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>Why is CEE ahead in renewable energy generation?

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The EU’s latest targets for renewable energy generation throw up an interesting fact: that many CEE states have considerable highly levels of renewables than most West European states – and here ‘renewables’ as I understand it excludes (carbon neutral – possibly) nukes. Not too surprisingly Sweden comes in top, generating almost 40% renewably, but Latvia comes in second with 34% coming from renewables and states such as Romania and Slovenia easily outperform most old EU15 states, including those with a history of green politics such as Germany. The solution to this paradox, it turns out, is simple: the bulk of renewable electricity generation (including in Sweden) comes from hydro-power Whether this is a question of river systems or institutions (authoritarian communist central planning sweeping aside local objections over the destruction of local environment in ways democratic policy-making structures could not?) is an interesting question. Ultimately, however, the dispiriting picture is of a huge renewables gap, especially in the UK which comes in with a woeful 1.3% of renewable sources and a target, which might see us catch up with East European levels by 2020.

>Czech public opinion: underlying trends may favour Social Democrats

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While the Polish left languishes as an unwanted add-on in a political system dominated by conservative liberals and conservative populists, polling by CVVM in the Czech Republic points to the underlying strength of the Social Democrats (ČSSD) in that country. ČSSD enjoys a 6% (but oscillating) poll lead over the incumbent centre-right Civic Democrats and their leader ex-PM Jiří Paroubek (very unpopular) enjoys personal poll ratings only somewhat better than Civic Democrat leader and current PM Miroslav Topolánek (very, very unpopular). However, the real story is elsewhere in broader Czech attitudes to the country’s main political parties and views on issues of taxation and income differentials.

The Social Democrats come out in the Czech public mind as a strongly led party with a commitment to protecting the socially underprivileged rated even higher (72%) than that of the hardline Czech Communists (68%). At the same time, however, the party enjoys good rating for economic competence (44%) and is seen as more likely to promote the middle class (which we should perhaps take in the American sense of the term, since in Czech it is střední vrstva – the ‘middle layer’). The Civic Democrats (ODS) also have a clear profile, but are seen as rather more cynically power-seeking (75% – 60% for the Social Democrats) and hugely conflictual (67%, compared to 54% for the Social Democrats) despite efforts to promote themeselves as a party of the small- and medium-sized business, as a pary of business and the rich. Indeed, voters see them as less likely to promote middle class development (36%) than the Social Democrats (58%) or, incredibly, the Commuists (40%). They also rate worse than the Social Democrats on the economic competence question – only 42% thought ODS had programme, which would promote growth.

Meanwhile another survey suggests that, despite a liberal minority favouring flat(ter) taxes a clear majority of Czechs favour some form of progressive redistributive income tax. Although this view declines with income and education, it is widely held across all social groups, seeming to provide a certain empirical backing to the old cliché of the Czech as plebian, egalitarian nation. The bigger picture seems to be that although the liberal free market right represents a sizable chunk of Czech society, it is a minority corralled by a majority favouring some form of social market, ‘social-democratic’ a loose sense, not necessarily partisan sense. Despite the cynical attitude of Czechs towards all political parties – which narrow majorities pragmatically recognise as necessary for democracy – the Social Democrats, if they can translate it in terms of effective strategy (and so far they have good record of doing so) have a distinct advantage. Such ‘social’ blocs naturally exist elsewhere in the region. Aleks Szczerbiak wrote of the an economically ‘social Poland’ (represented by Law and Justice and smaller radical parties) defeating ‘liberal Poland’ in 2005 and, as noted below, think they may have achieved a kind victory-in-defeat in 2007.

As an interesting footnote the survey on parties also confirms that the Czech Greens are seen as party of the centre or right. A merely 19% thought that they were concerned with the socially underprivileged, the second lowest rating after ODS (12%).

>Education portfolio too hot to handle for Czech Greens

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Who’d be an Education Minister in East Central Europe these days? Once a something of a political backwater, you now face an unenviable set of competing demands: of implementling EU-endorsed plans for transformation of communist-era education systems to shape up for the knowledge economy, putting a culture of critical, independent learning and foreign language learning in place of entrenched ex-cathedra methods, rote-learning and a bias towards technical specialisms; an ageing, over-feminized and under-qualified teaching workforce at primary and secondary level, chronically underpaid but with relatively good levels of union organization; unreformed teaching training institutions; and a need to expand and reform higher education, similar lines taking advantage of sizeable EU structural funds while your country is still sufficiently far behind the EU average to qualify for them.

The most spectacular recent casualty of this conundrum was (now ex-)Czech Education Minister Dana Kuchtová, one of three Green cabinet members, in the current centre-right led minority administration. Projects for the reform of higher education, which should have qualified for tens of billions of crowns of EU funds, were not ready and not up to scratch, leaving rectors of universities furious. Although such situations are not untypical problem across the new CEE member states, given inexperience and not sufficiently professionalized or qualified civil service concerned Ms Kuchtová seems to have had the misfortune to have inherited problems at the Czech Education Ministry just as they came to a head and to have mismanaged the crisis both administratively and politically, making promises she couldn’t keep and antagonising MPs in the Education Committee of the Czech Chamber of Deputies.

Lower down the education system in the Czech Republic, a new reformed curriculum stressing theme and competences (‘learning how to learn’), rather than the accumulation of knowledge in traditional subject areas is being rolled out. There are sceptical reports in the press as to whether current teaching staff have the ability and inclination to teach it as intended with suggestions that it is essentially a Potemkin repackaging of the old syllabus. Conservative resistance is also coming directly by the traditional Czech intelligentsia and scientific establishment, who see traditional teaching methods based on a canon of knowledge as central to Czech national identity (and one might add, the rather elitist culture of the Czech intelligentsia itself). In a telling phrase a letter signed by a host of leading academics including the sociologist, ex-dissident and feminist scholar, Jiřina Šiklová, warns in a characteristic phrase that the new reforms threaten to lead to the ‘degradation of the Czech population into an unthinking mass (dav) of consumers’ (Cynics might say that was possibly largely the situation already, which was why reform is needed – why do Czech intellectuals harp on with fantasies of imminent national decay rooted in lack of culture/morality/education so persistently?)

Meanwhile, Czech unions representing secondary school teachers are preparing once again to stage strikes over low pay, joining their colleagues in Bulgaria, who are already locked in acrimonious series of strikes. Here, government ministers see salary increases as potentially budget busting and linked to reductions in the size of the teaching force justified by Bulgaria’s rapidly ageing population and consequently declining school population, performance-related pay and financial decentralization and ring-fencing of education budgets. Figures reported in the Slovak press recently also highlight that the country’s teachers are amongst the worst paid professionals in the country.

The political demise of Dana Kuchtová, under pressure from both the Civic Democrats and junior partner in the coalition, the Christian Democrats, has also triggered a minor crisis in the Green party, offering a focus for party members discontented with leader Martin Bursík for excessive accommodation of right-wing parties and in effect hanging, Kuchtová, a former activist with the South Bohemian Mothers anti-nuclear group, out to dry. The EU funds fiasco, they argue was no worse at the Education Ministry than at many other Czech ministries struggling to download European funds on time, but served as a pretext for the two right-wing parties in the coalition to target and pressurize the small and inexperienced Greens. Kuchtová’s resignation was partly prompted by a desire to head off factional conflict in the party.

Discontent is also mounting among some Greens about the role of the Green-nominated Foreign Minister, aristocratic and ex-Havel confidante Karel Schwarzenberg. Although his appointment was seem as a major political coup for the Greens at the time the government was formed, some Greens have, it seems, now worked out that Schwarzenberg is in no way carrying out a Green foreign policy but rather one informed by his own aristocratic sense of public service and Schwarzenberg family tradition. Clearly, the nation’s schoolchildren are not the only ones in the Czech Republic who need to learn faster.

Karolína Vitarová-Vránková, ‘Ekonomika a štěstí pro ZS’, Respekt, 1-7 October, pp. 60-1

>Czech power politics: short circuiting reform?

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The first issue of theCzech news magazine Respekt in new compact colour format includes several interest articles including a feature on state-owned electricity giant ČEZ. Despite the good intentions of various governments since 1989 – including the last Social Democrat-led government – the conglomerate has never been fully privatized (state holds 67% stake) and the energy supply industry never adequately liberalized (through the breaking up of large players like ČEZ to create a more competitive market). The reason for this was the apparent imminent state of collapse of ČEZ during the 1990s and the risk that the Czech Republic might be dependent on expensive foreign ( = German) electricity. This was also one of the reasons for the completion of the controversial Temelín nuclear power plant. ČEZ is now, however, super profitable, having with political backing consolidated its dominant position by buying small independent distribution companies and seen of foreign entrants to the Czech energy market. ČEZ, claims Respekt, is not only too rich and too political well connected, it seems to have little incentive to modernize and promote more efficient energy generation or energy use, instead using profits to buy up and withdraw its own shares and make acquisitions abroad. The magazine speculates that politicians – if not directly influenced by ČEZ freebies and donations – may be conserving this milch cow as an asset to sell off to manage public spending programmes. It hopes that the mega-bucks containing in the company will be used for something useful like pension reform.

>Fringe benefit?

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I’ve always had a minor fascination with minor parties, whether in a West European or a CEE context – indeed, the next academic conference I’m planning to go to the International Conference on Minor Parties, Independent Politicians, Voter Associations and Political Associations in Politics at the University of Birmingham at the end of November, where I’ll be doing a paper on pensioner parties in Eastern Europe (and beyond). So I was interested to stumble across the newly set up Berrocsir’s blog, which promises a ‘syncretic view of fringe politics’ in the UK. There are only half a dozen postings so far – including, rather oddly, a review of Cider With Rosy – but the writer does seem well informed about both the far right and the internal politics of the Green Part of England and Wales (including links to the two rival Green Party factions campaigning for and against proposed organizational reforms in the party).
Indeed, perhaps s/he is a little too well informed for comfort as “For a world of ten thousand flags!” tag used to sign off is a variant of the “Europe of a Hundred Flags” slogan of the post-fascist French Nouvelle Droite/aka the European New Right, which has been ably and interestingly academically explored by Prof Roger Griffin of Oxford Brookes University in papers such as the one here. The use of the word ‘syncretic’ – a favourite buzzword of the ENR used to describe their fusion of liberal radicalisms of right and left – is also something of a giveaway.
Even if this particular blogger should turn out to be a bit beyond the fringem, a dedicated blog on fringe and minor parties would be an excellent idea given the general dearth of easily accessible information on them…

>Czech right needs Cameron style greening says commentator

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The following rather interesting commentary on the future of the Czech civic right appeared in Lidové noviny on 15 May under the headline “The Civic Democrats and green class consciousness”. (The Czech original can be found here.) Bored stiff, I (freely) translated when my train broke down for 40 mins outside Redhill the other week when reading about theories of party formation just got too much. Although there is an element of cod political sociology in it, as CVVM’s latest polling on Czech environmental attitudes confirms, its basic supposition about the Czech’s left is less than post-material and the only greenest part of the Czech public is to be found in its nascent middle class -is correct, although as in Britain there’s widespead support for environmental measures that cost little or nothing or are done by someone else (‘the government’ say left-leaning and poorer Czech respondents). The article is also an interesting counterpoint to other commentaries suggest the Civic Democrats future lies in moving towards the rural, socially conservative electorate by embracing the Christian Democrats as well as a rather revealing about the Czech right.
“The British Conservative Party has been the Czech Civic Democrats’ one great European ally. But under its new leader David Cameron the party has started to go green. Anyone opening the website of the recent winner of Britain’s local elections might at first have the impression that it was an English version of the Czech Greens’ site. David Cameron is seen walking showily among people planting trees and his political vocabulary is peppered with phrases like ‘quality of life’, ‘the fight against global poverty’ and ‘getting more women into politics’. His slogan ‘Vote blue, go green’ says it all.
Cameron’s Conservative Party stresses the same issues as the Green Party or ex-President Havel in the Czech Republic. The Tory leader says that the European Union should focus on the economic challenge of globalization, the ecological challenge of climate change and on the moral and security challenges of global poverty. The Conservative Cameron would also like to lower CO2 emissions with higher taxes on air travel, a tax which would impact most on frequent flyers. In an interview with the newsmagazine Týden in early 2007 Václav Klaus declared that the ‘greening of the right’ – which is not just observable in Great Britain – was ‘unbelievably unfortunate’. According to the Czech President, who is now profiling himself as a harsh critic of the theory of global warning, the Greens stand ‘squarely on the other side of the ideological barricades’.
How can we explain the greening of the British Tories? Is it an unacceptable ideological deviation, surrender to the enemy? Or simply populist opportunism, which will lead to short terms success, but come back to haunt a conservative party in the long term? This is party true, but the main explanation lies elsewhere. The ‘greening of the right’ is the logical outcome of the development of Western societies, which sees ever great emphasis on ‘post-material’ values.

And this stress is understandably most widespread among the middle class, people with higher education and higher incomes, who are among the traditional vote of the right. In the last German parliamentary elections it emerged that the German Greens had an electorate with essentially the same social composition as the ‘bourgeois’ FDP. Moreover, the German Greens’ voters had a higher average income than those of other parties.
I am not a Marxist, but Marx is often an unusual source of inspiration. As in this case. ‘Green ideology’ is simply the current ‘class consciousnesses of the Western bourgeoisie, or definitively the greater part of it. Of course, it is an ideology we can – indeed should – intellectually polemicize with. Nevertheless, a practically minded election planner must legitimately ask themselves what social classes a right-wing party should seek the support of when its erstwhile clientele is so unattracted by free markets and flat taxation or is mainly interested in reducing greenhouse gases, wind- and solar power, healthy lifestyles and, being wealthy, is willing to pay a premium for them in green taxes. If the right loses the bourgeoisie, it will die out and the current bourgeoisie is and will probably for a long time to come be at the very least. Indeed, it will probably get greener and greener. And this is true in the Czech Republic, where the post-materialist trend is as yet not as strong as in Western Europe.
The biggest election ‘loss’ was suffered by the Civic Democrats in 2002 when [then Social Democrat leader] Vladimír Špidla managed to appeal to appeal to sections of the Czech middle class. Under Stanislav Gross and Jiří Paroubek the Social Democrats lost this catch and but for the success of the Czech Greens a Communist-Social Democrat coalition – either overt or in the form of Communist support for a minority government – would be governing the Czech Republic – the nightmare warned against in the Civic Democrat election campaign.
In my view one clear imperative for the Civic Democrats flows from this: if they want to be successful they must win over the Czech middle class, either directly or through coalitions with its representatives (or representatives of the most important and influential sections of the Czech middle class). And Czech Green Party is precisely such a representative. The Greens are in a Czech context on the right as regards their negative attitude to the communist past and especially in the social composition of their electorate, but some aspects of its programme and views put them on the left, the balance of these two trends being a position in the political centre.
The greening of the European right is a challenge for the Czech right comparable to Cameron’s ‘challenge of climate change’, one with which it will have to come to terms in a much more fundamentally and sophisticated way than it has so far. Opportunistic rebranding or parroting some of the arrant nonsense uttered by Czech and international “environmentalists” would be as unfortunate as complete dismissal of environmental issues or the problems of Africa accompanied the oft-repeated mantra that the market is panacea for us.

Josef Mlejnek jr. (
josefmlejnek@seznam.cz)”

>Václav Klaus’s CEP-tic tank

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The latest newsletter of President Klaus’s pet thinktank Centre for Economics and Politics (CEP) is devoted to a series of articles arguing that global warming is ‘dubious’ and the Stern report on climate change unreliable – most authored CEP’s usual less-than-heavyweight staffers. At a time when even many US Republicans and Camerronian British Toriesare adjusting to the now extremely obvious reality of human-induced global warming, this stuff frankly is in the same intellectual bracket as Holocaust denial or 9/11 conspiracy theories – and rather odd considering that the party Klaus founded, the Civic Democrats, are in coalition with the Czech Republic’s pro-market Greens. You would think they would be spreading the word on emissions trading or a market in personal carbon quotas, perhaps organised along the lines of the voucher privatization programme but without the corruption. Still Klaus and his buddies have ploughed a rather lonely furrow exploring the paranoid highways and byways of Czech national liberalism since at least 2002 without really responding to wider debates on the Anglo-American right, so I can’t say I’m surprised they are still such in this groove. From flat taxers to flat earthers, it seems.

>Bad experiences with Good Energy

>I rue the day that I ever signed up with the eco-electricity company Good Energy, whose major selling point – backed ads in The Guardian and The Independent and various ethical shopper recommendations – is, far so, the only UK electricity provider to offer 100% renewable electricity. They are pretty expensive – having hiked prices about a year ago to match the rising cost of carbon generated electricity which (apparently) sets the market rate – but the real fly in the ointment, as discovered, is their atrocious customer service. The unspoken assumption seems to be that environmentally minded consumers willing to pay a small premium will put with anything to combat global warming.

It all started in September when I realised that we had been misreading our old fashioned four dial electricity meter. I tried to contact the Good Energy and quickly discovered that their customer enquiry line is never answered in person only by a recorded message asking callers to leave details and a promise to call back. Calls were returned but only after a delay of two or three days (sometimes longer) and invariably when I was out. As the ‘customer operatives’ left no direct number I was back at square one.

I finally emailed Good Energy at their enquiries email address, got no reply for a week, emailed again, did receive a reply and, hallelujah, a customer service agent telephoned me at a time when I was actually at home. They agreed to take a ‘verified reading’ on 20 explaining helpfully earlier readings would have been automatically adjusted at a computer centre to fit earlier customer reading and so any discrepancy would not automatically come to light.

A meter reader duly came (although not on the day agreed) and explained that, yes, our meter had indeed been misread and “a real stinker”. The correct reading was about 2000kw/h lower – about three month’s consumption – we had thought. Naively, I thought Good Energy would quickly sort things out re-bill. How green I was and not just in the ecological sense. I heard bugger from all from Good Energy, so five weeks later. I finally emailed them and received a reply from a Katie Smith say that she had located the reading of 16 October, would get it be validated and a new bill issued. Two days later I duly got a bill, which made no reference to the verified meter reading just an estimated reading based on the earlier incorrect figure.

So I then emailed Good Energy again on 4 December and four days later received an email response (sent 8 December 2006 by a Vicky Breydin) saying – without any additional explanation – that she had ‘been asked’ to arrange another verified reading and asking that I telephone to arrange this! Knowing their dud customer unfriendly enquiries line, I emailed back asking them to contact me, if possible by email and also asked just why-oh- why for Climate Change’s sake they needed to another ‘verified reading’. Was the first one wrong? Taking a leaf from George H.W. Bush, I also decided to draw a line in the sand so gave them two weeks to sort the mess out. Predictably, three weeks later …. no response whatsoever.

I guess the next stage to write a formal letter of complaint to the company and probably also complain regulator-cum-consumer watchdog EnergyWatch. I’ll certainly have to move to some green but halfway efficient alternative, but I’m starting to wonder if I will ever escape the clutches of Bad Energy. It’s hard not to think they are deliberately prevaricating to hang on to my money.

>Liberal democracy: the heat is on

>A thought provoking article by Stephen King (the HSBC economist and columnist, not the horror writer) in a The Independent (6 November) about green taxation and the prospects of averting catastrophic climate change. Taking the liberal/economic view of climate changes as an externality that has be factored into individual economic decisions, he points out that taxation does work, but very slowly and not on the scale required for climate change to be addressed in time (as set out in the Stern Report). Smoking has been reduced by half over about 40 years as taxes have crept up, but there the individual has a direct personal interest in not becoming ill – whereas climate change really only bites 2-3 generations on – and the reduction achieved is still less than the 80% cut in global carbon emissions required.


The real issues, as the article, bleakly highlights, is that climate changes is a giant collective action problem – the tragedy of the commons writ very large indeed – which requires states and individual voters/consumers to subordinate their immediate interests to those of future generations and the global population as a whole. The chances of this happening, King convincing suggests, seem minimal, so we are likely to be heading for a bad global scenario in 50-100 years time. As in many collective action problems, some actors (US, China, India) count a whole lot more than others because they (will) emit more. US votes in elections – mainly in a few swing states and districts – have disproportionate weight in deciding about us all.

And the political consequences? Diminishing economic growth and social disruption implies conflict, radicalisation and perhaps resort to authoritarian solutions. Although Green politics in Europe is libertarian, anti-statist and generally politically right on, the political logic of coping with climate change (or its consequences) seems to imply a strengthening of political authority, growing inequality (green taxes on consumption are, after all, flat – hence regressive; development in poorer countries may add to climate change etc) and – as George Monbiot has spotted – the Wellsian prospect of a kind of world government, more likely perhaps to take the form of world governance, as bigger states imposing their will on smaller, taking action on climate change but at the price of entrenching their dominance and privilege.

The Pentagon, of course, got there before me in a widely publicized 2003 report focused on US security needs, but I guess the message is that eco-liberals might need to be as worried about the growth of state power and the future political environment as they do about the physical environment. On the other hand, Liberals from Mill to Hayek have cultivated a professional pessimism about global trends driving the rise of new forms of authoritarian and usually been only half right… Indeed, perhaps the late 21st century will just be the same as the late 19th or the late 20th – a few wealthy fortress like islands of political liberalism in an otherwise poor and illiberal world.

>Far Pavilion? Helping the Greens win in Brighton (almost)

> The 22% won by the Green Party in the Brighton Pavilion constituency in the 2005 general election was – leaving aside independents, Scots and Welsh Nats and the case of George Galloway– the highest vote for a minor party for many years and seems an interesting example of a once very minor party start breaking through despite the vast obstacles of First-Past-the-Post.

Having discovered 80Soft’s excellent UK election simulation game of the 2005 election, Prime Minister Forever (good value at £8.00) I decided to give the World Cup a miss, help out and see if I could win it for them. PMF is a game that – having worked out the rules – needs to be played for long periods away the computer with pencil and pad, as putting together a coherent strategy, tweaking party programme – inspired by the Czechs I tend make them more realistic and less radical – balancing out the cash, building up activities and timing momentum to peak around election day requires a lot of forethought.

For the UK Greens, in the game as in life one thing is a no brainer. Although a getting certain national vote is important – the game sets a target of 3% of the national poll, which very difficult with only 200 candidates – Brighton Pavilion is the obvious and overwhelming target. It has the highest Green vote and at under 40% Labour and Tory votes are relatively low and there lowish Lib Dem vote, that could be squeezed. All this suggests the Greens could come through the middle in a three way marginal. Other high-ish Green votes of around 10%are unviable as appear in safe Tory or Labour seats (Lewisham)

Even with such narrow priorities, the Greens have problems. Lack of cash is a real problem. This dictates very limited activity (fund raising, barn storming and issue preparation) early on with more intense campaigning only in the final 2-3 weeks. My best efforts to get perennial Brighton Pavilion candidate Keith Taylor to Westminster involved a campaign spent mainly needling the Lib Dems – managing to get an endorsement from Liberty snatched from the Lib Dens through intensive lobbying and luckily finding some dirt onCharlie Kennedy and leaking it to the media the week before polling. I then tried to get the Labour vote down at the last minute, having saved enough in the campaign kitty for 2-3 days’s attack advertising across the South East right at the end of the campaign before the New Labour spin machine could get into action. There is also such a thing as too much early targeting as both Labour and Tories tend to target Brighton Pavilion with bigger and better resources.

The result? Sitting MP’s Dave Lepper’s vote took a dive, but the Green vote only climbed to 26% and the seat went Tory bya wafer thin majority with both major parties effectively tied on 28%. Disappointingly, the Lib Dem vote, which had reduced to 6% bounced right up to 12%. Dodgy canvass returns perhaps?

Interestingly, the wider results of the elections I’ve fought highlight the difficulty of Tories winning, having ranged from hung parliaments with large Liberal gains (winning up to 72 seats) to Labour winning workable majorities with the party on around 350 seats, as in the real thing. The Tories do tend to stand still, with 250 MPs being their maximum – what David Cameron wouldn’t give for that.

The underlying lesson seems to be the sheet difficulty of the Greens winning the required 35-40% needed to win in First-Past-the-Post contests above local level, despite their very skilled targeting of parliamentary seats through local elections – running city-wide slates to present themselves as fourth party – and good use of pavement politics. I suppose it the Liberals could do, so can the Greens but that does imply a timescale of about 40 years and the Liberals always retained a small parliamentary presence.

Thinking of the Greens and (small ‘l’) liberals I can’t help wondering that both are in fact always destined to be minority forces. Both have a difficult to sell message and tend to have a social support base confined to small educated sub-groups. Lord Acton’s comment that the sincere friends of freedom are rare and that its ‘triumphs have been due to minorities, that have prevailed by associating themselves with auxiliaries whose objects often differed from their own’ comes to mind.

Very much the same seems true of sincere friends of the planet. Who one wonders are the ‘auxiliaries’ that the Greens can team up with? In the Czech Republic, centrist liberals although the Greens in turn are the auxiliaries of pro-market neo-liberals of ODS, about the bltiz the Czech Republic with environmentally VAT rises. In Britain, traditionally the socialist left seems a pole of attraction for many Greens – at least to judge from a quick google of discussions about the Greens and Brighton Pavilion.

Lord A. does, of course, go on to counsel that ‘such association, always dangerous have sometimes been disastrous’, but I that’s politics, I guess