Caroline Lucas

Caroline Lucas
Leader of the Green Party of England and Wales
Assumed office
2 September 2016
Serving with Jonathan Bartley
Deputy Amelia Womack
Preceded by Natalie Bennett
In office
5 September 2008  5 September 2012
Deputy Adrian Ramsay
Preceded by Position established
Succeeded by Natalie Bennett
Principal Speaker of the Green Party of England and Wales
In office
30 November 2007  5 September 2008
Preceded by Siân Berry
Succeeded by Position abolished
In office
2003  24 November 2006
Preceded by Margaret Wright
Succeeded by Siân Berry
Member of Parliament
for Brighton Pavilion
Assumed office
6 May 2010
Preceded by David Lepper
Majority 7,967 (14.6%)
Member of the European Parliament
for South East England
In office
14 June 1999  6 May 2010
Preceded by Constituency established
Succeeded by Keith Taylor
Personal details
Born (1960-12-09) 9 December 1960
Malvern, England, UK
Political party Green Party UK (1986–1990)
Green Party of England and Wales (1990–present)
Spouse(s) Richard Savage
Children 2
Alma mater University of Exeter
University of Kansas, Lawrence
Website Official website

Caroline Patricia Lucas (born 9 December 1960) is a British politician, and since 2 September 2016, Co-Leader of the Green Party of England and Wales, a position she shares with Jonathan Bartley. She has been the Member of Parliament (MP) for Brighton Pavilion since the 2010 general election, when she became the UK's first Green Party MP. She was re-elected in the 2015 general election with an increased majority.

Born in Malvern in Worcestershire, Lucas graduated from the University of Exeter and the University of Kansas before receiving a PhD from the University of Exeter in 1989. She joined the Green Party in 1986 and held various party roles, also serving on Oxfordshire County Council from 1993 to 1997. She was elected as a Member of the European Parliament (MEP) for South East England in 1999 and re-elected in 2004 and 2009,[1][2] also serving as the Party's Female Principal Speaker from 2003 to 2006 and from 2007 to 2008.

Lucas was elected the first Leader of the Green Party in 2008 and was elected to represent the constituency of Brighton Pavilion in the 2010 general election. She stood down as party leader in 2012 to devote more time to her parliamentary duties and focus on an ultimately successful campaign to be re-elected as an MP. She returned to a party leadership role in September 2016, when she was elected as Co-Leader as part of a job-sharing arrangement with Jonathan Bartley.

She is known as a campaigner and writer on green economics, localisation, alternatives to globalisation, trade justice, animal welfare and food. In her time as a politician and activist, she has worked with non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and think-tanks, including the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA), the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND) and Oxfam.

Early life and education

Lucas was born in Malvern in Worcestershire, to middle-class, Conservative parents[3] Peter and Valerie Lucas.[4] She is one of three children; her father ran a small central heating company, and sold solar panelling.[5][6]

Lucas was educated at Malvern Girls' College (which became Malvern St James in 2006), a boarding independent school in Great Malvern. She then went to the University of Exeter, where she gained a first-class BA (Hons) in English Literature, graduating in 1983.[3][7] While at university, Lucas went on many trips to Greenham Common Women's Peace Camp and Molesworth peace camp when involved with the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND). Lucas was an activist in CND and was involved in the Snowball Campaign against US military bases in the UK which involved the cutting of fences with the expectation of being arrested.[8]

Lucas won a scholarship at the University of Kansas between 1983 and 1984, then gained a Diploma of Journalism,[5] before studying a PhD in English from the University of Exeter (awarded 1990)[9] with a thesis entitled Writing for Women: a study of woman as reader in Elizabethan romance.[10] After her doctorate, Lucas worked as a press officer for Oxfam from 1989.[6] Later, she worked for the charity in other roles, remaining active in the Green Party, but left Oxfam in 1999.[6]

Life and career

Early political career

After being "utterly inspired" by Jonathon Porritt's book Seeing Green, Lucas joined the Green Party in 1986. She recalled in 2007: "I thought, right! I'm going there now" to the Green's main office on Clapham High Street, near where she lived. "I'm just going to dedicate the rest of my life to this party".[8] Soon afterwards she became the party's National Press Officer (1987–89) and Co-Chair (1989–90).[11] Lucas has a reputation as a party moderniser, in terms of internal slang, a "spiky" rather than a "fluffy". In a 2009 Guardian interview, she told Decca Aitkenhead: "when I was putting people up to go on TV programmes I'd be saying to them, 'What are you planning to wear?', and they'd be slightly offended that I'd even think of asking the question. But I do genuinely think that has changed, a lot. It's a recognition, not that there's some kind of terrible compromise about putting on a tie, but that actually you don't want people to be focusing on what you look like but on what you're saying".[12]

When the Green Party became three separate parties in 1990 for the constituent parts of the United Kingdom, she joined the Green Party of England and Wales. Lucas served as their General Election Speaker from 1991 (for the following year's general election) and a Regional Council Member from 1997.[13]

Lucas's first success in an election came when she gained the Green Party's second council seat in the UK on Oxfordshire County Council, which she held between 1993 and 1997.[14]

Green Party MEP

Lucas was first elected as a Member of the European Parliament for the South East England Region at the 1999 elections, the first year the election was by proportional representation. In that year the Green Party gained 7.4% of the vote (110,571 votes). In November 2001, she was convicted of a breach of the peace at the Faslane nuclear base in Scotland the previous February and fined £150 for her participation in a CND sit-down protest. Conducting her own defence at the trial, she pleaded not guilty. Lucas argued that she had a right under the Human Rights Act to peaceful protest following on from her firm anti-nuclear attitudes.[15][16] Faslane is the base used for Britain's Trident nuclear programme. She was arrested for a protest at the same location in 2007. "It still seems ironic that it is a non-violent demonstration that is judged to be a breach of the peace, rather than Britain's illegal and immoral possession of nuclear weapons", she wrote at the time.[17]

Lucas was re-elected in 2004, gaining 173,351 votes (8% share), and again in the 2009 election when the party's vote under the list system rose to 271,506, or 11.6%.[18] In the European Parliament, she was a member of the Committee for Trade, Industry, Energy and Research; the Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Consumer Policy;[14] the Committee on International Trade; and the Temporary Committee on Climate Change.[10]

Lucas was an early signatory of the International Simultaneous Policy (SIMPOL) which seeks to end the usual deadlock in tackling global issues. Lucas became a signatory in June 2004.[19] In addition, she is or has been Vice-President of the Animal Welfare Intergroup, a member of Intergroups on Peace Issues and Consumer Affairs, a member of the Parliament's Delegation to ACP (African Caribbean, and Pacific) Countries,[14] and a member of the Delegation for Relations with the Palestinian Legislative Council.[10] As part of her committee work, she was the Parliament's Rapporteur (draftsperson) on a Commission Communication on the impact of air transport on the environment, and the Vice-President of the parliament's committee of inquiry into foot-and-mouth disease.[14]

Caroline Lucas speaking about the Green New Deal in Oxford, in 2009

In July 2008, Lucas joined the Green New Deal Group, an alliance of experts in finance, energy and the environment. The group put forward plans to invest in green energy, provide greater regulation of the finance sector, and strengthen ties between environmentalists, industry, agriculture, and trade unions. The proposals were put forth in response to fears over the recession, climate change, and increasing energy prices, and stressed the need for integrative policies towards tackling all three.[20]

She held the party's post of Female Principal Speaker from 2003 to 2006 and from 2007 to 2008.[10]

Green Party Leader (2008–12)

Lucas was elected as the Green Party's first leader on 5 September 2008, gaining 92% of the vote (against one other candidate, Ashley Gunstock) on a turnout of 38%. Previously the party had operated under a collective leadership. The change "was about having a face the country recognises - or hopefully", she told Decca Aitkenhead in 2009, "comes to recognise. It was in recognition of the fact that people don't really relate to abstract ideas, they relate more to the people who embody them."[12] Lucas was elected as the Green Party's first-ever MP (for Brighton Pavilion) at the general election of 2010.

In July 2010, Lucas expressed her support for seven campaigners of the Smash EDO campaign who had caused approximately £180,000 damage to an EDO MBM arms factory and were acquitted of conspiring to cause criminal damage. The jury accepted their defence of lawful excuse – action undertaken to prevent a much worse crime – because the company manufactured and sold certain components used by the Israeli military, notably in its assault on Gaza. Lucas stated that: "I am absolutely delighted the jury has recognised that the actions of the decommissioners were a legitimate response to the atrocities being committed in Gaza. I do not advocate non-violent direct action lightly ... [but] their actions were driven by the responsibility to prevent further suffering in Gaza."[21]

On 14 May 2012, Lucas announced she would be standing down as leader as of September 2012 "in order to broaden opportunities for the range of talent in the party and to raise the profiles of others aspiring to election". She added "I'm proud that during the four years of my term, we've moved Green politics forward to a higher level, with the party by far the most influential it has ever been".[22]

Brighton Pavilion

Brighton Pavilion had the highest vote in the 2005 general election for a Green Party candidate when Keith Taylor, a former Green Party Principal Speaker, gained 22% of the vote. In 2007, Lucas declared her intention to stand for the Green Party's nomination for the prospective parliamentary candidate in the Brighton Pavilion constituency for the next general election. In a letter to party members, she indicated that she would only stand if she won the internal party selection election by more than 10%, to avoid internal division. She described the move as "the most difficult decision of my life", due to "personal and family commitments" but also her "loyalty and commitment to Keith Taylor, who is a person and a politician for whom I have great admiration and respect".[23] On 18 July 2007, it was announced that Lucas had been selected by the Brighton Green Party. Lucas won with 55% of the party ballot against Keith Taylor's 45%.[2]

In May 2010, Lucas was elected as the first Green MP to Westminster with a majority of 1,252. As well as being the first Green MP, Caroline Lucas was also the first woman to be elected as an MP for Brighton. She delivered her maiden speech on 27 May 2010.

Lucas opposed the presentation of bare breasted models on page 3 in The Sun and in 2013 was reprimanded for transgressing the Westminster dress code by wearing a T-shirt with the logo "No More Page Three" to protest against the feature during a Commons debate.[24]

On 19 August 2013, Lucas was arrested at a non-violent protest against Cuadrilla Resources fracking operations in Sussex.[25] She was subsequently charged with obstructing a public highway but was found not guilty on 17 April 2014 at Brighton Magistrates' Court. After the hearing, Lucas said: "This judgement is right but this is not a victory or cause for celebration. We will continue to campaign to end fracking and only celebrate when our world is on the path to a clean energy future".[26] In the 2015 UK general election, Lucas was re-elected with a much increased majority of 7,967 and vote share.[27]

Co-leader with Jonathan Bartley

On 31 May 2016, it was announced that Lucas would run for the position of the Leader of the Green Party in a job share arrangement with the welfare spokesman Jonathan Bartley in the forthcoming 2016 Green Party Leadership election.[28]

It was announced on 2 September that Lucas and Bartley had been elected with 86% of first-preference votes.[29] Lucas said the party would strive to preserve the rights of EU nationals living in Britain, and EU rules on workers’ rights and the environment, among other policies.[29]

Other roles and writings

Lucas is vice-president of the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA)[30] and has been on the National Council of CND since 2004.[31] She is also Vice Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Peak Oil and Gas.[32] A former vice-president of the Stop the War Coalition, she resigned from the post in December 2015.[33] According to a statement from Lucas's office, her "busy parliamentary and constituency schedule means that she doesn’t have time to fully engage with the role of a patron and, in light of some recent StWC positions that she didn’t support, she felt standing down was the responsible thing to do".[34][35]

Lucas has been an Advisory Board Member to the International Forum on Globalisation, the Centre for a Social Europe[10] and the Protect the Local, Globally think-tank.[36] She has been a Trustee of the Radiation Research Trust and Patron of the Joliba Trust (Africa). She is Matron of the Women's Environmental Network. Between 1997 and 1998, she was called upon as a Policy Adviser on Trade and Investment for the UK government's Department for International Development.[10]

Lucas is a prolific writer of reports, articles and books on the subjects of trade justice, localisation, globalisation, animal welfare and food, in which she is critical of free trade, a Single European Currency, trade-led developmental policies, genetically modified (GM) food and a lack of attention to environmental and social issues.[36] Her most substantial work is Green Alternatives to Globalisation: A Manifesto (co-authored with Mike Woodin), which advocates localisation of economies based on minimal trade and greater social and environmental concern, in opposition to neo-liberal, market-led forces of globalisation.[37]

In early 2013, Lucas co-signed a letter which was published in The Guardian newspaper which officially marked her support for the People's Assembly movement.[38] She also gave a speech at the People's Assembly Conference, held at Westminster Central Hall on 22 June 2013. A book by Lucas on her time in parliament, Honourable Friends: Parliament and the Fight for Change, was published in 2015.[39]


Caroline Lucas speaking as the first Leader of the Green Party of England and Wales at its autumn conference in 2008.

In her time as a politician and activist, Lucas has won the 2006 Michael Kay Award "for her outstanding contribution to European animal welfare" from the RSPCA.[40]

Lucas has won the award for Politician of the Year in The Observer Newspaper Ethical Awards three times. The award is voted for by Observer readers, who chose her to win in 2007, 2009 and 2010.[41][42][43] In 2008 she was listed by The Guardian as one of "50 people who could save the planet".[44]

In October 2008 Lucas was winner in the Trade category of The Parliament magazine MEP Awards 2008.[45] The awards are voted for by MEPs and NGOs. In April 2010 Lucas won Best UK Politician in The Independent Green Awards[46] and in November 2010 she was awarded "Newcomer of the Year" in The Spectator Parliamentarian of the Year awards.[47] In July 2011 she was awarded "Best all-rounder" in the Total Politics End of Year MP awards[48] and in September 2011 she was awarded "MP of the Year" in the Women in Public Life Awards 2011.[49] Also in 2011 she was given the Political Studies Association award for "Influencing the Political Agenda"[50] and voted "Progressive of the Year" in Left Foot Forward's readers' poll.[51]

Personal life

Lucas married Richard Le Quesne Savage in 1991; the couple have two sons.[4][35] She is a vegetarian, telling Decca Aitkenhead in 2009: "I did try being a vegan".[12]

See also


  1. Harris, John (8 February 2010). "Could Brighton Pavilion elect Britain's first Green MP?". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 28 April 2010.
  2. 1 2 Greens Pick MEP Lucas to Run for MP, Brighton Argus, 18 July 2007
  3. 1 2 "Caroline Lucas: the Green in beige who could be Nick Clegg's nemesis". The Daily Telegraph. London. 3 September 2010.
  4. 1 2 "Lucas, Dr Caroline", Who's Who 2014, A & C Black, an imprint of Bloomsbury Publishing plc, 2014; online edn, Oxford University Press, 2014 ; online edn, Nov 2014. Retrieved 9 May 2015 (subscription required).
  5. 1 2 Spanner, Huw (4 February 2005). "Green Shift". Retrieved 7 May 2010.
  6. 1 2 3 Hattenstone, Simon (28 February 2015). "Caroline Lucas: 'I'm not in politics to play about'". The Guardian. Retrieved 8 December 2015.
  7. Assinder, Nick (1 April 2005). "Interview: Caroline Lucas". BBC News.
  8. 1 2 Lewis, Sarah (30 July 2007). "Profile on Caroline Lucas MEP". The Argus. Brighton. Retrieved 8 December 2015.
  9. "Ask...Green Party Member of Parliament Caroline Lucas". University of Exeter. 14 May 2013. Retrieved 8 December 2015.
  10. 1 2 3 4 5 6 Dr. Caroline Lucas MEP, in the European Parliament.
  11. "Caroline Lucas". Green Party. Retrieved 8 December 2015.
  12. 1 2 3 Aitkenhead, Decc (18 May 2009). "Caroline Lucas: 'We've got to get better at painting a positive vision of a post-carbon world. This is not about sitting around a candle in a cave'". The Guardian. Retrieved 2 September 2016.
  13. Elliott, Amber (17 December 2010). "Caroline Lucas: Going it alone". Total Politics. Retrieved 8 December 2015.
  14. 1 2 3 4 "Dr Caroline Lucas MEP". 2010-05-06. Retrieved 2013-08-19.
  15. "MEP fined over nuclear base protest". BBC News. 26 November 2016. Retrieved 4 September 2016.
  16. Cramb, Auslan (27 November 2001). "I'll risk jail, says MEP fined over Faslane". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 4 September 2016.
  17. Lucas, Caroline (10 January 2007). "Why it's vital to fight against this nuclear breach of peace". The Guardian. Retrieved 4 September 2016.
  18. "South East European Election Result". BBC News.
  19. MPs who have signed the Simpol Pledge: – MPs who have signed the Simpol Pledge
  20. "UK needs a 'Green New Deal'". 20 July 2008. Retrieved 4 January 2009.
  21. van der Zee, Bibi; Evans, Rob (2 July 2010). "Brighton MP declares support for acquitted Gaza campaigners". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 3 July 2010.
  22. Quinn, Ben (13 May 2012). "Caroline Lucas to step down as leader of the Green party". London: The Guardian.
  23. "Greens battle to be the first MP", The Argus, Brighton, 14 June 2007
  24. "Caroline Lucas in Page Three T-shirt protest during debate". BBC News. 12 June 2013. Retrieved 13 June 2013.
  25. "Green MP Caroline Lucas arrested at climate protest". BBC News. 19 August 2013. Retrieved 26 August 2013.
  26. "Green MP Caroline Lucas cleared over fracking protest". BBC News. 17 April 2014. Retrieved 17 April 2014.
  27. "Brighton Pavilion Parliamentary constituency". BBC News. Retrieved 8 May 2015.
  28. Stewart, Heather (31 May 2016). "Caroline Lucas to stand for Green party leadership as job share". The Guardian. Retrieved 31 May 2016.
  29. 1 2 Walker, Peter (2 September 2016). "Caroline Lucas and Jonathan Bartley voted joint leaders of Green party". The Guardian. Retrieved 2 September 2016.
  30. "Patrons and vice-presidents". RSPCA.
  31. "Green MEP Re-elected To CND National Council". Green Party.
  32. "Membership". All Party Parliamentary Group on Peak Oil and Gas.
  33. Hughes, Laura (8 December 2015). "Caroline Lucas resigns from Stop the War, after finding herself unable to support group's 'recent positions'". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 8 December 2015.
  34. Perraudin, Frances (8 December 2015). "Green MP Caroline Lucas steps down from Stop the War Coalition role". The Guardian. Retrieved 8 December 2015.
  35. 1 2 Riddell, Mary (13 December 2015). "Caroline Lucas: I don't want to be a stick to beat Jeremy Corbyn with". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 2 September 2016.
  36. 1 2 Dr Caroline Lucas MEP's Biography on her own website
  37. Michael Woodin and Caroline Lucas (2004). Green Alternatives to Globalisation. Pluto Press. p. 262. ISBN 0-7453-1932-7.
  38. People's Assembly opening letter 5 February 2013, The Guardian Newspaper.
  39. Caroline Lucas (5 March 2015). Honourable Friends: Parliament and the Fight for Change. Granta Publications. ISBN 978-1-84627-594-4.
  40. RSPCA Presents Lucas With ‘Michael Kay’ Award For Animal Welfare Work
  41. Who cares wins..., The Guardian
  42. The Observer Ethical Awards 2009, The Guardian
  43. Observer Ethical Awards: Caroline Lucas, Ethical Politician Award, The Guardian
  44. Vidal, John; Adam, David; Watts, Jonathan; Hickman, Leo; Sample, Ian (4 January 2008). "50 people who could save the planet". London: The Guardian. Retrieved 21 July 2011.
  45. MEP Awards 2008 Winners Archived 12 October 2009 at the Wayback Machine.
  46. The Green Awards: Our experts celebrate those doing most to protect our fragile environment, The Independent
  47. Parliamentarian of the Year award recipients 2010, The Spectator Archived 21 November 2010 at the Wayback Machine.
  48. "The End of Year MP awards". Total Politics. Retrieved 18 September 2011.
  49. "Women in Public Life Awards 2011". Dods Parliamentary Communications Limited. Retrieved 18 September 2011.
  50. "2011 Political Studies Association Awards Ceremony" (PDF). Political Studies Association. Archived from the original (PDF) on 21 March 2012. Retrieved 29 December 2011.
  51. "Look Left – Look back at the year". Left Foot Forward. Retrieved 17 January 2012.


Caroline Lucas keynote speech at the autumn conference of the Green Party of England and Wales with Councillor Rupert Read looking on, Hove, 2006-09-23

External links

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New office Leader of the Green Party of England and Wales
Succeeded by
Natalie Bennett
Preceded by
Natalie Bennett
Leader of the Green Party of England and Wales
Served alongside: Jonathan Bartley
Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
David Lepper
Member of Parliament
for Brighton Pavilion

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