One of the myths of British politics is that people do not vote on green issues. In fact, seats are won or lost on the environment, albeit generally the local environment. Local politicians know the intensity of feeling about litter, street cleaning and the state of public parks. In national elections, housing is a big issue, particularly new housing in the countryside when more sustainable alternatives are available.
I attended a hustings during the Rochester and Strood by-election as a local resident. The first 20 minutes were devoted to plans to build 5,000 houses at Lodge Hill, a nature rich Site of Special Scientific Interest. Housing in the countryside also dominated the Eastleigh by-election earlier in this parliament, and the issue will decide seats in the coming election.
People care about places; whether they are iconic landscapes or the streets, fields and parks they see every day. So the question of what housing and other infrastructure we need, where it should go, and how it should be built is a major preoccupation of the members – voters – of all green groups.
Green groups’ membership is more than all the parties
So I am delighted that CPRE will be involved in the election hustings hosted by the Greener Britain coalition of NGOs, organisations whose collective membership (of voters) is far greater than that of all the political parties put together. You will be able to watch the event on 23 March online here and pose questions to the politicians taking part using the hashtag #GreenerBritain. Who needs TV debates, when the big questions will already have been covered at this event?
The Greener Britain coalition members work closely together, but in a remarkably un-blobby way. We all have our own particular concerns. CPRE’s focus in the run up to the election is on housing, infrastructure (what do the parties think about the biggest roads programme for 50 years?) and landscape. But the full gamut of environmental policies will be covered by leading politicians from four parties.
Bill Bryson’s question
The debate takes place in London on 23 March from 6.30pm. If you can make it, please register here. And if you cannot come, do join in online.
Bill Bryson, a CPRE vice president, has already submitted his question:
“The amount of litter along most British roads is rapidly becoming a national disgrace. What are you going to do about it?”
What would your question be? Let us know using the #GreenerBritain hashtag.