The Green Party is focusing its attention on three constituencies where it has a reasonable chance of electing a Green MP in this year’s general election: Lewisham Deptford, Norwich South and Brighton Pavilion. Britain is the only sizeable European country never to have had any Green national legislative presence.
Brighton Pavilion represents the Greens’ best chance at achieving this milestone. With nine councillors, the Greens have more representation than the other parties in local government. Former Green candidate in Brighton Pavilion Keith Taylor did much to shift this constituency towards the Greens. He earned 9.3% of the votes in 2001 and 21.9% of the votes in 2005, finishing less than 1,000 votes behind second place.
In a December 2009 ICM poll in the constituency, 26% of respondents said they would vote Green if the election were held the following day; 18% went for Labour and 19% for the Conservatives. Current Green candidate and MEP Caroline Lucas is now in a strong position to take the seat thanks to this swing and her experience and abilities.
The Green agenda
After Lucas was named party leader in 2008, she is widely credited with uniting the party and strengthening its base nationwide. Darren Johnson, Green candidate for Lewisham Deptford, said: “I think people are starting to see the Green agenda as more relatable.”
He believes the public sees the Green Party as a viable party on a multitude of economic and social issues, instead of solely on environmental issues as people have in the past.
Adrian Ramsay, deputy leader of the Greens, campaigning in Norwich South, attributes the increased support in part to a sense of cynicism towards both major parties. “There’s less of a difference between Labour and Conservatives now,” he claims. “And if people are disillusioned with Labour, then why vote Labour?”
Ramsay is running against current Labour MP Charles Clarke. In the 2009 local elections, the Greens received 4,000 more votes than Labour. Ramsay believes electing a Green would lend a much-needed voice to parliamentary politics. “To elect one more person from another party will hardly be noticed, but electing a Green will mean new ideas,” he said, noting it would finally give Greens a voice in major debates.
To those who doubt that a single Green MP can have an impact, Ramsay points to the Scottish parliament, where the support of the two Green MSPs is often needed on key issues.
Johnson agrees, mentioning that, although the election of a Green MP may not change daily life, it will infuse new voices into British politics.
While things have been promising initially, the Greens will not be backing down with their campaigns. “There’s no such thing as a safe Green seat,” Johnson said.