In the latest issue:

Real Men Go to Tehran

Adam Shatz

What Trump doesn’t know about Iran

Patrick Cockburn

Kaiser Karl V

Thomas Penn

The Hostile Environment

Catherine Hall

Social Mobilities

Adam Swift

Short Cuts: So much for England

Tariq Ali

What the jihadis left behind

Nelly Lahoud

Ray Strachey

Francesca Wade

C.J. Sansom

Malcolm Gaskill

At the British Museum: ‘Troy: Myth and Reality’

James Davidson

Poem: ‘The Lion Tree’

Jamie McKendrick


Jenny Turner

Boys in Motion

Nicholas Penny

‘Trick Mirror’

Lauren Oyler

Diary: What really happened in Yancheng?

Long Ling

Anti-Party PartyBen Jackson

Terms and Conditions

These terms and conditions of use refer to the London Review of Books and the London Review Bookshop website ( — hereafter ‘LRB Website’). These terms and conditions apply to all users of the LRB Website ("you"), including individual subscribers to the print edition of the LRB who wish to take advantage of our free 'subscriber only' access to archived material ("individual users") and users who are authorised to access the LRB Website by subscribing institutions ("institutional users").

Each time you use the LRB Website you signify your acceptance of these terms and conditions. If you do not agree, or are not comfortable with any part of this document, your only remedy is not to use the LRB Website.

  1. By registering for access to the LRB Website and/or entering the LRB Website by whatever route of access, you agree to be bound by the terms and conditions currently prevailing.
  2. The London Review of Books ("LRB") reserves the right to change these terms and conditions at any time and you should check for any alterations regularly. Continued usage of the LRB Website subsequent to a change in the terms and conditions constitutes acceptance of the current terms and conditions.
  3. The terms and conditions of any subscription agreements which educational and other institutions have entered into with the LRB apply in addition to these terms and conditions.
  4. You undertake to indemnify the LRB fully for all losses damages and costs incurred as a result of your breaching these terms and conditions.
  5. The information you supply on registration to the LRB Website shall be accurate and complete. You will notify the LRB promptly of any changes of relevant details by emailing the registrar. You will not assist a non-registered person to gain access to the LRB Website by supplying them with your password. In the event that the LRB considers that you have breached the requirements governing registration, that you are in breach of these terms and conditions or that your or your institution's subscription to the LRB lapses, your registration to the LRB Website will be terminated.
  6. Each individual subscriber to the LRB (whether a person or organisation) is entitled to the registration of one person to use the 'subscriber only' content on the web site. This user is an 'individual user'.
  7. The London Review of Books operates a ‘no questions asked’ cancellation policy in accordance with UK legislation. Please contact us to cancel your subscription and receive a full refund for the cost of all unposted issues.
  8. Use of the 'subscriber only' content on the LRB Website is strictly for the personal use of each individual user who may read the content on the screen, download, store or print single copies for their own personal private non-commercial use only, and is not to be made available to or used by any other person for any purpose.
  9. Each institution which subscribes to the LRB is entitled to grant access to persons to register on and use the 'subscriber only' content on the web site under the terms and conditions of its subscription agreement with the LRB. These users are 'institutional users'.
  10. Each institutional user of the LRB may access and search the LRB database and view its entire contents, and may also reproduce insubstantial extracts from individual articles or other works in the database to which their institution's subscription provides access, including in academic assignments and theses, online and/or in print. All quotations must be credited to the author and the LRB. Institutional users are not permitted to reproduce any entire article or other work, or to make any commercial use of any LRB material (including sale, licensing or publication) without the LRB's prior written permission. Institutions may notify institutional users of any additional or different conditions of use which they have agreed with the LRB.
  11. Users may use any one computer to access the LRB web site 'subscriber only' content at any time, so long as that connection does not allow any other computer, networked or otherwise connected, to access 'subscriber only' content.
  12. The LRB Website and its contents are protected by copyright and other intellectual property rights. You acknowledge that all intellectual property rights including copyright in the LRB Website and its contents belong to or have been licensed to the LRB or are otherwise used by the LRB as permitted by applicable law.
  13. All intellectual property rights in articles, reviews and essays originally published in the print edition of the LRB and subsequently included on the LRB Website belong to or have been licensed to the LRB. This material is made available to you for use as set out in paragraph 8 (if you are an individual user) or paragraph 10 (if you are an institutional user) only. Save for such permitted use, you may not download, store, disseminate, republish, post, reproduce, translate or adapt such material in whole or in part in any form without the prior written permission of the LRB. To obtain such permission and the terms and conditions applying, contact the Rights and Permissions department.
  14. All intellectual property rights in images on the LRB Website are owned by the LRB except where another copyright holder is specifically attributed or credited. Save for such material taken for permitted use set out above, you may not download, store, disseminate, republish, post, reproduce, translate or adapt LRB’s images in whole or in part in any form without the prior written permission of the LRB. To obtain such permission and the terms and conditions applying, contact the Rights and Permissions department. Where another copyright holder is specifically attributed or credited you may not download, store, disseminate, republish, reproduce or translate such images in whole or in part in any form without the prior written permission of the copyright holder. The LRB will not undertake to supply contact details of any attributed or credited copyright holder.
  15. The LRB Website is provided on an 'as is' basis and the LRB gives no warranty that the LRB Website will be accessible by any particular browser, operating system or device.
  16. The LRB makes no express or implied representation and gives no warranty of any kind in relation to any content available on the LRB Website including as to the accuracy or reliability of any information either in its articles, essays and reviews or in the letters printed in its letter page or material supplied by third parties. The LRB excludes to the fullest extent permitted by law all liability of any kind (including liability for any losses, damages or costs) arising from the publication of any materials on the LRB Website or incurred as a consequence of using or relying on such materials.
  17. The LRB excludes to the fullest extent permitted by law all liability of any kind (including liability for any losses, damages or costs) for any legal or other consequences (including infringement of third party rights) of any links made to the LRB Website.
  18. The LRB is not responsible for the content of any material you encounter after leaving the LRB Website site via a link in it or otherwise. The LRB gives no warranty as to the accuracy or reliability of any such material and to the fullest extent permitted by law excludes all liability that may arise in respect of or as a consequence of using or relying on such material.
  19. This site may be used only for lawful purposes and in a manner which does not infringe the rights of, or restrict the use and enjoyment of the site by, any third party. In the event of a chat room, message board, forum and/or news group being set up on the LRB Website, the LRB will not undertake to monitor any material supplied and will give no warranty as to its accuracy, reliability, originality or decency. By posting any material you agree that you are solely responsible for ensuring that it is accurate and not obscene, defamatory, plagiarised or in breach of copyright, confidentiality or any other right of any person, and you undertake to indemnify the LRB against all claims, losses, damages and costs incurred in consequence of your posting of such material. The LRB will reserve the right to remove any such material posted at any time and without notice or explanation. The LRB will reserve the right to disclose the provenance of such material, republish it in any form it deems fit or edit or censor it. The LRB will reserve the right to terminate the registration of any person it considers to abuse access to any chat room, message board, forum or news group provided by the LRB.
  20. Any e-mail services supplied via the LRB Website are subject to these terms and conditions.
  21. You will not knowingly transmit any virus, malware, trojan or other harmful matter to the LRB Website. The LRB gives no warranty that the LRB Website is free from contaminating matter, viruses or other malicious software and to the fullest extent permitted by law disclaims all liability of any kind including liability for any damages, losses or costs resulting from damage to your computer or other property arising from access to the LRB Website, use of it or downloading material from it.
  22. The LRB does not warrant that the use of the LRB Website will be uninterrupted, and disclaims all liability to the fullest extent permitted by law for any damages, losses or costs incurred as a result of access to the LRB Website being interrupted, modified or discontinued.
  23. The LRB Website contains advertisements and promotional links to websites and other resources operated by third parties. While we would never knowingly link to a site which we believed to be trading in bad faith, the LRB makes no express or implied representations or warranties of any kind in respect of any third party websites or resources or their contents, and we take no responsibility for the content, privacy practices, goods or services offered by these websites and resources. The LRB excludes to the fullest extent permitted by law all liability for any damages or losses arising from access to such websites and resources. Any transaction effected with such a third party contacted via the LRB Website are subject to the terms and conditions imposed by the third party involved and the LRB accepts no responsibility or liability resulting from such transactions.
  24. The LRB disclaims liability to the fullest extent permitted by law for any damages, losses or costs incurred for unauthorised access or alterations of transmissions or data by third parties as consequence of visit to the LRB Website.
  25. While 'subscriber only' content on the LRB Website is currently provided free to subscribers to the print edition of the LRB, the LRB reserves the right to impose a charge for access to some or all areas of the LRB Website without notice.
  26. These terms and conditions are governed by and will be interpreted in accordance with English law and any disputes relating to these terms and conditions will be subject to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales.
  27. The various provisions of these terms and conditions are severable and if any provision is held to be invalid or unenforceable by any court of competent jurisdiction then such invalidity or unenforceability shall not affect the remaining provisions.
  28. If these terms and conditions are not accepted in full, use of the LRB Website must be terminated immediately.
Honourable Friends? Parliament and the Fight for Change 
by Caroline Lucas.
Portobello, 281 pp., £14.99, March 2015, 978 1 84627 593 7
Show More
Show More

Caroline Lucas​ became the Green Party’s first MP when she won Brighton Pavilion in 2010. Two years later she resigned as leader of the party in England and Wales and was replaced by Natalie Bennett. In 2011, the Greens took minority control of Brighton and Hove City Council, and in 2013 Jenny Jones, who has represented the Greens in the London Assembly since 2000, became a peer in the House of Lords. At the beginning of 2014, the party had 15,000 members; now the figure is closer to 60,000 (Ukip and the Lib Dems have about 45,000 each); most of the ‘Green surge’ took place in January, when there was a row about the leaders’ debates and whether Bennett should be included: in one week, the party gained 13,274 members. But there have been some embarrassing gaffes, the worst of them Bennett’s ‘brain fade’ when she was asked on LBC Radio to explain how the Greens planned to fund their housing policy. The dream for the party is to take three or four seats in the election, but a complete wipe-out isn’t impossible.

Here’s the difficulty for the Greens. Most people who are inclined to vote for them would also prefer a Labour government to a Conservative one. In a first past the post ballot, a vote for the Greens is therefore more likely to remove support from Labour than the Tories, and so makes a Tory victory more likely. Lucas’s book Honourable Friends?, part memoir and part manifesto, puts a lot of emphasis on the need for voting reform, but for the purposes of this election the Greens have had to resort to the standard arguments of small parties in first past the post systems. First, they make light of the differences between the main parties: ‘We have got a Labour Party that is barely distinguishable from the Tory-Lib Dem coalition,’ Bennett said in 2012; Labour and the Conservatives are just ‘two versions of market fundamentalism’ is the way George Monbiot put it. Second, the Greens argue that if large numbers of people vote for them, but the party is rewarded with little or no representation in Parliament, the government will come under increasing pressure to accept electoral reforms that would open the system up to a wider array of parties. Lucas believes that if Labour loses at this election because of a strong Green showing, it will be forced to accept electoral reform. But the Lib Dems have been saying things like this for decades. The fact is that few people are motivated by long-term strategic considerations when they cast their vote. They know that whatever they do, there will be a Tory or Labour-led government – and that saps the will to vote Green.

The origins of the Green Party in the UK go back to 1972, when Tony Whittaker, a former Conservative councillor, read an interview in Playboy with Paul Ehrlich. Ehrlich had made a career of warning against the consequences of population growth. (‘The battle to feed all of humanity is over,’ he wrote in 1968 in The Population Bomb. ‘In the 1970s and 1980s hundreds of millions of people will starve to death in spite of any crash programmes embarked upon now.’) Whittaker established a discussion group called the Club of Thirteen composed mostly of former Tories worried about population growth, the disruption of ecological processes and ‘the permissiveness of Soho’. The group established PEOPLE party, which in 1975 became the Ecology Party and then, in 1985, the UK Green Party (now replaced by the three closely associated but independent parties of England and Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland).

It was only in the run-up to the 1997 election that the party made explicit moves to occupy a position on the left. ‘The Green Party fits automatically into the space left by the new-look Labour Party,’ Peg Alexander, then the party speaker, said in 1995: ‘a space which needs our commitment to economic and social equality and justice.’ In the last 15 years, this attitude has been internalised by the party. In her first conference speech as leader, Bennett argued that the Greens ‘need to strengthen and support our trade unions … as Greens we need to ask the unions “What can we do for you?”’ The current election manifesto begins with a promise to end austerity, and to pay for it by introducing a wealth tax and a tax on the banks. There are further undertakings: to end the privatisation of the NHS; to scrap university tuition fees and bring academies and free schools under local authority control; to introduce rent caps; and to renationalise the railways.

One proposal that made it into the manifesto only as an aspiration was the citizen’s income, a basic income paid to all citizens regardless of financial circumstances, which would replace personal tax allowances and benefits other than disability and housing. The policy had been part of the party’s platform since its earliest days, but research has indicated that unless it were means-tested, many poor households could end up losing more than 10 per cent of their current income. The reason the Greens hadn’t foreseen the difficulty is a consequence of their ideological reorientation. The policy wasn’t originally conceived as a straightforward redistributive measure: it was designed instead to cushion people from the economic decline the Greens both anticipated and hoped for (more about that shortly). If people’s basic needs were taken care of, so the thinking went, they would be less anxious, less inclined to behave aggressively towards others or to exploit the environment: ‘individuals, through their ability to satisfy their basic needs more fully, are … able better to contribute to future sustainability.’

Another idea that has survived since the Greens were formed is that governments shouldn’t be aiming to achieve economic growth. From the Greens’ point of view, Labour and the Conservatives share a ‘super-ideology’ of industrialism which holds that people are best served by economic growth; the two parties merely disagree about the distribution of wealth and power that results. For the Greens, such concerns will soon be overtaken by events – by pollution, resource depletion and climate change, which will make traditional politics seem like a rearranging of the deckchairs on the Titanic. The economy, Lucas writes, ‘is a subsystem of the biosphere, and … since the biosphere isn’t getting any larger, the subsystem has to remain within limits’. Instead of growth, we need to move to a steady-state economy. The mainstream parties believe this is a fantasy. ‘It’s our opponents who are the fantasists,’ the Green manifesto declares, because they believe that ‘continual growth is possible on a finite planet.’

Critics of the Greens argue that they don’t take proper account of technological progress. Optimists believe that human ingenuity will sustain us indefinitely, even if current patterns of consumption continue. New technologies, like wind power or carbon capture and storage, make industries cleaner; if we run out of natural resources, we will locate new ones or develop substitutes. From the Green perspective, technology will only ever be able to defer the crisis for a limited number of years. Advances that make environmental savings in one area tend to increase the pressure in others: if you increase fuel economy in cars, people might drive further to work; nuclear power might reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the short term, but the extra energy supply will result in faster consumption of resources in other parts of the economy. It’s unclear whether this analysis applies to renewable energy as well. Even the Greens’ attitude to recycling is equivocal: it remains a ‘last resort’ in the 2015 manifesto. ‘The fiction of combining present levels of consumption with “limitless recycling” is more characteristic of the technocratic vision than of an ecological one,’ Jonathon Porritt, a long-time chair of the Ecology Party, wrote in 1984: ‘Recycling itself uses resources, expends energy, creates thermal pollution; on the bottom line, it’s just an industrial activity like all the others. Recycling is both useful and necessary – but it is an illusion to imagine that it provides any basic answers.’

Basic answers for the Greens have to do with reducing consumption and arriving at what Lucas calls ‘a post-growth world … based not only on efficiency, but on sufficiency: on having enough’. An end to economic growth would focus our minds on things that matter instead of on consumption and capital accumulation. We can have ‘qualitative development, but not aggregate quantitative growth’. Lucas argues that the way to achieve this is to ‘reverse engineer’ the economy: to work out what we really need in terms of sustainability, well-being, working hours and so on, and then work backwards to design an economy geared to produce those results. The Greens are committed to participatory democracy, but if we are to manage this reverse engineering without the more traditional consequences of a decline in economic growth (job losses and poverty), then we will have to leave a lot to the experts – and that is a technocratic solution, not a democratic one.

Not only is this way of thinking internally inconsistent, it is an awkward fit with the traditional left: Lucas is critical of the unions in so far as their promotion of industry conflicts with the Greens’ drive to reduce pollution and economic growth; the Greens’ appeal to the working class has been an almost complete failure. Green supporters remain disproportionately young, educated, middle-class and female, and it isn’t clear that there is any position on the traditional political spectrum that the party can comfortably occupy.

Lucas begins her book by quoting Petra Kelly, one of the founders of the German Greens: ‘We can no longer rely on the established parties, nor can we go on working solely through extra-parliamentary channels. There is a need for a new force, both in Parliament and outside it.’ This new force would be an ‘anti-party’ party: one, in Lucas’s words, ‘that would seek power but never sacrifice morality; that would enter Parliament but never become part of it; that would always remain, at heart, a party of the people’. Many, even within the party, are sceptical that an ‘anti-party’ party can keep its identity when it gains power. Will they be able to enter a system defined by centralised power without succumbing to the kinds of compromise and hypocrisy they reject in the other parties? Lucas has been a successful MP, but if the Greens do gain seats in this election, she may discover that some things are more easily achieved on one’s own: one of them is maintaining an ‘anti-party’ image.

In 2011, the Greens took minority control of Brighton and Hove City Council. The results have left the party open to questions about its fitness to wield power. It has attracted a lot of unwanted attention over the bin strikes which began in 2013 when the council’s attempt to enforce equal pay legislation resulted in a substantial net loss of income for hundreds of refuse workers. In the summer of 2013, rubbish piled up on the streets, and the dispute has rumbled on ever since. There have also been internal divisions. Labour likes to talk about ‘Caroline’s council’, but Lucas supported the unions during the strikes. And there has been some of the plotting and backchannelling that the Greens denounce in the other parties: in May 2013 one of their councillors, a former Lucas aide called Alex Phillips, contacted the leader of the Labour group on the council, Warren Morgan, to ask if he would support a move to replace the Green leader of the council, Jason Kitcat. Morgan chose to go public instead.

The Green Party has gathered support as the feeling grows that traditional politics in Britain has failed. On environmental issues, the feeling is that politics more generally has failed. The Greens have tried to respond to this mood with a brand of left-wing populism. But many of the voters the party is chasing don’t share its more radical ideas about the economy, while the changes the Greens believe are necessary to save us from our environmental predicament have barely filtered through to the electorate at all. The weak environmentalism that most people subscribe to – a mixture of technological change, renewable energy and recycling – is on the classic Green view only a little better than business as usual. Popular environmental campaigns like the Guardian’s Keep It in the Ground, which calls on the world’s two biggest charitable funds – the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the Wellcome Trust – to divest from fossil fuel companies, represent an attempt to bring about change by circumventing politics. ‘The divestment campaign is not arguing for an end of all fossil fuel use starting tomorrow,’ the Guardian states. ‘Instead it is arguing that the burning of fossil fuels at increasing rates is driving global warming, which is the actual threat to modern civilisation.’ The trouble for the Greens is that they really would like to see the end of modern civilisation – as we know it. But you can only say that if you really are an anti-party party, and if there’s one thing the Greens are trying to be during this election campaign, it’s a party party.

Send Letters To:

The Editor
London Review of Books,
28 Little Russell Street
London, WC1A 2HN

Please include name, address, and a telephone number.

Read anywhere with the London Review of Books app, available now from the App Store for Apple devices, Google Play for Android devices and Amazon for your Kindle Fire.

Sign up to our newsletter

For highlights from the latest issue, our archive and the blog, as well as news, events and exclusive promotions.