Are the Greens setting any political agenda?
Are they ignoring the Green Brexit supporters?
The Green Party finished its Spring Conference on Monday after four days of debate and other activities at the Yorkshire seaside resort of Scarborough. The mixed weather could describe the situation in the Green Party today. The election results they achieved in both the Local and EU elections shone out brightly as a major step forward.
In the UK EU elections, the party increased its share of the vote to 11.8%, with over 1,881,000 votes, obtaining 7 seats, (plus four on previously). This performance beat the Conservatives, who obtained only 1,500,000 votes and 4 MEPs.
In the Local Council elections, the Greens achieved the election of another 194 Councillors with a much improved 9.2 percent share of the vote. Indeed, the party leadership maintains that all their hard work over the past stormy years is now bearing fruit. They feel they are setting the political agenda, with other parties taking on green policies.
The morale of the members and supporters is high, and there is the aspiration to achieve more. The party decision makers feel that they were right to not enter into any form of an electoral pact with the Libdems, Labour or Change UK, in respect of any of the recent elections, who they believe offer very different policies.
However, Green Party performance at UK Parliamentary elections is still poor. The Green party only achieved 1.6% at the General Election, with just over 500,000 votes, so there is a steep climb to improve on that. They had an improved performance in the Peterborough by-election, but with only 3.05%, they have a long way to get another MP elected.
Even Amelia Womack, the party’s Deputy, who presents herself well in the political forum, only achieved 3.9% in the other recent by-election, Newport West.
In a sense, the Green Party is at a stormy crossroads. They seem to be convinced that being so adamantly in opposition to Brexit is helping them electorally.
What if they are wrong? – That if they were pro or neutral on Brexit, would they perform better?
Green Party’s only Member of the House of Lords supported the Leave.EU campaign. Indeed, in the 2016 UK EU Referendum, The Green Party’s only Member of the House of Lords, Baroness (Jenny) Jones, campaigned for Brexit. She argued that the EU was incompatible with Green principles.
It seems that for the moment Greens who support leaving the EU have been kept under the limelight. But for how long? It may be that this lack of open debate on the subject is not best serving the Green cause.
After all, according to a poll conducted in 2016, 25% of Green supporters voted to Leave the EU.
Is the Green Party policy on opposing Brexit keeping away new Green voters? Could another party capitalise on this by adopting more Green policies?
The Green Party has also decided to try and out- socialist the Labour party and to be the most gender orientation friendly party and the most positive discrimination party in respect of women and a full range of minorities. This could cost them votes.
The Greens, like any other party with the MEP proportional election system, can manipulate their party lists in each region to suit their own purposes. Magid Magid, a Muslim Somali refugee, former Deputy Mayor of Sheffield, was put first on the Yorkshire and Humber region Green list, and then great play was made of the fact that he was elected.
The fact that candidates are voted in on a party-political platform and not individually as such was not mentioned. The Green Party did have some quality on their candidates list, but did the decision on ranking in the lists have more to do with political correctness rather than political abilities? In Magid Magid’s case, only the selectors will know.
Perhaps what the Greens should be focussing on is electoral reform in respect of the MEP elections? If voters had been given one vote for each MEP vacancy to be filled, then it is likely that the Green Party would have obtained more MEP’s. This would have benefited other parties such as UKIP.
The Green Party do not seem to have planned for a post-Brexit Britain, and they urgently need to have a set of policies ready for this scenario. The Conference seemed to lack a genuinely Green message because it got bogged down in other issues.
The Greens have an excellent leadership team. The Co-Leaders Sian Berry and Jonathan Bartley are a superb duo. They become a trio with Amelia Wormack, Deputy Leader. The Greens made a great decision when they elected these very presentable individuals. The advantage is that they do not have leadership vacuums.
There is a need for vision for the future of the Green Party. Perhaps this should include tackling the separatism of the Welsh nationalists?
They seem more than happy to tackle UKIP, which it so happens, have three very similar Green policies to them. The Green Party are in danger of driving some of their more mainstream supporters away.
By all means, Greens should continue to oppose austerity, but what has increased immigration into the over-populated United Kingdom got to do with any green principles?
And what about direct action policies? These are not always popular with the general public, so these tactics should maybe only be taken up after much consideration first.
The Green Party Conference had many positives, and having been to a few, it was noticeable that more attention seems to have been paid to the important social and other activities laid on. It also is concerning when some policy decisions are being made by a minority of those at the conference, with most others preferring to be at other meetings or simply having a coffee break.
The message for the Green Party members is to be proud of what they have achieved, but not be too complacent. The gains made are at risk of being reversed if there is not a return to a focus on a Green agenda.