What next for the Green Party? Having made its historic breakthrough by electing Caroline Lucas in Brighton Pavilion as its first Westminster MP, it needs to decide where it is now heading.
In Caroline Lucas the Greens have a photogenic, telegenic superstar, highly, highly competent with a single-minded determination to succeed. She has taken the first steps to make her party electable. Gone are their Principle Speakers, in is a single Leader (her). Environmental issues are treated as equally important and intrinsically linked with the economy and social justice.
But is the Green Party a one woman show? At the moment, yes, and Caroline and her immediate team must enjoy every moment of this amazing victory. But the Green Party needs to ensure that it has more, many more, equally impressive individuals. Sadly, some of the Green candidates left a bit to be desired, and the Party did not make the hoped for breakthrough in Lewisham or Norwich. And there are some policies that some activists hold on to as if they were in possession of the Holy Grail. For example, the issue of drugs, and decriminalisation in particular, threatened to upset Caroline’s campaign over the last weekend. The Greens great strength, of not whipping its councillors, could prove to be its undoing.
Locally, the Greens have an immediate opportunity to build on this success. Just as the election of Alex Phillips last year provided momentum for the campaign in Brighton Pavilion, so too could Caroline’s election be the springboard for the Greens targeting Brighton and Hove City Council in next year’s elections.
What do they have to do? Recruit, recruit, recruit. Do so on the back of Caroline’s election. Don’t be passive, get out there. Get 200 activists out in each of the next four weeks. Visit every home in Brighton Pavilion and in target wards in Brighton Kemptown and Hove. I would expect a ‘thank you’ leaflet or letter from Caroline through my door within the week. Get a street contact in every street in each target ward. Make sure that the Party’s 13 councillors are seen from now until May 5th 2011 out and about. Some are incredibly hard working, but some don’t inspire too much confidence. The campaign for the City Council starts now.
With Caroline Lucas in Parliament, and a Green-controlled Brighton and Hove City Council, that would make very interesting politics.
I write this as a non-Green Party member, historically a Labour supporter, but one who didn’t like New Labour, mistrusts Mandelson, opposes Trident, wishes to see an alternative to cuts, cuts, cuts. I am someone who is looking to be inspired. Caroline Lucas did it. But can her party follow where she has led?
Filed under: General Election 2010, Politics Tagged: | Alex Phillips, Brighton and Hove City Council, Brighton Pavilion, Caroline Lucas, decriminalisation, drugs, Green Party, Lewisham, Norwich, Peter Mandelson