Remaining Green, and Other Worries about Tory EU Funders

There are many good reasons for voting to Leave the EU, which is why I will be doing so in the morning.

Others on the Left can, in principle, agree on the multitude of arguments that exist for backing a vote to Leave, but say that we shouldn’t do it now because too many right-wing Tories have hijacked the debate.

This worry has led to some individuals on the Left, who are voting Remain, to become consumed by the misinformed idea that if we leave the EU the only people who will benefit will be the rightwingers. Not so.

Either way, in an effort to win over people like myself, this has led despairing-Remainers to conflate principled socialist campaigns with the unprincipled scaremongering official campaigns being waged by everybody else (be they Remain or Leave).

On top of all this, the mainstream media has played an appalling role during this entire debate (nothing new or unexpected there) in refusing to give media time to the socialist case for Leaving the EU. Although, to be fair, my local newspaper, the Leicester Mercury, did publish my first-person article on this matter earlier today, making it the first socialist argument for Leaving that they had published.

So, earlier this evening, when I re-posted this rare first-person article on Facebook, some people on the Left took offence. One such person was influential Leicester Green Party member Chris Williams, who commented below my post:

“So, I just found out that a Tory [Robin Birley] who helped fund Pinochet and RENAMO has been funding a ‘left’ exit campaign (‘Green Leaves’). Does that worry you?”

Chris’s statement did not particularly worry me, as the Socialist Party (to which I belong) and TUSC, with whom I campaign, take a principled approach to campaigning and refuse to accept funding from Tories and fat cat elites — and subsequently refused to campaign alongside the official rightwing Leave campaign.

Of course it is entirely reasonable that Chris was worried about the funding of a small left-leaning group within his own Party, but, if his funding concern proved true, it is hardly surprising. I say this because the official Remain campaign of the Green Party is openly collaborating with David Cameron and company, and Caroline Lucas (the Green’s only MP) signed-up to a leaflet (“10 Green Reasons for Remaining in Europe”) that supported the EU’s Emissions Trading Scheme — a farcical scheme that is usually totally opposed by the Green Party.

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I find it problematic that ‘Green Leaves’ may have accepted funding from Tory Robin Birley, but this is hardly the first time that this has happened — which is one of many reasons why I am not a member of the Green Party. Chris, however, thought it was “a big deal”, as in a separate post made on the Leicester Green Party Facebook group, he explained: “Remainers like me think that people trying to make a ‘progressive case for exit’ are in fact playing into the hands of Tories and UKIP.”  Oh really?

Robin Birley, for those who don’t know, has three half-siblings through his mother’s second marriage to Sir James Goldsmith, the most notable of these being the monumental racist Tory London Mayoral candidate Zac Goldsmith.

Funding for green politics by ultra-rightwingers like Mr Birley however is nothing new, as city financier Sir James Goldsmith was a famous and integral funder of both Tory Eurosceptism and the green movement, being a founder of both the Ecology Party and The Ecologist magazine (which Zac edited until 2007).

It is also worth noting that Robin Birley, like Zac, has an interest in green capitalism, and his former carbon trading company, Envirotrade, had a major moneymaking project in Mozambique that was “initially funded by European Commission (EC) money.” Later criticisms of this project led to the production of a damming report titled “Carbon Discredited: Why the EU should steer clear of forest carbon offsets”.

This brings me back to the Green Party, as ironically the aforementioned eco-pamphlet that has just been supported by Caroline Lucas misinforms its readers that: “The EU’s Emissions Trading Scheme is a key tool to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from industries across Europe at the lowest cost.”

This is relevant to the entire Birley-affair because the Green Party’s own energy policy is extremely dismissive of the EU’s Emissions Trading Scheme, partly no doubt because it has led to the funding of corrupt business schemes like the one that was run by Robin Birley. Hence the Green’s current policy document refers to it as the “discredited EU-Emissions Trading Scheme (EU-ETS) that has been so ineffective at reducing emissions”.

So when it comes to worrying, I guess that Chris should stop worrying about the coming Exit from the EU, and instead should start worrying about the future of his own Party.

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