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23 January 2015

Fashion designer Vivienne Westwood to donate £300,000 to the Green party

Legendary fashion designer and political activist, Vivienne Westwood, believes "there's not a hair to put between" Labour and the Tories.

By Ashley Cowburn

This post originally appeared on May2015

Dame Vivienne Westwood, the English fashion designer and political activist, is to donate around £300,000 to the Green party in an effort to put “a bit of oil” on the party’s wheels.

In an interview with the New Statesman, the Derbyshire-born punk designer, who yesterday threw her full support behind the flourishing party, said: “I have agreed to give the Greens a certain amount of money. It’s not very much for what political parties need but it’s going to be a big help to get them moving. A bit of oil on their wheels, put it that way.”

“You give your money where you think it’s going to do some good. What’s money for if it’s not to help make the world a better place?”

Westwood, who recently wrote a pamphlet called End Capitalism, said that one of her main reasons for voting for the Greens was because of their “pro-community” stance.

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“None of the other parties are pro-community. The Labour party used to say it was the people’s party; it’s exactly the same as the Conservative party. There’s not a hair to put between them. The difference is the Green party is a people’s party, they are putting people first and all the other parties put business first.”

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The designer, who is firmly opposed to austerity and fracking, used to vote Labour. A “habit of my parents”, she tells me. “I did vote for Labour until Tony Blair got in and I was very pleased about that. Then when we realised what he was really like I stopped voting for them. I then voted for the only possible party, the Greens.

“I just think he [Ed Miliband] is just a pathetic creature, he’s not anything. Neither is David Cameron. Cameron is a suit with a blue background, that’s all he is. He stands there telling everyone jobs jobs and rubbish rubbish. He just looks the figure of what we imagine from the Conservative party.”

But Westwood has some sympathies for the Liberal Democrats: “I do think they’ve had rather a hard time. I think they probably did quite a lot to mitigate the extreme policies of the Conservative party while part of the coalition.”

The donation is the latest in a long list of causes the “proud activist” has embraced on and off the catwalk: in September 2014, she had her models walk down the catwalk wearing “Yes” badges, endorsing the Scottish independence campaign led by Alex Salmond. And in 2008 Westwood joined forces with Agent Provocateur and the human rights charity, Reprieve, for the ‘Fair Trial My Arse’ campaign, to protest at the treatment of prisoners at the military facility.

Earlier this week, the former Lib Dem peer Lord Oakeshott, who was expelled from the party after his attempted coup against Nick Clegg, donated £10,000 to Green MP Caroline Lucas.

Chris Luffingham, the Green party campaigns director, said: “The Green party wholeheartedly welcomes Vivienne’s support. To receive backing from such a highly respected campaigner, who has been so prominent in the battle against fracking and broader issues of climate change, is a real boom to the party as we look to translate the ‘Green surge’ into votes at the general election in May.

“Vivienne and the Greens are working together towards bringing about a peaceful political revolution at the ballot boxes which will deliver a society that meets the needs of all while working within the environmental limits of our one planet.”