I recently had the pleasure of talking to the good folk at The Big Green Politics Podcast. If you are in the small group of people who don’t feel that you hear me voice my opinions enough then you can listen again below.
Tag Archives: The Green Party
Greens to win in Brighton and finish second place in Norwich according to Lord Ashcroft after latest poll
Writing on his findings the pollster commented:
“The swing to Labour would have been even greater had it not been for the Green Party, which has attracted around one in seven Lib Dem defectors in these seats since 2010. I found the Greens in second place on 20% in Norwich South, and third on 10% in Manchester Withington. Indeed for every two Lib Dem defectors switching to Labour, one has gone to the Greens.
The Greens’ performance suggests they may have been identified as the new non-of-the-above vote for former Lib Dems who dislike the coalition and do not want to back any of the established parties. In other words, they could perform the same function for younger urban voters that UKIP currently does among older voters in other parts of the country.
In Brighton Pavilion (whose figures are not included in the overall calculations for the Lib Dem-Lab marginals), I found Labour on 33%, just one point ahead of the Greens, who were up a point on the last election. The seat will evidently be closely contested but on this basis I would not be surprised to see Caroline Lucas holding on next year.”
Lord Ashcroft’s polling has consistently found the Green Party to be on 6-7% of the national vote share – a huge increase on their 1% vote share from 2010 and leaves them not only as the main contender for seats such as Brighton Pavilion and Norwich South but also realistically looking to keep their deposits in a number of seats across the country.
This polling follows strong performances in May’s elections where the Greens elected an additional MEP (and as such they proudly point out they now have treble the number of the Liberal Democrats MEPs) and beat the Lib Dems into in the total vote share – 1.2million voted for a Greens compared to for the Lib Dems 1.09million. The Greens also gained 23 additional councillors at the Local Elections and are now the official opposition in Liverpool, Norwich, Solihull and the London boroughs of Lewisham and Islington.
Things are looking up for Green politics in the UK.
The good folk at Norwich Green Party just tweeted me to say:
— Norwich Green Party (@NorwichGreens) July 1, 2014
The Green Party has today latched on to the latest Ipsos Mori polling that puts them on 8% of vote share ahead of the 2015 General Election. This, according to the Ipsos Mori polling, leaves them neck and neck with the Lib Dems.
Everything about their press release is true but for it to be useful in understanding the Greens prospects come 2015 it needs to be placed in a little bit of context.
1) The Greens took just 1% of vote in the 2010 election. It looks like they will make big gains on this come 2015.
2) An average of the last 20 opinion polls put The Green Party on 5% and the Liberal Democrats on 8%. In other words, if I was a betting man I would still be predicting The Green Party will finish 5th behind the Lib Dems.
3) Lord Ashcroft today confirmed in a separate poll of Tory/Lib Dem marginal seats that the Lib Dems will keep hold of some of them – just not many. However, you can bet your bottom dollar they will return more MPs than the Green Party (who currently hold one).
4) The Ipsos Mori poll asked just 1,001 their opinion – it needs to be taken with a pinch of salt.
All that said, the fact that the Green Party are polling like this nationally might well prove to be an additional headache for Ed Miliband’s Labour in their marginal battlegrounds such as Stroud and is a big step up from where they have been coming into previous elections.
The Green Party sent out an interesting press release today stating that their membership had ‘grown by 23% in the first 5 months of 2014’.
Let’s keep this claim in perspective, it has grown from being small to not quite so small, but the fact that it has grown at all, let alone to some 17,000 people, is interesting for two reasons.
Firstly, it is well and truly bucking the trend of party membership that is being endured by the big three political parties.
Party political membership has been on the dramatic decline since the Second World War resulting in just 1% of the population now holding membership to a political party.
As the BBC rather dryly pointed out:
“There are more members of the Caravan Club, or the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, than of all Britain’s political parties put together.”
Indeed, the Conservative Party membership is thought to have almost halved under Cameron (although figures are not official it is thought to be as low as 134,000 now!)
A House of Commons briefing paper put the Labour and Lib Dem membership on 193,000 and 49,000 respectively (although in reality the figure will be much lower by now).
So, for The Green Party to be able to claim to be ‘on course to break 20,000 members’ by the end of the year is a pretty impressive, especially considering the general discontent with party political politics.
Secondly it is an important building block to the long-term success of the party. Although The Green Party had a reasonable local and European election last month, we know that voters can be fickle and that many of these will vote elsewhere come May 2015.
Members in contrast have shown a commitment (they have paid some of their hard earned cash to start with) to the party that should be longer lasting. Members provide a volunteer as well as economic base for the party to grow from. This in turn can help the party launch better (funded) election campaigns that will potentially lead to more elected representatives which eventually can lead to their actual goal – more Green Party policies being introduced.
You can find out about joining the Green Party by clicking here.
UPDATE: Liberal Democrat Mark Pack has just tweeted this:
Points to take from this are: One, small recent upsurge in Lib Dem membership but, two, this surge takes them to just 44,000 – 5,000 less than the figure the 2012 HoC paper put them on.
I wonder how much of this recent ‘growth’ can be explained by some of the 35% of Lib Dem members that left between 2010 and 2012 (42,000 down from 65,000) coming back to the party after venting their anger at the coalition?
The European Election results are in (Scotland and N.Ireland coming in later today) and if there is one conclusion to draw it’s this: I got it a little wrong on a number of predictions.
So this is the overall picture from England and Wales:
UKIP have done very well like I predicted and Labour have done OK – but not well enough – also like I predicted. The Liberal Democrats have just avoided a whitewash unlike the BNP – all like I predicted.
I am pointing out what I got right, not to be smug, but to give myself some credit before highlighting how wrong I was regarding The Green Party (whose position I spent most time analyzing).
I predicted The Green Party would pick up 4-6 MEPs (in line with many polls). They have returned 3 (although still have an outside chance for a 4th in Scotland).
In the East of England I was confident that The Green Party would elect one MEP. This didn’t happen (although they did beat the Lib Dems into 4th). I was right in predicting Labour could not get a second seat there but I underestimated The Conservatives’ ability to get their core vote out (they dropped just 2.84% from their 2009 high – that is really impressive!).
Equally, in the North West with the collapse of the BNP and the Liberal Democrats I predicted a Green gain. Once again the Conservative vote held up stronger than expected. This combined with BIG gains for UKIP meant that for the second election running The Green Party just missed out (although also beat the Lib Dems into 4th).
However, in my home region of The South West there was a pleasant surprise. Here I looked hard at the stats and just couldn’t call it. Would The Liberal Democrat vote hold up enough to gain the last seat or would there be a huge surge in Green votes? As it happened both the Lib Dems collapsed and The Green Party claimed a huge 11% of the vote.
That means Molly Scott-Cato is the first ever Green MEP for the South West. I am really delighted for her. I know her well enough to be able to say that she will be a real asset to both the South West and the green group in the European Parliament.
Anyway – this just goes to show two things: One, it is worth voting Green and two, it is also worth ignoring what I say a reasonable proportion of the time!
Full election results here (remember 27 other countries are also voting in this election!).
Just seen this photo from the count of Molly – I think she looks happy!
This on the Lib Dems performance
Last night was a ‘pretty disappointing night’ for Lib Dems in the same way the Titanic had a ‘pretty disappointing crossing’
— Lembit Öpik (@lembitopik) May 26, 2014
A quick hat tip to The Green Party on hearing the news that they have returned £7,000 to multimillionaire Tony Tabatznik (£).
Tabatznik, a former Labour Party donor, is one of Britain’s richest men and yet is also not a full UK tax payer (something we and The Labour Party have known since at least 2002).
The Green Party have returned his donation stating it was not ‘ethical’.
Read the full story in The Times.
‘The Green Party is on track to beat the Lib Dems in May’s European Parliament elections’. That is the message being put out by the party today as they launch their European election campaign.
Although they have, to put it kindly, stretched the polling evidence (most polls still suggest Lib Dems will pip the Greens but not by much) there is real hope of The Green Party tripling the number of MEPs as the Liberal Democrats haemorrhage their 2009 vote share (they are polling around 9% – down from 2009’s 13.7%).
Interestingly even the one polling that The Green Party quote to suggest they are on track to beat the Lib Dems nationally has a headline figures suggesting the Lib Dems will beat The Green Party. To justify the claim of ‘being on course’ to beat the Lib Dems, the Greens use the figures from those saying they are likely to vote in May (see page 2).
This said, I am still expecting significant Green gains and Lib Dems losses come May’s elections.
The Green Party leader, Natalie Bennett, commented to the BBC today that the party needs a swing of just 1.6% to secure an additional 4 Members of the European Parliament (MEPs).
While the national polling is putting the Greens on a comparable vote share as 2009 (roughly 8%) they do have certain regional advantages (collapse of Lib Dems and BNP in specific regions play into their favour).
In light of this it is also looking increasingly likely that The Green Party will make gains in the East of England and the North West (I have written detailed voting breakdowns for the regions here and here).
In both regions, where I predicted a Green gains, I have also predicted Lib Dem losses.
Assuming that the electorate return The Green Party’s 2 current MEPs (for London and the South East) this will see them double their number of MEPs.
In addition there are regions such as the South West where in 2009 the Greens secured 9.3% of the vote (more than their national average and beating Labour) but just missed out on securing a MEP. It would take a small increase in vote share to secure their first MEP in regions such as the South West.
It would be a disaster though for the Lib Dems if this Green gain came at the expense of their one current MEP (the party secured 17% of the vote in 2009). In line with the national picture though it is still the Conservatives and their coalition partners the Liberal Democrats that have the most to lose!
In the regions such as the South West it will be an extremely tight race.
Whatever you do though come May, make sure you are registered to vote.
There are only 24 days to go….you have to decide, which party do you want representing you in the European Parliament?
I have written before about why I thought that UKIP would, like other far-right groups, rise and fall in the polls. I expected the May 2014 elections to represent their high before starting to crumble before the 2015 elections.
However, a new FT/Populus poll today shows that most of those planning to vote UKIP in May are also planning on supporting the party in 2015. This could be bad news for both Labour and Conservatives in key marginal seats. The Lib Dems however would surely gain from a strong UKIP turnout in 2015 as they fight their marginal seats against divided votes.
As Lord Ashcroft pointed out last month, these findings also question the effectiveness of the proposed Tory ‘Vote UKIP get Labour’ messaging planned for the next general election. Most UKIP voters don’t care if they get Cameron or Miliband. It would appear that a ‘they’re as bad as each other’ feeling is permeating UKIP supporters.
However, the FT/Populus poll also shows support for UKIP for the May 2014 elections at a relative low of 25%. Significantly 2 percent behind the Conservatives and 6 percent behind Labour. This is a far cry from UKIP’s aim of topping the polls in May 2014.
The FT/Populus poll also spells bad news for The Green Party giving them just a 3% share of the national vote (about half the lowest vote share they secured anywhere in England and Wales in 2009)!
You can see the detailed results here.
Have a sneak preview of The Green Party political broadcast.
It’s nice, but once again…it is missing the three simple things I was hoping to see from The Green Party:
- Talking about issues that matter to people (economy, immigration, unemployment etc)
- Getting across a ‘feeling’ of what The Green Party stand for (they even used the acronym TTIP!!!)
- Leaving the electorate clear on what their position is on the EU.
As a result I cannot see it shifting significant numbers of voters.
Anyway, it’s quirky so enjoy:
The Green Party has a list of progressive policies that have been shown to be the most popular with the electorate. Despite this they have consistently failed to perform well elections.
Here are 3 simple things The Green Party could do to increase their chance of success in the up-coming May 2014 European elections:
1) Talk about issues that important to the electorate
This doesn’t mean selling out on core principles of social justice and environmentalism but simply relating them to ordinary people’s concerns and hopes.
At the top of this list (at the moment at least) has to be the economy but issues around immigration, unemployment and the NHS should all be regular features of their messaging.
Note: The environment does not appear in the top 10.
2) Start thinking in terms of ‘voter’s feelings’ rather than policy outcomes
As I have argued elsewhere, UKIP have been soaring in the recent polls exactly because they have been able to install a general feeling amongst the electorate (despite having next to no coherent policies) about ‘standing up for Britain’.
The Green Party stands in complete contrast to UKIP in this sense – great policies but no one really knows what they stand for.
Over the coming couple of months then I hope to hear Greens talking, not about policies such ‘The Financial Transaction Tax’ or even the ‘Robin Hood Tax’, but instead about ‘principles’ such as ‘standing up for a fairer economy that puts people before big business.
3) Be bold, be seen as pro-EU
The Green Party has traditionally held quite a complex position on the EU. They opposed the UK joining the euro for example but support membership of the EU. They want an in/out referendum but are broadly an internationalist party.
In this election though The Green Party need to simplify their message to just ‘Yes to Europe, Yes to a referendum’. (this is one yes less than their current messaging). Why?
Well, for the first time in a long-time it looks like those who want to stay in the EU roughly match those who want to leave. The only difference is electorally if you pitch for the broadly pro-EU voters you only have the Lib Dems to compete against (opposed to the much better branded ‘No’ to EU UKIP).
There is a reason why the Lib Dems are branding themselves as the party of IN and that is because there are a lot of uncontested voters who strongly want the UK to stay part of the EU.
Of course none of this replaces the basics in campaigning, the building up local parties, delivering leaflets etc etc. All it does is offer a few tips for what direction The Green Party need to be moving in.
To celebrate 8 years, twitter has released this cool little website, www.first-tweets.com. The website allows you to look up the very first tweet from any twitter account.
One wonders why it has taken 8 years for this be released.
Anyway, I thought I would take a look back The Green Party and their elected official’s first tweets:
The official Green Party account was the first to join on the 22nd July 2008 with this touch of inspirational political rhetoric:
Soon after, the leader of Brighton and Hove Council, Jason Kitcat, joined on the 4th August 2008:
Hot on his heels, the now elected leader of The Green Party, Natalie Bennett, joined on the 4th October 2008 with this bit of inner reflection:
Next up comes London Assembly Member (AM), Darren Johnson who joined at 7:45 am on the 30th September 2009. Darren’s first tweet just oozes with enthusiasm:
Just 5 minutes later, Jenny Jones (aka Baroness Jones of Moulsecoomb) also an AM, joined with a rare example of supporting Boris Johnson:
Caroline Lucas, The Green Party’s only MP and then leader, joined on the 9th November 2009 with this critic of nuclear power…good to see she started as she intended to go on!
The Green Party MEP for South East England, Mr Keith Taylor, joined twitter on the 9th July 2011 highlighting some of the issues he was working on in the EU:
Keith’s partner in crime, Green MEP for London Jean Lambert, then joined twitter on the 30th September 2011 with this ever practical commitment to get out in her constituency:
How things have moved on in just a few years…Caroline Lucas is now one of the most followed MPs on twitter with nearly 75,000 followers.
The Green Party has a really good policy on whether or not we should have a referendum on the UK’s membership of the EU. In short it says ‘Three Yeses’: Yes to a referendum, yes to major EU reform, and yes to staying in a reformed Europe.
This position is progressive, democratic and most importantly in line with a large chunk of public opinion.
Of course, the problem is that nobody knows this.
Try it out now, turn to whoever you’re nearest to and ask, ‘Do you know what the Green’s position on the EU is’?
You can post photos of the blank faces in the comments section below.
Why might this be?
Well, below is a screenshot of Google News with a search set for the last week for the term ‘Green Party EU referendum’. Surprise surprise, not one relevant article appears (click on the image to enlarge).
This at least partly explains why no one knows what The Green Party position is…it just doesn’t feature in the press.
Now, normally at this point in a blog I would start blaming the editors of the mainstream papers for not showing an interest in Green Party policy, but in this case, that just doesn’t explain it.
Over the last week, while Labour have ensured the issue of an EU referendum has been on every editors thoughts, The Green Party has stayed silent.
No press release, no social media campaign, no slogans. I have watched on as my disproportionately Green twitter feed has ticked over without a single mention of The Green Party’s ‘3 yeses’ policy.
While Labour are saying no to an EU referendum (unless the UK was being asked to transfer more powers to Brussels), The Green Party are offering a progressive, democratic and internationalist alternative. Something that is so clearly missing from the UKIP driven EU debate.
I simply don’t understand why every Green is not shouting about this from the rooftops.
With just over 2 months though until the European elections I am not sure how many more media opportunities The Green Party can afford to miss like this. They need just a 1.6% swing in the vote to triple their number of MEPs but to get that, people need to know what they stand for.
- Read the BBC summary of what Miliband and Labour are offering here.
- Read The Green Party ‘3 yeses’ policy launch here.
- Read the full Green Party policy on the EU here.
Keith Taylor MEP for South East England has just released this press release: Green MEP calls on pro-EU politicians to have the ‘guts’ to promise a referendum.
Good on him! Let’s hope the press are listening!
The Green Party leader was this morning on BBC Radio 4’s ‘Today Programme’.
The BBC radio schedule previewed her appearance with this description:
Curious then that after the brief introduction, this issue seemed to slip from the whole interview. Instead the presenter, John Humphrys, decided to focus in on the pressing question of whether voters misunderstand ‘The Green Party’ to be purely interested in environmental issues.
Despite Natalie Bennett, The Green Party leader’s, best efforts to drag the interview back on course Humphry’s seemed obsessed with coming back to the issue of re-branding the party.
What this had to do with whether or not The Green Party should be included in the televised leaders debate remains unclear.
In short, the interview was in my opinion utter baloney.
Imagine, if the Labour leader, Ed Miliband, went onto the Today programme on the same pretext, and the interviewer chose to quite bizarly just focus on in on whether or not the word ‘Labour’ really reflects the party’s policies?
It would never happen.
Why? Because John Humphry, and institutionally the BBC, even if they do not agree with Labour’s policies take the party seriously.
The same cannot be said to be true about The Green Party.
Now…ask yourself a further question: Why do people not vote for The Green Party even if they support most of their policies?
Two answers jump to mind. The first is the electoral system (for the General Election) – people worry about voting Green being a ‘wasted vote’. I can’t blame the BBC for that.
The second reason though is that The Green Party is often just not taken seriously. They are perceived to be political lightweights. Ask yourself where this perception comes from and invariably we come full circle. The answer, at least in part, is found in the inaccurate and derogatory political representation they suffer in the media.
While this is frustrating in partisan newspapers, it is simply unacceptable in the nonpartisan BBC.
The reality of this media environment means that The Green Party struggle for serious representation with any outlet other than a handful of sympathetic Guardian Journalists.
I don’t expect the BBC to give The Green Party an easy ride, but I do expect a degree of respect. This morning the Today programme failed to deliver this.
Interesting from the reaction on twitter I am not the only person to feel like this:
After writing a tactical analysis of the North West looking at the upcoming European elections (The BNP and the tactical battle for the North West) a number of readers have asked what I think might happen in their region. The most popular request came from readers from the East of England. So here it is, a tactical breakdown of the East of England ahead of May’s European elections.
What can I say, I aim to please!
In 2009 the fine people in the East of England elected 3 Conservative MEPs, 2 UKIP, 1 Lib Dem and one 1 Labour. As with many regions across the UK, The Green Party missed out by just a handful of votes.
Looking ahead to the May 2014 elections, I think it is safe to allocate 5 of the 7 seats. The battle is going to be for the remaining 2.
Although I expect the Tories to drop votes (around a 5% drop) I cannot see them securing less than 2 seats. Equally, I cannot see UKIP’s vote share getting smaller and so I am sure they will return at least 2 MEPs.The same logic is applied to Labour who will return 1 MEP.
The big question for the East then is which party will pick up these remaining two seats?
I am relatively confident that The Green Party will pick up 1 of the remaining 2 seats. Why am I so confident?
Well, Labour (who are expected to do well in the backlash to the coalition) would need to double the Green vote to secure a second seat. In 2009 they picked up 167,000 votes while The Green Party picked up 141,000. Assuming Greens have a bad day (it is assumed by most they will marginally increase their vote) and don’t secure a single additional voter, Labour would need to pick up an additional 113,000 votes to gain that extra seat before The Green Party.
The same logic can be applied to both UKIP and Conservatives – will they secure 3 times the vote count of The Green Party to pick up an additional seat? It seems hard to imagine.
A vote for either Labour or UKIP then is likely to be a wasted vote leaving them stranded well short of the benchmark needed to secure an additional seat.
Assuming The Greens vote holds or grows marginally then, it seems likely they will pick up their first MEP for the region (this would be Rupert Read who tops their list of candidates).
But what about the final seat?
The final seat is much harder to call. It essentially depends which of the coalition partners loses the most votes? On election night the figure to look out for in the East is whether or not the Conservatives triple the Lib Dem count. This may well dictate where the final seat goes.
- Labour – hold very little chance of gaining a seat in the East, but equally their 1 seat looks pretty safe (which I am pleased about as Richard Howitt is in general a good egg).
- Conservatives – are expected to lose some votes. I personally can’t see them losing more than one seat but some commentators are talking about them dropping to one (with the majority of votes flooding to UKIP).
- UKIP – are, like with most regions, set for a good night in the East but my money is on them missing out on a third seat by some way.
- The Green Party – have a very good chance of picking up their first seat in the East. It would take a very small increase in vote share, or a small decrease in Conservative vote share, to finish 4th and secure their first MEP for the region.
- Lib Dems – as with many regions are going to be fighting tooth and nail to save their one MEP. The sink or swim question though might be not how good Lib Dems are at bailing water from their boats, but how big their holes are compared to the Tories sinking ship!
My advice then is as follows:
- If you’re considering a Labour vote – lend your vote to The Green Party instead.
- If you’re a traditional Tory voter – vote Blue to limit the damage.
- If you’re a traditional Lib Dems voter – vote Yellow and consider a prayer.
- If you’re a traditional UKIP voter – vote for other parties on their policies that matter to you. Want a referendum? Vote Green. Want to chuck immigrants out, vote Tory etc etc…
- If you’re traditional Green voter – vote Green to make sure you don’t just miss out like 2009.
The 2009 results can be seen here.
With the release of a government commission short-list of possible further airport expansions, rumours of a Conservative defection to The Green Party have started circulating. Hynd’s Blog takes a look at the possibility of The Green Party attracting millionaire Conservative MP, Zac Goldsmith.
Conservative MP Zac Goldsmith has responded angrily to the prospect of Heathrow being expanded saying that Cameron will “never be forgiven” if he u-turns on Heathrow expansion.
A government-appointed independent commission, led by Sir Howard Davies has today issued a shortlist of three options for building new runways – 2 of which are based on expanding Heathrow.
Goldsmith stated on BBC’s Newsnight: “If the Government changes its position on Heathrow expansion I will trigger a by-election, and if it happens in the manifesto of the next election then I certainly wouldn’t stand as a Conservative.”
Goldsmith went on record criticising all three party leaders saying, “This is about enabling all three party leaders to defer any kind of decision making till after the election because none of them frankly have the courage to front up the voters before the next election, when it really matters”. The Green Party’s lead candidate in the South West for the European elections, Molly Cato-Scott, cheekily responded tweeting:
Although this might seem like a long-shot, Goldsmith does have a long established relationship with the party. His uncle Edward (Teddy) Goldsmith was a founding member of The Green Party and the founding Editor of the Ecologist Magazine – a role Zac would go on to take up himself.
It is equally well known that Goldsmith has a close working relationship with Green MP Caroline Lucas in parliament. This stretches beyond traditional ‘(G)green’ issues to issues such as drug policy reform.
And what does Goldsmith think of The Green Party? Well, just last week he tweeted saying:
In short, it’s not as impossible as some might think for this Conservative millionaire to join a radical left-wing party…but let’s be honest, neither is it very likely.