Greens: Right(ish) Party, Wrong Candidate…

Green Party leader Caroline Lucas, who would make a great MP

There never has, and I doubt whether there ever will be, a political party whose programme, policies and manifesto I agree with 100%. I think the only person you should agree with 100% politically is yourself, and even that should be provisional.

However, my general rule of thumb when thinking about how to vote at elections is to look for a worthwhile ‘Left’ political party on the ballot paper. Hence I voted for the West Midlands Socialist Alliance in the ’99 Euros, London Socialist Alliance in the 2000 Greater London Assembly elections, Lorna Reid of the Independent Working Class Association for London Mayor in 2004 and No2EU-Yes2Democracy in last year’s European Elections.

When I cannot find a worthwhile ‘Left’ party/candidate to vote for, my default voting position is Green. I have been a Green Party member in the past and leafleted for them on occasion. Despite going to supermarkets on a regular basis and usually being an airline passenger a couple of times a year (there and back again), I do try and recycle and generally leave the planet in a good state. I think, overall, the Green Party are A Good Thing. I think they are good for London. If London did not have parks, its public transport system and the river Thames, which I think are all very eco-friendly, London would be a truly horrible place to live. I see the Greens being defenders of what makes London livable. That’s why I have no qualms about voting Green in London-wide and local council elections, and will vote Green in the elections for Camden Council on May 6th. I have also sent them a £10 cheque to help with their campaigning costs.

A lot of Green Party policies I have time for. I voted Green at the 2005 General Election, mainly because I thought they were right about the two main issues facing the country then. That is, they were opposed both to the war in Iraq and the proposed EU Constitution (as was). I hope this time they win a few seats. For instance, Caroline Lucas in Brighton Pavilion and Adrian Ramsay in Norwich South.

However, this time I am not voting Green in the General Election. The main reason is that I cannot vote for Beatrix Campbell, the Green candidate for Hampstead and Kilburn. Frankly, I think she is an appalling candidate. There are two main reasons I cannot vote for her.

First, she believes in Satanic Ritual Abuse of children. For a former member of the Communist Party, one would expect a bit of materialist scepticism about such hocus-pocus- and dangerous hocus-pocus to boot. Instead, she became a leading media cheerleader for a moral panic.

‘And if  the fire starts going out, she said we can use some back-copies of Marxism Today…’

To quote from Private Eye (No.1240 July 2009):

FOLLOWERS of the career of Marxist feminist Green party candidate and republican journalist Beatrix Campbell were astonished when she was awarded an OBE for services to equal opportunities in the Queen’s birthday honours last month (Eye 1239). Campbell was one.of the first proponents of a belief in the Satanic ritual abuse myth in the early 1990s and remained resolutely vocal in support, together with a network of believers, long after government commissioned research by Professor Jean La Fontaine, concluded in 1994 there was no evidence to support the claims. Before and even since that report, dozens of families were devastated by false allegations that they were devil worshipping paedophiles sexually abusing children in Satanic rituals that included drinking blood and urine and sacrificing animals and babies.

In the 1990s Campbell also wrote in defence of the now discredited ‘recovered memory” therapy after which adult patients alleged they had been sexually abused in childhood. Professional regulatory bodies have since warned practitioners such recovered memory techniques could implant false memories.

Campbell and her partner Judith Jones (formerly Dawson), a social worker involved in the notorious Nottingham case in which social workers came to believe a genuine and vile case of incest was “Satanic”, wrote a book, Stolen Voices: An exposure of the Campaign to Discredit Childhood Testimony, due to be published in November 1999. In fact it was a diatribe against anyone who dared question the existence of ritual abuse and whether some allegations of abuse might be false and it had to be withdrawn on the eve of publication following extensive complaints of inaccuracies and threats of legal action for libel.

Two pre-publication reviews give a flavour. The Independent described it as “a polemic, salted with emotive language and sarcastic commentary”. It concluded: “Its authors are so blinded by ideology that they do a disservice to the people they claim to represent.” And in a scathing review in the Evening Standard, La Fontaine, who had debunked ritual abuse, wrote: “The authors use personal attack to advance their view. .. The use of innuendo is distasteful and, where I can judge them, the ‘facts’ are not true.”

Earlier, at the height of the Satanic panic, in October 1990, Campbell had also produced a much panned documentary for Channel4’s Dispatches programme, in which she claimed to reveal evidence of Satanic child abuse in Nottingham. . The Nottinghamshire chief constable, Dan Compton, whose officers had exhaustively investigated the allegations of ritual abuse and murder made by social workers (including Campbell’s partner Judith Dawson/Jones), sent a dossier to the home secretary “to kill off once and for all” the claims of ritual abuse. He accused Campbell’s film of “sensationalising unsubstantiated stories”. At least the OBE will look better on the Campbell CV than the pulped book and derided documentary.

The other main reason I cannot vote for her is her whole attitude towards the Monarchy. She was one of those vaguely ‘on the Left’ types (Beatrix Campbell is the sort of person the Mail and Telegraph like calling ‘the Left’. My general reaction is ‘what on Earth do people like that have to do with me?’) who saw the public reaction to the death of Princess Diana in early September 1997 as some sort of pro-Republican ‘People’s Revolution’ in Britain. Anyone who could have come to that conclusion should have really kept their head down and discussed other matters in the months afterwards, but not Bea. When feminist writer Joan Smith published Different for Girls in 1998, it included a critical piece on Diana written before her death, suggesting she may have not been the feminist icon some (a certain B. Campbell, for instance?) claimed.

In a review of Smith’s book, Beatrix Campbell wondered aloud ‘Did anyone at Chatto wonder whether they should pulp this book?’ (‘Where books are pulped in the end people will be pulped’?) Furthermore, Campbell denounced Different for Girls as ‘a raggy and rageful anthology which begins audaciously with a lazy leftist pout about Princess Diana’, which ‘lacked empathy.’

‘We cannot stand a lack of empathy’, bawled one outraged Diana fan.

‘Lacking empathy’ towards Diana is not something one can claim Beatrix Campbell’s Diana, Princess of Wales: How Sexual Politics Shook the Monarchy of being short of. Campbell says Diana was a ‘Republican’, which may be a bit of a surprise to her sons. Moreover, ‘there can never be enough books’ about Diana (except, presumably, critical ones). For  she was a veritable revolutionary for our times, claims Campbell:

‘To the chagrin of the Establishment, the recovery of her self-respect was to be witnessed by millions. By telling her story, Diana joined the constituency of the rejected- the survivors of harm and horror, from the holocaust, from world war and pogroms, from Vietnam and the civil wars of South America and South Africa, from torture and child abuse.’

As Nick Cohen, from whom I rescued Campbell’s bon mots, comments (Cruel Britannia, pp.50-2):

‘Let me see if I can get this right. Marrying into the…Windsor family is the equivalent of being napalmed in Vietnam. Having affairs with rich young men is the equivalent of being beaten in a Cape Town jail. Bulimia is torture. Diana and the survivors of Nazi death camps are identical, and those who write otherwise must have their books pulped.’

Then, as the Private Eye piece above alludes to, Beatrix Campbell accepted an OBE in June 2009, claiming ‘the gesture affirms our necessity; the radicals – not the royalists – are the best of the British’. Yeah, right…I think you’re betraying Diana’s ‘Republican’ legacy myself,  Beatrix…

So, perhaps it is just me, but I think Beatrix Campbell is a bloody awful candidate for the Green Party in Hampstead and Kilburn and I will vote for someone else. I know it is often said you should vote for the Party and not the Person, but in this case, to use a feminist slogan, The Personal Is Political.


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One CommentLeave a comment

  1. Good point. You could vote for Tamsin Omond the eco-activist who is standing in your constituency with her own party ‘The Commons’. She should really be in The Greens.
    James W

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