Azara Blog: Tony Juniper wants to be MP for Cambridge

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Date published: 2009/11/15

In Cambridge, as in many other parliamentary constituencies elsewhere in the UK, the forthcoming election (allegedly in May 2010 or near enough) will provide a once in a generation opportunity for fresh faces to become MPs. So the sitting Lib Dem MP, David Howarth, has for some reason suddenly decided not to stand again. And the proposed Tory candidate also suddenly withdrew. And even though the Labour candidate seems harmless enough, and even though the Cambridge MP would probably still have been Labour, rather than Lib Dem, were it not for the war in Iraq, it is hard to believe that Labour has any chance of winning the election this time around.

This means that it is ripe time for some other person to run in Cambridge. And that seems to mean Tony Juniper, who is the candidate for the Green Party. Unless the Tories or Lib Dems come up with some credible candidate, it is quite possible that Juniper will become MP.

Today someone dropped off a leaflet for Juniper in Arbury. Now the Green Party is the party of the academic middle class (as are the Lib Dems). And Cambridge is obviously very academic middle class. So the city is natural territory for the Greens, even if Arbury is not (being one of the few parts of the city that still has many ordinary working class people in it).

Unfortunately this leaflet is full of the usual content-free jargon one expects from political parties, which is a bit disappointing given that the Greens always claim they are somehow morally superior to the other parties (of course they are not). So we are told that the "Green Party has become increasingly popular in the City of Cambridge with a vote increase of 15% since 2005!". Well, when you start with near zero there is only one way to go.

The leaflet also claims that Juniper has "a thorough understanding of local issues" but provides no indication that that is true. Of course anyone who has lived in Cambridge for 20 years is bound to know something about "local issues", but that is not saying very much. And indeed he has spent a large chunk of his life working in London for Friends of the Earth and he probably knows more about London than Cambridge.

In the leaflet he modestly claims to have "effectively introduced the Climate Change Act" (one of the many ill-thought-out pieces of legislation that Labour introduced in the past decade) while he was director of FoE. Although the leaflet doesn't mention it, he is also one of the people who campaigned against so-called GM food (in particular he took part in the "debate" at the government-sponsored event in Cambridge many years ago). As such, he has delayed a crucial technology for the world, and could be deemed part responsible for the hunger of hundreds of millions of people, now and into the future.

The leaflet says that Juniper supports a "sustainable economy" and that the Greens want "an environmentally sustainable future". But how "sustainable" is it to be a London commuter, travelling over 100 miles by train each day to get to work? One of the major problems Cambridge faces is expensive housing, and one of the reasons housing is so expensive is that London commuters have pushed prices up. How "sustainable" is that? One of the major problems the world faces is over-population, indeed this is the major reason that emissions are such an issue. Juniper has three children. How "sustainable" is that? For the sake of name recognition the Green Party has chosen a candidate who has failed some of the basic "sustainability" tests.

It is hard to believe that Juniper would do anything for the people of Cambridge if he were elected as MP, because he has never shown any interest in Cambridge itself. Instead he would just take being an MP as an opportunity to grandstand his particular views of the world. He sees his stage as being the country and the world, not Cambridge.

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