The founding of Oxford Ecology Party (OEP) remembered by Phil Foggitt. This contribution is an edited from an email conversation between Phil and David Taylor in June 2016
"I cannot recall the sequence of events clearly but I was actively involved in the EP, FoE, and green politics in Oxford and stood as a local candidate in St.Clements ward. I also helped with drafting national policy1 in the very early stages.
I joined a South-African guy whose name evades me,2 in founding the Oxford Ecology Party (OEP). This other guy then moved away leaving me co-ordinating activities. Others I remember being involved included Jenny Lindsell and Dick Helling.
I can’t recall the relations between us and Oxford Ecology Movement (OEM), but I was actively involved with FoE during this time doing paper recycling with a 1947 milk float and was of the opinion that ecologists should become actively involved in politics because it was the political policies which were creating the problems in the first place.
Also at this time Oxford FoE opened up a shop in Cowley Road called Earth-n-Wear3 (I recall I was the sole volunteer to decorate it!) selling all manner of subversive materials such as “For Fox Sake Stop Hunting” t-shirts, badges etc and recycled paper loo rolls, cycle trailers etc. It became another venue for greenies to meet after Jon’s bookshop4 across the road.
In terms of left-right scale of EP members, I was on the right in terms of strategy. i.e. I felt we should have one leader (M or F) not 2 as some suggested later, and that we needed to present as efficient/competent a front as possible and be as visible in the mainstream as possible. Others were more anarchically motivated and didn’t seem to be as bothered about moving beyond much of a small clique or pressure group. "
OEP was founded in late 1978 and initially was not affiliated to the Ecology Party. In the January 1979 Ecology Party newsletter the Oxford Branch is first listed as "being formed", but there is then no further mention of an Oxford branch right through until the last econews in March 1980. According to Anthony Cheke the OEP was formed as a result of an internal disagreement in Oxford Ecology Movement (OEM) with one particular member2 who then left OEM and started OEP. OEP contested four seats at the City Council elections in May 1979, informal discussions with OEM ensured that they did not contest the same wards, so overall there were 8 'green' candidates for the council. The local election was held on the same day as the general election in which Anthony Cheke stood for the Oxford seat for the Oxford Ecology Movement.
After the 1979 election OEM disbanded and several members went on to join OEP which then stood in subsequent city council elections and affiliated with the Ecology Party. By January 1980 Phil Foggitt is listed in econews as convening the Transport Policy Working Group so had clearly joined the EP. Whatever the status of the OEP group with respect to the Ecology Party, many or most of its members were also members of the national Ecology Party. For the 1983 general election the old Oxford constituency had been split into Oxford East and Oxford West with Abingdon. The Ecology Party stood then in Oxford West.
Oxford continued to be a hotbed of Ecology Party/Green Party activity throughout the 1980s with a very active group. Penny (Penelope) Newsome who was actively involved throughout remembers :-
"I think something more could be said about Oxford Green Party activities in the 1980s. Jon Carpenter really got OEP going and Jenny Lindsell was responsible for its work in the mid eighties. Don Smith's work in the second half of the 80s deserves remembering. He paved the way really for Councillors to get elected and put not only time and energy into that but also his own money. At one time he employed both me and Tim Andrewes to do press work and Tim continued with him to institute the first Oxford Green newspaper. We also put up a lot of stuff in conference and some of us went to Antwerp and other 'international ' events- though I expect by then other local green parties were doing the same."
"I should add that that, thanks to being employed by Don Smith to do press, that while Don and Tim got the Green newspaper going I managed a terrific coverage in the Oxford Times for green views on every important topic; they published all of my long press releases every week. I don't think there is been such overall coverage for Oxford Green Party since! A pity it didn't go on, but I was of course paid by Don to do it, so one had time. Good work, Don"
Tim Andrewes went on to work on Green Line magazine with Jon Carpenter, and subsequently taking on the lead role there. The Oxford Green Party achieved particular success in 1993 when Caroline Lucas managed to win her first public office as a Green Councillor for Oxfordshire County Council.
We invite anyone involved in the plethora of green activities in Oxford through the 1980s to contribute their own recollections to further enhance this section. There is more on Green Line magazine which Jon Carpenter started here, and all the issues from the 1980s are available in the Doc.Library. Lists of contents by year can be found here.
- of the Ecology Party
- presumably Rodney Curtis as referenced in OEM Members Newsletter Nov'78
- Earth'n'Wear opened in Spring 1982 as a coop. The premises were shared with Oxford FoE office, a recycling project and a community print shop.
- Jon Carpenter ran the East Oxford Advertiser (EOA) Bookshop in Cowley Road and co-founded and edited GreenLine newsletter/magazine which started in early 1982