges ruled that MPs should get to vote on Brexit terms negotiated by May and her three stooges, Boris Johnson, Liam Fox and David Davies.

Wolmar is well aware that in June, 72 per cent of the electorate in Richmond Park voted to Remain in the EU, making Europe Goldsmith’s electoral Achilles’ heel against other candidates who also oppose Heathrow expansion.

“I will be the anti-Brexit candidate,” Wolmar said, “and as such the one who best represents the views of the majority of its constituents. Leaving Europe will be such a disaster for Britain, as many recent news items have revealed, that we must do everything in our power to prevent it.

“Crucially, being anti-austerity must be a cornerstone of Labour policy, in contrast to the LibDems, who were in partnership in the Coalition that introduced it in the first place,” said Wolmar.

“That does not mean blindly opposing every cut or change in government spending patterns. It does, though, mean having a coherent economic alternative, based on investment, supporting small businesses and tackling poverty.”

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This entry was posted in Christian Wolmar, Croydon Greens, Environment, Nick Mattey, Refuse collection, Shasha Khan, Sutton Council, Tom Brake MP, Waste incinerator, Zac Goldsmith MP and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Greens accused of ‘betrayal’ for backing LibDems in Richmond

  1. “How can you trust the LibDems on environmental issues when in LibDem-controlled Sutton they are building a polluting incinerator in the constituency of their only London MP?” Nick Mattey, a Sutton councillor, said.

    I would like to use this opportunity to describe a technical issue.
    In a land far,far away,a long time ago, was committed a war crime with persisting effects today.As a spin off from the use of Agent Orange,was a vast research programme trying to work out how it proved to be so devastating.What we know about dioxin toxicity today,comes from this research.First very,very tiny doses at hormone levels are all that’s needed.Second,the receptor is promiscuous,and can be set off by any aryl hydrocarbon structure.

    Google the AHR receptor….many hydrocarbon-rings get direct access to the cell nucleus in lots of cells.There are then triggered very many responses,depending on the cells affected.Different specialties concentrate on their own areas of interest,but it is the general,widespread potential that is so shocking.

    What connects diesel fumes, noxes, ozone, PAH’s , nanoparticles , cancer, asthma, COPD,heart disease, placental function, brain pathology and the immune system? The AHR receptor.

    Direct access to nuclear DNA

    The AHR receptor alters immune cell DNA to change cell populations and properties.

    Millions of individuals worldwide are afflicted with acute and chronic respiratory diseases, causing temporary and permanent disabilities and even death. Often these diseases occur as a result of altered immune responses. The aryl hydrocarbon receptor (AhR), a ligand-activated transcription factor, acts as a regulator of mucosal barrier function and may influence immune responsiveness in the lungs through changes in gene expression, cell–cell adhesion, mucin production, and cytokine expression. This review updates the basic immunobiology of the AhR signaling pathway with regards to inflammatory lung diseases such as asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and silicosis following data in rodent models and humans.

    Recent epidemiological studies have demonstrated associations between air pollution and adverse effects that extend beyond respiratory and cardiovascular disease, including low birth weight, appendicitis, stroke, and neurological/neurobehavioural outcomes (e.g., neurodegenerative disease, cognitive decline, depression, and suicide). To gain insight into mechanisms underlying such effects, researchers mapped gene profiles in the lungs, heart, liver, kidney, spleen, cerebral hemisphere, and pituitary of rats immediately and 24h after a 4-h exposure by inhalation to particulate matter and ozone. Pollutant exposure provoked differential expression of genes involved in a number of pathways, including antioxidant response, xenobiotic metabolism, inflammatory signalling, and endothelial dysfunction. The experimental data are consistent with epidemiological associations of air pollutants with extrapulmonary health outcomes and suggest a mechanism through which such health effects may be induced.

  2. shyn43 says:

    I just want a government that will do whatever is required to stop the air from being polluted.
    The greens claim to share the same desire.
    And if air pollution is truly detrimental to public health
    then why on earth are they backing the Lib dems whose track record on dealing with air pollution isn’t exactly Eco-Friendly?
    I can understand their desire to keep Zac Goldsmith out.
    But if it causes the public to accuse the greens of betrayal
    then that doesn’t make sense to me.

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