The Labour Party never does itself any favours, does it?
With the government in disarray, Labour had a real chance to put a credible plan forward as an alternative ahead of this May’s local elections. Instead, the party has imploded, and many socialists are now prepared to abandon the party hoping that Keir Starmer resigns as the leader. It is a sorry state of affairs.
And if chatter on social media is anything to go by, many of these people could lend their vote to the Green Party, which currently has just one MP in Westminster. With an increased focus on the climate, including talk of a ‘Green New Deal’ in the United States and the rise of Extinction Rebellion on this side of the pond, you would have expected them to be centre stage.
Perhaps the emphasis on Brexit in the last election and the current pandemic has stifled their momentum until now – but the Greens have a real chance to send shockwaves through the mainstream parties in May.
Labour struggles at the moment, and the Conservatives have made several costly errors during the pandemic, including spending tens of billions of pounds on a failed test and trace system and being accused multiple times of cronyism during the Covid crisis. If some of these decisions in the past year are anything to go by, they may take a pasting at the ballot box in a couple of months now Brexit is ‘done’.
So, it’s up to the Liberal Democrats and the Green Party to break up a tired two-party system that has been at the helm of British politics for decades. Although the Conservatives and Labour’s likes continue to tower over the former two and the other UK parties in parliament, just one individual could turn the tide for an underdog.
One member of the Green Party who has made a real impression on UK voters is Caroline Lucas, who made history in 2010 as their first-ever representative in the House of Commons. Taking Brighton Pavilion from Labour just over a decade ago, Lucas been re-elected thrice and has increased her majority all three times, an accurate indicator of how local residents feel towards her. Whilst I don’t agree with some of the former leader’s views, similarly to Sturgeon, both ooze class. Lucas has always stood by her principles on unilateral nuclear disarmament and other divisive issues, which must be commended.
Not only is she popular with Remainers as an unapologetically pro-EU politician, which could pay dividends at the ballot box for her party, but Brexiteers should also thank Lucas after voting in favour of having an EU referendum. Many Remain politicians have been accused of being out of touch with the British public. This accusation cannot be aimed towards Lucas, who identified why some people no longer felt warmth towards the European Union. She has since called this vote one of her biggest regrets – but I have no problem whatsoever in her reaching for a second referendum because her constituents voted overwhelmingly to remain. Lucas’ first job is to serve her constituents – and she did just that.
Although they did well in the 2019 local elections, the Greens will be looking to gain even more ground on the main parties in this year’s vote. From there, it will be about continuing to increase their support and then converting votes to tangible seats in the 2024 General election. This will be a difficult task with a First Past the Post (FPTP) system that seems to punish the smaller parties – but it’s up to them now to run a positive campaign this year and then provide a realistic programme for government in the long-term.
To do this, they will need to convince the electorate they can be trusted with the public’s money, a problem the Labour Party has had for many years. Just from looking at some of the key points from their 2019 manifesto, this could be a very tricky task.
But the Green Party will always be like marmite. If you like them, you really like them. If you don’t and find some of their policies unrealistic, it’s more than likely you will always dislike them. They are an acquired taste – but could they tap into this niche and send a message to the traditional parties ahead of the next election, especially if Starmer fails to win over his left-wing?
The Greens will certainly be hoping to. Fresh ideas are needed in British politics, even if I disagree with them.