Sat, 17 Nov 2018
WEST Berkshire Green Party has announced its parliamentary candidate to contest the next general election in 2022.
The party’s former chairman Steve Masters will be battling to oust Richard Benyon from his seat and become the next MP for Newbury, the environmentalist organisation has revealed.
A former serviceman, Mr Masters served in the RAF as an aircraft engineer for 20 years and joined West Berkshire Greens in April 2015 after the party’s national surge in membership and votes in the 2015 general election.
He stood down as party chairman last month, after two years in the role.
He was the Green Party candidate for Thatcham South and Crookham in the West Berkshire local election last June, receiving 15.6 per cent of the vote. He also won the Inspiring Candidate award at the Green Party Conference in 2017.
At the time of joining West Berkshire Greens, Mr Masters said the party only had a “loose group of members”, who were not that politically active in local government.
But he believes the prominent rise of the Greens, whose membership has increased by 40 per cent since 2015, underlines the growth of the party.
Speaking to the Newbury Weekly News, Mr Masters said: “Realistically, I think my chances are very slim unless there’s a massive change in public opinion built around the effects of climate change.
“But my profile is as high as anybody locally, I think.
“I think my lived experienced is probably more representative of the majority of the constituents in Newbury.
“When I talk to people on the doorstep – of all political persuasions – they actually say it’s nice to meet a politician.
“There’s a very real chance we could have some green councillors in the council elections, which would be quite a revolution.”
Originally from Knottingley, West Yorkshire, Mr Masters relocated to Thatcham in 2005, after retiring from the RAF.
He became homeless for 10 months in 2009, before securing social housing, and now lives on a narrowboat on the Kennet and Avon Canal, currently moored in Newbury, where he will remain throughout the winter.
A prominent activist, Mr Masters was also one of several local green party members who dumped bins filled with garden waste outside the district council’s Market Street offices in February in a protest against the introduction of the £50 green bin recycling charge.
In June, he started a petition against proposals to extend the badger cull into West Berkshire, which has so far received more than 14,000 signatures.
Earlier this month, the 48-year-old was one of 15 environmental activists who was arrested outside the Houses of Parliament at a civil disobedience campaign in London calling for action on the climate emergency.
Speaking more generally about his recent protests and brief arrest, Mr Masters added: “I don’t want to get arrested, but sometimes it’s the only way to get people to listen.
“Ordinary people have to do extraordinary things.”