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17 November 2021

Caroline Lucas Q&A: “Even if you’re in a minority of one, the truth is still the truth”

The Green Party MP on Petra Kelly, Gandhi’s wisdom, and the benefits of a green economy.

By New Statesman

Caroline Lucas was born in Malvern, Worcestershire in 1960. She worked as a press officer for Oxfam before joining the Green Party in 1986, and in 2010 she became the party’s first MP.

What’s your earliest memory?

Birdsong.

Who are your heroes?

My sister, Vivienne, was my childhood hero; nine years older than me, always so sophisticated, and immensely patient and kind to her adoring (and probably quite annoying) little sister. My adult hero is the Irish mystic, philosopher, writer and poet John O’Donohue. He sadly died in 2008, before I could ever meet him, but I admired him for his wisdom and eloquence and for helping to make sense of life.

What book last changed your thinking?

How to Meditate by Pema Chödrön makes a compelling case against too much thinking.

What would be your “Mastermind” specialist subject?

The life and works of Emily Dickinson.

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Which political figure do you look up to?

Petra Kelly, the co-founder of the German Green Party. Kelly was one of the first politicians to make the connections between peace, feminism and green politics, and the only person I know who spoke faster than me! When she was elected to the Bundestag in 1983, she arrived in jeans with her arms full of sunflowers. Her death, at the hands of her partner, was shocking. Her legacy, however, lives on for those of us in the Green movement.

In which time and place, other than your own, would you like to live?

I’d be one of the Bloomsbury Group in the first half of the 20th century – but only if you can promise me that I can live at Charleston House in East Sussex.

What TV show could you not live without?

The West Wing is a bit too predictable an answer, so The Graham Norton Show.

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Who would paint your portrait?

Paula Rego please, as I love her portrait of Germaine Greer.

What’s your theme tune?

Beethoven’s “Ode to Joy”.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?

Remember, even if you’re in a minority of one, the truth is still the truth. Originally said by Gandhi, and repeated by my husband, Richard, when I come home dejected by another lost vote. As the sole Green MP, it’s more relevant than I’d like…

What’s currently bugging you?

The gulf between the government’s warm words about tackling the climate emergency and the reality of its dithering and delay. It’s even more frustrating given that the shift to a green economy brings positive benefits in so many ways.

What single thing would make your life better?

Working part-time – bring on job-sharing for MPs!

When were you happiest?

Whenever I get my first glimpse of the sea off Llanddwyn beach in Anglesey, alongside Richard, the kids and our dog. Coming up over the dunes to catch sight of that deepest blue sea is the best feeling.

In another life, what job might you have chosen?

I’d love to be a concert pianist, but having not got much beyond Grade 3, I accept it would be a stretch.

Are we all doomed?

Not yet – every action we take to reduce our emissions matters. But we’re running out of time, and too many world leaders are burying their heads in the sand about the dangerous consequences of their failure to act.

Caroline Lucas is sponsoring the Climate and Ecological Emergency Bill in parliament. Find out more at ceebill.uk

[see also: “We’re not hiding our policies from Tory voters”: Green Party leaders Carla Denyer and Adrian Ramsay on their plan to win]

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This article appears in the 17 Nov 2021 issue of the New Statesman, Democracy's last stand