Will the Greens ever become a national force?

In a comment left yesterday on my blog, Allie Cannell ask if I stand by my blog post of June 13th 2009 “The Greens will never be a national force“.  Three comments from me.  Firstly, are we being a bit sad reading posts that are almost 2 years old? 

Secondly, I stand by the view that the Greens are not likely to become a national force.  Perhaps I should never say never, but it is one thing to have an inspirational candidate elected in an extraordinary election, with an impressive campaign that mobilised activists from across the country, in a constituency that has been nurtured skillfully for several years.  I think that now she has won the seat, Caroline Lucas will build a substantial personal vote and be very difficult to displace.  Hopefully the Greens will make the breakthrough elsewhere, and become a more significant force nationally.  It would be good for the health of British politics.

Thirdly, I was wrong about my criticisms of Caroline Lucas.  To that extent, I don’t stand by the blog of June 13th 2009 and apologise to her for the observations. In that post I wrote “Caroline Lucas is an impressive leader and a very credible candidate. Her honesty and candour contrasts very positively to the well-drilled, spin machine of Labour”.  I stand by that. “Her weakness as a candidate in Brighton Pavilion is her poor record as a local campaigner. When compared to the current MP, David Lepper, who has been a community activist for over 30 years, Lucas comes over as remote and lacking local knowledge. She would struggle to make small talk with fellow passengers on the number 46 bus, if she was ever to catch it”.  I stand by what I said about David Lepper, someone who I like and for whom I have great respect.  But I was wrong about Caroline.  I have seen her at close quarters with ordinary people.  She is warm, charming, and engaging.  I have even seen her on the number 46 bus (for Chuck Vere’s reference, the number 46 goes from Southwick to Hollingbury).

Caroline Lucas is an exceptional politician, one of the most remarkable of this age.  She is also a thoroughly nice person.

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5 Responses

  1. Oh no, i’ve been blown wide open in my geekiness!

    It was a day of wasted procrastination really, avoiding doing work by looking at what happened before i got involved in politics.

    Your views on the Greens do seem to have changed quite a lot from back then. Hopefully its indicative of whats happened in the wider Brighton and Hove population.

  2. Unless the Green Party can find significantly more candidates like Caroline, and more constituencies like Pavilion, they are likely to remain, in Westminster terms, a small minority.

    The coalition they have built around disaffected old Labour socialism, youthful idealism, environmental concern, and social liberalism would not by tenable on a national stage.

    However, they can be a national force in terms of highlighting the environmental agenda, and ensuring the ‘green’ issues are at the forefront of the nation’s thinking. They have already been successful in that – and they will have the most influence by continuing to do that.

    To many they will always remain first and foremost a pressure group- an influential one, but not a national political party.

  3. Does the BPB lack self-esteem if he/she thinks it “sad” that anybody should read BPB stuff from a while back? What’s the point of archiving it otherwise?

    That said, I cannot help but remember the Council meeting at which Geoffrey Theobald quoted at length from an earlier speech he’d made, and Jack Hazlegrove replied that listening to one of Goeffrey’s speeches is bad enough but to do so twice is “a cruel and unnatural punishment”.

    As for the national aspect. Signs are in Australia and Brazil that England could catch up with Germany.

    Meanwhile, more locally, by looking at the figures and talking with people, I think a Green MP in Hove is a tenable notion. I think Hove could rank higher than Lewisham and Norwich.

    • The Greens would probably do better under AV, as it would remove the ‘forced choice’ that effectively exists under FPTP. It would make the ‘wasted vote’ argument completely redundant in every seat, which would be no bad thing.

      So a lot depends on the result of that referendum. The counter-argument is that AV is a wheeze whereby Clegg and his new Tory mates can swap votes and ‘keep out the socialists’.

      What to do?

      • Good point. AV removes that argument and gives people more freedom to vote Green.

        Green voters tend to be well education and stridently anti-Tory. Often they would make a tactical decision about how best to cast their vote against the Tories.

        Hence why we see many more people vote Green in Euro elections in seats and areas where we don’t really feature when it comes to a General one.

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