Rupert Read

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Rupert Read
Norwich City Councillor for Wensum Ward
In office
10 June 2004 – 5 May 2011
Preceded by (new seat)
Succeeded by Lucy Galvin
Personal details
Born 1966
Political party Green Party of England and Wales
Alma mater Balliol College, Oxford
Religion Quaker[1]

Rupert Read (born 1966) is an academic and a Green Party politician in England. He is Chair of the Green House thinktank, East of England Green Party Co-ordinator and a Reader in Philosophy at the University of East Anglia.[2]

Read comments regularly through the Eastern Daily Press 'One World Column'.[3] In his regular appearances in the local and national press, he speaks on sustainable transport, green economics and social justice.

Academic career[edit]

Rupert Read
Era Contemporary philosophy
Region Western Philosophy
School Analytic philosophy
Main interests
Philosophy of literature, Philosophy and film, Ludwig Wittgenstein, Philosophy of science

Read studied Philosophy, Politics and Economics (PPE) at Balliol College, Oxford,[2] before undertaking postgraduate studies in the United States at Princeton University and Rutgers University (where he gained his doctorate). Influenced by Ludwig Wittgenstein’s philosophy, his PhD involved “a Wittgensteinian exploration of the relationship between Kripke’s ‘quus’ problem and Nelson Goodman’s ‘grue’ problem.”[2]

He is Reader in Philosophy at the University of East Anglia, specialising in philosophy of language, philosophy of science, and environmental philosophy, previously having taught at Manchester.[2] He has contributed to many books, including, in 2002, Kuhn: Philosopher of Scientific Revolution, on the work of Thomas Kuhn, and, in 2005, Film As Philosophy: Essays in Cinema After Wittgenstein And Cavell. His book Philosophy for Life: Applying Philosophy in Politics and Culture, was released in July 2007.[4]

Political career[edit]

Caroline Lucas giving a keynote speech, with Rupert Read looking on, at the autumn conference of the Green Party of England and Wales, Hove, 2006

Read was one of 13 Green Party councillors in Norwich, where he was first elected in 2004 to represent Wensum ward and re-elected in 2007 with 49% of the vote. He sat on the Joint Highways Committee of the city and county councils, and was spokesperson on Transport for the Green Party city councillors. He is also the Green Party's representative on Norwich Peace Council and has been an active opponent of the British Government's foreign policy. Read stepped down from local politics in 2011 and Wensum was retained by the Green Party.

Having held a number of officer posts for the Eastern Region Green Party, at the beginning of 2007 Rupert Read was selected as Eastern Region Green Party’s lead candidate for the European Parliament elections in 2009 and again in 2014.[5] The East of England is one the Green Party’s stronger regions in terms of support, and under the proportional representation system on which the European Elections operate, the Party was optimistic that he would represent them in the European Parliament. However, he was beaten to the last of the seven seats in the constituency by the United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP) in 2009, and similarly in 2014. He stood in the Norwich North by-election, 2009, as the Green Party candidate, and returned the biggest by-election vote share in Green History with 9.7% of the vote.

Rupert Read is standing as MP candidate for Cambridge in the 2015 general election.[6]

Green House Think Tank[edit]

Rupert Read is chair of Green House. Green House is a green think tank, founded in 2011. Caroline Lucas commented on its launch, "Green House will present a radical challenge, not just to ordinary politics but to all of us in the progressive and environmental wing of politics.

Its primary aim is to lead the development of green thinking in the UK. It does so primarily by publishing for free download reports on green topics, and also by holding events, running a website including shorter pieces or gases on topical subjects, intervening in media debates and maintaining a supporters’ network.

Leave Our Kids Alone[edit]

Co-founder of the Leave our Kids Alone campaign. Leave Our Kids Alone wants a ban on all advertising targeting children under 11.

As parents we aim to protect our children from the worst of the adult world. We’re careful about the people our children come into contact with. Teachers, care assistants, medics, child minders; they’re all vetted and most have to be qualified. Above all they’re expected to have the best interests of our children at heart.

That’s not true of advertising. The commercial world serves its shareholders. Our children’s wellbeing simply is not their primary concern. It’s often of little or of no concern at all.

Advertising is a £12 Billion a year industry in the UK alone. In order to sell us things it uses sophisticated techniques to play on our emotions, our insecurities, our need to be respected, our need to be loved. Similar techniques are increasingly being used on children, some of them not yet old enough to read.

We believe that’s wrong. We believe that if companies make products for children they should aim to persuade parents, not children of four, six or eight. Our children need space to discover themselves, to learn about the world, to realise that not everything adults say can be taken at face value, to handle money, to learn the true worth of things.

We believe children should be free to grow up without today’s intense commercial pressures, to become young citizens and not just little consumers.

The Really Ethical PR Company[edit]

In 2012 Rupert Read formed The Really Ethical PR Agency - a protest group designed to prove that representing dictators, toxic-waste companies etc is just really bad PR...

Political Journalism[edit]

Rupert Read was a regular contributor to the One World Column in the EDP, focussing on international development, poverty, globalisation, peacemaking, human rights, international relations and the environment. He has also had articles printed in Resurgence, Red Pepper, New Internationalist, the Guardian, the Independent and The Ecologist, amongst others.

Guardians for future generations[edit]

Rupert Read has developed, on the basis of his research in political and environmental philosophy, a radical proposal for institutional reform, to provide a place in the UK's democratic system for a voice for future people. The proposal was launched at Parliament on 10 Jan 2012. Responses, generally positive, were given by Caroline Lucas MP, Jon Cruddas MP, and Government Minister Norman Baker MP. Hungary’s Ombudsman for Future Generations issued a message of endorsement. Read’s report has attracted widespread media and NGO interest; a further meeting took place in London on April 25, 2012, hosted by the Guardian, to discuss it.

Dr Read believes his radical idea would stop us bequeathing a damaged and dangerous country to our descendants. He said: “This event will stimulate debate about how we can represent the interests of future generations within our existing parliamentary democracy. The kind of care that we take towards our own children needs to be extended en masse to cover all children, their children’s children, and so on, on a society-wide level. Decisions taken today will have significant consequences for people yet to be born, so the interests of future generations need to be formally represented. In other words, future people should be included among 'the people'. Obviously future generations can’t vote, but this would give them the closest equivalent by creating a council of Guardians of Future Generations – a third legislative house. They would have the power to scrutinise and if necessary veto proposals that they judge would impact negatively on future people’s basic rights. The members of this body would be selected by sortition, as is current practice for jury service, to ensure independence from present-day party political interests. They would be free from party pressure, and the pressures of short term electoral cycles, so they would represent a more genuine ‘us’. Random selection would also emphasise that we all share responsibility for future generations – and that none of us, and all of us, are qualified to do this. “It sounds radical, but many radical ideas throughout history have come to be accepted as the norm, after at first seeming to be ‘too extreme’ to many people.

Transphobia controversy[edit]

In January 2015, Read apologised for tweets in which he was interpreted as describing trans women as "a sort of 'opt-in' version of what it is to be a woman",[7] though he denied he did or ever had believed this and further stated: "I do not and never have believed that trans-women are not real women, or are any less women." He said he did not consider being a trans woman a choice.[8] He said he did not stand by everything he had written two years earlier and did not consider being a trans woman a choice. His comments caused concern within the Green LGBTIQ group, who invited him to "engage with LGBTIQ Greens and listen to our deep concerns over his comments on trans people and of the phenomena that is trans."

Read took up this offer and spent time with trans people in an effort to fully understand their lives. In his subsequent apology, Read said that "most of the offence caused by my tweets is a result of misunderstandings generated by the fragmented and angry nature of so much debate on Twitter" and reiterated that "it is up to women, not anyone else – and certainly not me – to decide who gets let into women-only spaces ... All women have a right to be involved in making those decisions." He also said he "reject[s] transphobia completely". In a separate article he stated[9] Read made a further apology in the Independent in which he said: that "trans people ... need our active engagement in the issues they face" and referred to some of the difficulties trans people face and his meetings with trans Greens.[10] Peter Tatchell and Mary Beard were among the signatories to a letter to the Observer which criticised the "censorship and silence of individuals", and explicitly mentioned Read.[11] Tatchell says he received thousands of critical comments in response to this, some of which were hateful or threatening.[12]

Selected bibliography[edit]

  • (co-authored with James L. Guetti, 1999) Meaningful Consequences, The Philosophical Forum, Volume XXX, Issue 4, December 1999, Pages 289-315.
  • (edited with Alice Crary, 2000) The New Wittgenstein, London: Routledge
  • (co-authored with Wes Sharrock, 2002) Kuhn: Philosopher of Scientific Revolution, Oxford: Polity
  • (co-edited with Jerry Goodenough, 2005) Film As Philosophy: Essays in Cinema After Wittgenstein and Cavell
  • (2007) Philosophy for Life: Applying Philosophy in Politics and Culture


External links[edit]