The Liberal Democrats have thrown down the gauntlet to Caroline Lucas by selecting a candidate with a strong environmental track record to fight Britain’s only Green MP at next May’s general election.
He is Ringmer man Chris Bowers, 53, who was the founder director of the Environmental Transport Association in 1990, having brought the idea to Britain from Switzerland.
After seeing it through its launch phase, he went on to work as a communications consultant for the European Federation for Transport and Environment, a Brussels-based campaigning group for which he still works today.
But Bowers is better known as a writer and broadcaster, mainly on tennis. For 13 years he was a memberof the BBC 5 Live commentary team at Wimbledon, he commentates regularly for Eurosport and ESPN, and has written biographies of Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic, and the Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg.
“The Brighton Pavilion election will be an exciting four-way battle in which the Lib Dems offer environmentally concerned voters a real choice,” Bowers said. “There is relatively little on which I would disagree with Caroline Lucas, but the best she can hope for is to be a one-woman protest group at Westminster, whereas the Lib Dems have been in government and could be again, so we can get a lot more done.
“The Lib Dems have achieved a lot over the past four years, both running the Department for Energy and Climate Change and generally in government. We have created the world’s first green investment bank, we have introduced a safety framework for shale gas extraction that will make it much harder than people think for fracking to get a foothold, and we have stood up against unreconstructed Conservative right-wingers who view all attempts to protect the environment and fight climate change as ‘green crap’.”
Bowers stood for parliament in 2010 in the Wealden constituency (Crowborough, Uckfield and Hailsham), and since 2007 he has been a councillor on neighbouring Lewes District Council. He was re-elected in 2011 with an increased majority.
“Our main task between now and next May is to tell people what the Lib Dems have achieved in government,” Bowers added. “The media may have been reluctant to give us any credit, but we have created large numbers of new apprenticeships, restored the link between the state pension and inflation, made education fairer via the Pupil Premium, and raised the starting level for income tax to £10,000.
“None of this would have happened without the Lib Dems in government.”