As the leader of the British Green Party and its first and only MP, Caroline Lucas is known for everything from her views on animal rights to her support of "direct action". When she was elected to represent Brighton Pavilion in May — a terribly middle-class area in the gay capital of Britain which appears to be full of muesli-eating students and London commuters — it was hailed as a "victory" for the party. But was it?
Although it may have been a personal breakthrough for Lucas, it wasn't reflected on a national scale. The Greens' share of the vote actually decreased 0.1 per cent to 1 per cent, less than the BNP. Lucas and her supporters may believe that she has made the party "electable", but look at the success of the German Greens compared to their British counterparts. Every major party in Germany has co-opted, adopted and even stolen Green policies, resulting in them becoming mainstream.
There can be no doubt that Lucas played down the role of environmental issues during the election. Claiming that the voters had responded to her wider agenda on social justice, she told the Guardian: "I would challenge the assumption that this was just an environmental vote. I was not elected on the back of environmental concerns alone."
The British Greens could be accused of giving environmentalism a bad name. "Lucas is just another ‘Have' telling the ‘Have Nots' how to live their lives," says the commentator Julie Burchill. "Always suspect a political movement which has NO leaders from the lower orders — they are guaranteed to be a bunch of hypocrites, scolds and bed-wetters."
Lucas says she is a feminist. Yet she has shared a platform with those who believe that adulterous females should be stoned to death. In 2004, Lucas supported the International Network Assembly for the Protection of Hijab (Pro-Hijab), which was formed in response to proposed headscarf bans in France and parts of Germany. Its aim was to "dispel myths about the hijab", to lobby to reverse bans already brought in and to prevent more "abuses of democracy" being imposed. Lucas joined the former Respect MP George Galloway and London's ex-mayor Ken Livingstone on the platform at the assembly's publicly-funded City Hall launch.
The guest of honour was Livingstone's old friend Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi, the head of the European Council for Fatwa and Research, who has spoken in favour of female genital mutilation, wife-beating, the execution of homosexuals in Islamic states, the destruction of the Jewish people, the use of suicide bombs against innocent civilians and the blaming of rape victims who do not dress modestly.