With the Tory Party committed to an increase in productivity and the GNP at any price, the Labour Party echoing that commitment and the Liberal Party unsure of its future the environmentalist may be forced to more seriously pursue the "New Politics" which Homes Before Roads represented. An urban coalition? How can this be done? There obviously aren't that many middle-class professionals around who would eschew the influence they might have on one or other of the major parties in favour of a march in the political wilderness. But it might be possible to build an "urban coalition" of those concerned with the quality of urban life (and 90 per cent of Britons live in urban areas) and who feel that none of the parties have or can offer an electoral solution.
For this to be possible and for this to become something more than a "middleclass" conscience movement, the quality of life must be defined in the broadest possible terms. I t must include poverty, homelessness, political powerlessness as well as pollution. Homes Before Roads tentatively began in this direction by attempting to make links with tenant and student groups and HBR's most electorally successful candidature was in Tower Hamlets where they organised no campaign but where they represented the only "protest" opposition in an area of strong traditional Labour support.
Clearly there are problems, not the least of them being the differences in political stance of those groups who are critical of the party and political status quo. But it would not be impossible for some type of agreement to be reached like that attained among the 85 HBR candidates, who agreed on the narrow spectrum of issues relating to the GLDP and agreed to disagree on the rest. The basis of such an agreement would seem to be the relation between environmental priorities and economic priorities, such as growth, with social priorities, such as the distribution of wealth, being closely associated.
A potential base for such a coalition might be young people who are increasingly disaffiliated from conventional political parties and who at least at the local level express this by failing to register or to vote. The Kabouters, a political group in Holland have shown that youth may be electorally effective if its commitment can be obtained.
The main problem with environmentalism in Britain is not its lack of strength but its division of forces. Hundreds of local amenity groups, ecology action groups, and the traditional environmental lobbies each act independently and sometimes at cross-purposes so that it isn't possible to mount a campaign of the type which defeated the American SST. Concorde is built but the GLDP, the third London airport, pollution in the North Sea etc. are areas which demand concerted actions not by local "specific issue" groups but by the united force of all concerned with the quality of life in Britain.
An "urban coalition" would seem to be a way in which some unity might be brought to environmentalist forces. No one as yet speaks for British environmentalists, and the scattered cries of local groups don't obtain much governmental response.
I f catastrophes like the GLDP are to be prevented, all those who are concerned with the quality of urban life, and that includes those involved with the problems at the most general level, must be brought together for the promotion of new policies and priorities. The conventional parties will not respond, the minor groups aren't capable of responding and still, daily things get worse.
CLASSICS IN HUMAN ECO LOGY is a series of new editions of significant books about ecology which merit re-publication at a time when their message is even more vital. VOL. 1
HUMA N ECOLOG Y TH E 2nd edition DISCIPLIN E b y Si r Georg e Stapledo n O F PEAC E This completely new, revised edition of Stapledon's book has been prepared by Robert Waller, and the principles expounded in the work form an essential study for anyone concerned about Man's survival. The ecological revolution advocated in the book can only be achieved if man creates and orders a stable state on the author's ecological model. Stapledon's thesis is that a considerable unbalance exists in our way of life —Man's adaptability is the key to his progress, but it also enables him to create an environment that threatens to engulf him. The author's classical research in agriculture points the way to future action.
2nd edition b y K . E. Barlo w
The original edition of this work drew the reader's attention to the ignorance of political philosophers and social planners of the laws concerning man and his natural environment. A generation later the author's message is still quite clear—Man requires to recognise his situation, and then the possibilities of action may appear. In preparation
11/12 Bury Street London EC3A 5AP