Rupert Read

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Rupert Read
Rupert Read-IMG 4059.jpg
Rupert Read campaigning in Cambridge during the general election of 2015.
Norwich City Councillor for Wensum Ward
In office
10 June 2004 – 5 May 2011
Preceded by(new seat)
Succeeded byLucy Galvin
Personal details
Political partyGreen Party of England and Wales
Alma materBalliol College, Oxford

Rupert Read (born 1966) is an academic and a Green Party politician in England. He is Chair of the Green House thinktank, a former Green Party spokesperson for transport,[1] former East of England party co-ordinator and currently a Reader in Philosophy at the University of East Anglia.[2]

Read commented regularly through the Eastern Daily Press 'One World Column' for five years.[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
EraContemporary philosophy
RegionWestern Philosophy
SchoolAnalytic 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]

Read was one of five contributors, including Nassim Nicholas Taleb, to a paper entitled "The Precautionary Principle (with Application to the Genetic Modification of Organisms)".[5]

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

Green Party[edit]

Read was one of 13 Green Party councillors in Norwich, where he was first elected in 2004 to represent Wensum ward [6] and re-elected in 2007 with 49% of the vote.[7] He sat on the Joint Highways Committee of the city and county councils,[8] and was spokesperson on Transport for the Green Party city councillors.[9] Read stepped down from local politics in 2011 and Wensum was retained by the Green Party.[10]

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.[11] 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. For the 2019 European Elections, Read is standing as the second ranked candidate on the Eastern Region list for the Green Party.[12] 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.

Read stood as MP candidate for Cambridge in the 2015 general election.[13] He came fourth, having received 8% of the vote.[14]

Read has also given many talks to Green Party organisations including the Ealing Green Party in March 2019.[15]

In April 2019, Read became the second candidate on the Green Party list for the Eastern Region[16] and spent time in May campaigning with Caroline Lucas across the region.[17] [18]

Schools Strike for Climate[edit]

Read was one of 224 academics to sign an open letter of support for the ‘School strike for climate’ – a movement where children walked out of schools to protest and demand action on climate change.[19] In February 2019, Read joined school strikers at the Forum Library in Norwich[20] and subsequently gained media coverage for his own personal open letter to schools in Norwich urging them to be supportive of action from students.[21]

Extinction Rebellion[edit]

In October 2018 Read declared himself a supporter of Extinction Rebellion,[22] an environmental direct action group, becoming a signatory of their first[23] and second[24] open letters to The Guardian and taking part in at least one of their November actions in London.[25] A month later, Read took part in a sit-in to disrupt the consultation stage of a link between two major highways across ecologically significant Wensum Valley in Norfolk.[26]

In 2019, Read spoke to the Bath wing of Extinction Rebellion in a talk entitled ‘Your money or your life’  which focused on biodiversity, pollution, and climate change before exploring practical options around responding to the climate and ecological emergencies.[27]

Read played a major role in the April 2019 Extinction Rebellion in London. In addition to joining and speaking to protesters across London, Read appeared on a number of news platforms as spokesperson for Extinction Rebellion, putting forward their three demands not only to the New Scientist[28], but also to John Nicolson on talkRadio[29] and the combative Nick Ferrari on LBC[30]; as well as debating Extinction Rebellion’s approach and fracking’s impact on climate change during Jacob Rees-Mogg’s LBC show[31]; and explaining the Rebellion’s approach to Doug Henwood’s KPFA radio show in the USA.[32]

On television, Read appeared on Channel 5's 5 News[33] in a performance described by Naomi Klein as “absolutely amazing”[34], and BBC Politics Live where he notably successfully put pressure on Labour MP Jenny Chapman and Conservative minister Nadhim Zahawi to agree, live on TV, to meet with Extinction Rebellion, and additionally demanded that politicians stop spreading the myth – and misleading statistics – that the UK is a leader on climate change action.[35]

Through the work of their protests, Extinction Rebellion were invited to talk with the Mayor of London Sadiq Khan and Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell.[36] Additionally, Read was personally involved in meeting with Environment Secretary Michael Gove at DEFRA where he put forward Extinction Rebellion’s demands and concerns directly to the government.[37] [38]

A day later the UK Parliament became the first in the world to declare a ‘climate change emergency’[39]; part of the first one of Extinction Rebellion’s three demands.[40]

Political journalism[edit]

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.[41]

Leave Our Kids Alone[edit]

Read is co-founder of the Leave our Kids Alone campaign, which seeks a ban on all advertising targeting children under 11.[42]

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.[43] The proposal was launched at Parliament on 10 Jan 2012.

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",[44] 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.[45] 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 LGBTIQ Greens, 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[46] 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.[47] 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.[48] Tatchell says he received thousands of critical comments in response to this, some of which were hateful or threatening.[49]

Selected bibliography[edit]

  • (Co-authored with James L. Guetti) Meaningful Consequences, The Philosophical Forum, Volume XXX, Issue 4, December 1999, Pages 289–315.
  • (Edited with Alice Crary) The New Wittgenstein, London: Routledge, 2000.
  • (Co-authored with Wes Sharrock) Kuhn: Philosopher of Scientific Revolution, Oxford: Polity, 2002.
  • (Co-edited with Jerry Goodenough) Film as Philosophy: Essays in Cinema after Wittgenstein and Cavell (2005).
  • Philosophy for Life: Applying Philosophy in Politics and Culture (2007).
  • "The Tale Parfit Tells: Analytic Metaphysics of Personal Identity vs. Wittgensteinian Film and Literature," in Philosophy and Literature 39.1 (April 2015): 128-53.
  • Nassim Nicholas Taleb, Rupert Read, Raphael Douady, Joseph Norman, Yaneer Bar-Yam. The Precautionary Principle (With Application to the Genetic Modification of Organisms) , (2014).


  1. ^ "Green Party Spokespeople". GPofE&W.
  2. ^ a b c d UEA Faculty page, Accessed 9 July 2009
  3. ^ 'One World Column', Eastern Daily Press. Archived 5 November 2007 at the Wayback Machine (Accessed 21 November 2007)
  4. ^ Philosophy for Life: Applying Philosophy in Politics and Culture on (Accessed 21 November 2007)
  5. ^ Nassim, Taleb; et al. (17 October 2014). "The Precautionary Principle (with Application to the Genetic Modification of Organisms)". arXiv:1410.5787.
  6. ^ "Local Elections Archive Project — Wensum Ward".
  7. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 28 September 2015. Retrieved 28 September 2015.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  8. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 29 September 2015. Retrieved 28 September 2015.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  9. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 28 September 2015. Retrieved 28 September 2015.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  10. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 29 September 2015. Retrieved 28 September 2015.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  11. ^ Eastern Green Party website (Accessed 22 May 2009)
  12. ^
  13. ^ Read announced as General Election candidate for Cambridge
  14. ^ "Election results for Cambridge Borough, 7 May 2015". 7 May 2015. Archived from the original on 28 September 2015. Retrieved 8 May 2015.
  15. ^ Ealing Green Party (11 March 2019), Talk by Rupert Read “Your money or your life?”, retrieved 17 May 2019
  16. ^ "News". Retrieved 17 May 2019.
  17. ^ Grimmer, Dan. "European elections as much about climate change as about Brexit, says Green MP during Norwich visit". Eastern Daily Press. Retrieved 17 May 2019.
  18. ^ "Green Party rallies in Cambridge ahead of the European elections". Varsity Online. Retrieved 17 May 2019.
  19. ^ "School climate strike children's brave stand has our support | Letter". The Guardian. 13 February 2019. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 17 May 2019.
  20. ^ Whymark, Bethany. "Students to strike for second time over climate change". Eastern Daily Press. Retrieved 17 May 2019.
  21. ^ Scott, Geraldine. "Norwich schools urged by activists to let students skip class for climate protest". Eastern Daily Press. Retrieved 17 May 2019.
  22. ^ Read, Rupert (15 October 2018). "After the IPCC report, #climatereality". Rupert Read. Medium. Retrieved 18 February 2019.
  23. ^ Alison Green; et al. (26 October 2018). "Facts about our ecological crisis are incontrovertible. We must take action". The Guardian. Retrieved 17 November 2018.
  24. ^ Vandana Shiva; et al. (9 December 2018). "Act now to prevent an environmental catastrophe". The Guardian. Retrieved 11 December 2018.
  25. ^ Middleton, Lucy (24 November 2018). "Protesters dragged away after gluing themselves to Buckingham Palace gates". Metro. Retrieved 18 February 2019.
  26. ^ Grimmer, Dan. "WATCH: See what happened when climate campaigners staged a sit-in protest at NDR event in Norwich". Norwich Evening News. Retrieved 17 May 2019.
  27. ^ Rupert Read (28 March 2019), Our Rebellion Against Extinctions - Rupert Read, retrieved 17 May 2019
  28. ^ Retrieved 17 May 2019. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  29. ^ Rupert Read (19 April 2019), Rupert Read defends Extinction Rebellion London protests on Talk Radio - 19/04/19, retrieved 17 May 2019
  30. ^ Rupert Read (19 April 2019), Rupert Read defends Extinction Rebellion London protests on Talk Radio - 19/04/19, retrieved 17 May 2019
  31. ^ "Jacob Rees-Mogg Goes Head-To-Head With Extinction Rebellion Spokesperson". LBC. Retrieved 17 May 2019.
  32. ^ "Radio archives". Retrieved 17 May 2019.
  33. ^ Rupert Read (19 April 2019), Rupert Read's Ch5 interview discussing the Extinction Rebellion London Protests, retrieved 17 May 2019
  34. ^ Klein, Naomi (19 April 2019). "This is absolutely amazing. …". @NaomiAKlein. Retrieved 17 May 2019. External link in |title= (help)
  35. ^ ExtinctionRebellion (23 April 2019), Rupert Read, "Everyone knows our democracy is broken..." - Politics Live - Extinction Rebellion, retrieved 17 May 2019
  36. ^ "Sadiq Khan meets Extinction Rebellion protesters and promises to consider citizens' assembly on climate change". The Independent. 29 April 2019. Retrieved 17 May 2019.
  37. ^ Defra (30 April 2019), Secretary Of State & Extinction Rebellion Meeting, retrieved 17 May 2019
  38. ^ Grimmer, Dan. "Former Norwich city councillor among Extinction Rebellion group 'disappointed' after Michael Gove meeting". Eastern Daily Press. Retrieved 17 May 2019.
  39. ^ "UK Parliament declares climate emergency". 1 May 2019. Retrieved 17 May 2019.
  40. ^ Retrieved 17 May 2019. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  41. ^ "Are we a consumerist society - or a 'producerist' society?". Retrieved 15 March 2017.
  42. ^ "Leave our kids alone – the case for banning ads targeted at children | Liberal Conspiracy". Retrieved 15 March 2017.
  43. ^ "Rupert Read: Creating 'guardians' for future generations - News and Events - UEA". Retrieved 15 March 2017.
  44. ^ "Rupert Read: Green party candidate apologises for offending transgender people". The Independent. 23 January 2015. Retrieved 26 January 2015.
  45. ^ "Don't throw the Feminist baby out with the Burchill bathwater". Talking Philosophy (comment). 24 January 2015. Retrieved 5 March 2015.
  46. ^ "Green candidate apologises for offending trans people". Pink News. 22 January 2015. Retrieved 26 January 2015.
  47. ^ "I apologised for offending transgender people but that wasn't enough". Independent. 4 February 2015. Retrieved 5 March 2015.
  48. ^ "We cannot allow censorship or silencing of individuals". Observer. 15 February 2015. Retrieved 5 March 2015.
  49. ^ "Peter Tatchell: Twitter mob who vowed to kill me over transgender letter have it all wrong". International Business Times. 17 February 2015. Retrieved 5 March 2015.

External links[edit]