I realise now that for years I was an innocent, gullible, thoroughly green Green.
I realise now that for years I was an innocent, gullible, thoroughly green Green. I had no idea, back then, there were such entities as watermelons and mangoes. I thought they were all, well, pure Granny Smiths. And I suspect plenty of other people - I certainly know several - made the same category mistake. We are all much wiser now.
I first voted for the Greens in 1987, when they put up their first parliamentary candidate in Cambridge, where I lived. Nearly 600 of us voted for the redoubtable Margaret Wright, and it seemed like a historic turning point. Apart from the ideological side of it - the increasing anxiety one felt about the way the planet we lived on was being trashed - what attracted was that the Greens appeared to be outside the prevailing political system.
For more than 20 years I continued to vote Green because I was weary of, and indeed had never identified with, the Tweedledum-and-Tweedledee politics of the two main parties, which seemed each to represent the values of half human society, of half a whole human being. The Greens seemed to me to represent something holistic and integrative, as against the vested interests, the tribal divisiveness, of the combines.
The blinkers fell away, so far as I was concerned, on election night, May 2010, when the newly elected Green MP for Brighton Pavilion, Caroline Lucas, announced she was willing to go into coalition with Gordon Brown - with one of the most lacklustre prime ministers in British history.
And, when Brown had resigned and been replaced by the Conservative-LibDem coalition, she said she regarded herself as an opposition MP.
I had not previously regarded the Greens as in opposition to this faction or that, but to the whole two-party caboodle.
Subsequently we learnt that Lucas - along with most of the Green councillors leading the city’s administration after 2011 - was a so-called watermelon: green on the outside, but red inside. While others, in the same amusing fructuous jargon, were mangoes: green outside, yellow inside (Jason Kitcat, for instance, was a former LibDem).
Whether any of our modern Greens are green all through, as I foolishly imagined they all were, I cannot say. The Greens’ inner colouring has become increasingly evident in recent years, until now some of them are almost defiantly and contrariously red on the outside.
Many of their avowed policies – abolition of the army and the monarchy, open-door immigration, and so on - overlap with left-field Corbynite Labour ones.
Indeed, since the elections in May, in which Labour nationally, and the Greens locally, were trounced, Lucas has suggested a pact between the two parties, with pragmatic agreements (a tad undemocratic, in my opinion) about not both standing in the same constituency. (Labour has so far rebuffed her advances.)
In this context, some of the remarks in Councillor Phélim Mac Cafferty’s article about refugees in last week’s issue of the Brighton and Hove Independent no longer surprise me. Cheap jibes such as, “we must turn our fire on the Etonians, not the Syrians”, belong to Tweedledum (or maybe Tweedledee), not to the local leader of the party I once supported.
His claims that “Britain bears direct culpability for the refugee crisis”, being “the chief architect of the current Middle Eastern crisis”, and that “most of the refugees are fleeing from countries Britain has invaded”, and so on, are Spartist claptrap. Has he never heard of the Taliban, of al Qaeda, of ISIL, of President Assad (bombing and gassing his own people), of Vladimir Putin (currently re-arming Assad), of the Arab Spring?
I’m afraid nothing I have recently heard from any Green is likely to persuade me I should vote for them again.