The Green party has now achieved its highest 20 year rating in a Guardian/ICM poll. They stand at 9%, only two percentage points behind both UKIP and the Liberal Democrats. Combined with its huge boom in membership, currently over 44 thousand, it actually means they currently have more members than UKIP and the Liberal Democrats. Make no doubt of it; the Greens are surging in popularity.
An emphasis on dismantling ‘big government’ and focusing on increasing localisation and representation will and does resonate with the wider public
It begs us to question as to why Ofcom had previously decided to refuse the Greens to partake in the general election debates*. The idea that it is merely a protest vote, for disgruntled voters wishing to taint the established parties of Labour and Conservative, is debunked by the fact that it outpolled the Liberal Democrats 3 to 1 in the recent European Union elections. Despite the fact that admittedly, UKIP has one more member of parliament, Caroline Lucas, Green MP of Brighton Pavilion, was elected in 2010 before the media frenzy allowed UKIP to attract Tory defectors.
For those who attack the Greens for merely being ‘tree huggers’ and ‘sandal socialists’, it would do them good to actually look at the detailed policies of the Greens. An emphasis on dismantling ‘big government’ and focusing on increasing localisation and representation will and does resonate with the wider public. Ideas on fairer global trade, placing more stress upon environmental and social welfare, and fading away international debt; show a party that can and will command the respect of many.
Many students are experiencing political disengagement, which should be the very opposite in the year of the general election
It is therefore hugely unfair then that Cameron has argued against taking part in the leader’s debates due to the lack of Green involvement. It seems likely that Cameron does not want to risk losing feet in the run up to the general election; despite his ardent support for these debates in 2010. Lucas and Bennett’s new poster campaign of ‘What are you afraid of, boys?’ strikes deeply at the lack of will and bravery for greater debate at the heart of Westminster.
Ed Miliband is running scared too. The fear of the left vote splintering, and allowing the Conservatives to win thus, has left some left wingers squealing. Miliband’s refusal to engage with the Greens in core issues, and essentially stealing the Greens idea of a ‘living wage’, shows a party that cannot exhume the ghost of its left wing background.
Many students are experiencing political disengagement, which should be the very opposite in the year of the general election. Consequently, it should be of no surprise as to why many students are flocking to the greens; an increase of 165% in membership for Young Greens across the country (The Guardian, November 2014) proves that students are increasingly attracted to the prospect of change: a Green future.
Will the Greens play an important role in the general election? Certainly. It is by time now that the political establishment recognises the force and need of actual left wing debate in this country, to provide imagination, passion and creativity for our politics.
* At the time of writing, it has been reported that broadcasters are proposing a new series of TV election debates; with both BBC and ITV to host seven way debates, including the Greens, UKIP, SNP and Plaid Cymru.
Image courtesy of Rupert Read via Flickr