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Global Green Party History Chronology - 1975

Table of Contents
- June: PEOPLE changes its name to Ecology Party
- November 29: Values Party achieves 5.2% of the vote in New Zealand General Elections

June: PEOPLE changes its name to Ecology Party

PEOPLE held its Second National Conference in Coventry in June and changed the party’s name to the Ecology Party and adopted the colour green.

According to PEOPLE co-founder Lesley Whittaker, there were pragmatic reasons for this: “voters did not connect PEOPLE with ecology. What I wanted was something that the media could look up in their files so that, when they wanted a spokesman of the issue of ecology, they could find the Ecology Party and pick up the phone. It was as brutal and basic as that. PEOPLE didn’t communicate what we had hoped it would communicate”.

Another reason many wanted to change the name was that often, PEOPLE was described in error as the People’s Party, which sounded vaguely communistic. And ironically, PEOPLE’s subtle, Aquarian colours of coral and turquoise reproduced as red, white and blue. Green was much simpler and communicated the ideal.

The party also drafted a new Manifesto for a Sustainable Society. The effort was led by Peter Allen, one of the new radicals that had opposed Lesley Whittaker’s Manifesto the previous year.

The Manifesto began with a nod to the Romantic poets:__“When in 1884 Lord Byron wrote: “The fact is riches are power and poverty is slavery all over the Earth and one sort of establishment is no better nor worse for than another”, there was every expectation that an increase in material affluence promised by the beginnings of the Industrial Revolution would at least ease the poverty. It is a sad indictment of the last 160 years that little has changed. Some nations have become very rich, but within them there is still abject poverty and the poor nations, if anything, are poorer”.

The Manifesto for a Sustainable Society continues to this day - the official record of Green Party policy. All policy decisions taken at the Party’s biannual conferences are incorporated into it.

November 29: Values Party achieves 5.2% of the vote in New Zealand General Elections

The first time the Values Party contested a New Zealand General Election was in November 1972, just six months after the party was founded. Values received 3.7% of the vote in the 42 districts they contested a seat (2.0% when spread over all 87 districts).

Over the next three years, Values debated Green policies and developed and expanded them to form the basis for 'Beyond Tomorrow', the 1975 Values Party manifesto. A comprehensive statement of Green politics, Beyond Tomorrow was even widely distributed overseas and contributed to the development of Green parties elsewhere, particularly England.

Beyond Tomorrow was more of a book (90 pages) than a manifesto, with its full colour cover of children on a rocky shore and its liberal illustration with black and white photographs, cartoons and line drawings. It featured three main section titles – Survival, Justice and Community.

Different and unusual were its pithy quotes from Values gurus like Gandhi, Martin Luther King, E.F. Schumacher and J.S. Mill. There were also quotes from pop songs and folk songs as apposite as Joni Mitchell’s ‘Big Yellow Taxi’ (‘So it always seems to go that you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone They paved paradise and put up a parking lot.’). The manifesto sold for $NZ 1:65 retail - and so many were sold, many by party members going door to door, that the sales financed the 1975 Values election campaign.

In the General Election, Values received 5.2%, a result which under today’s Mixed Member Proposal voting system in New Zealand would have earned Values several seats in Parliament. However, under the First Past the Post constituency-based system in place at the time, both Values and the Social Credit Party (7.4%) failed to win a seat.

While no seats were won, Robin Duff made news standing as an openly gay candidate in Christchurch Central.


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