Saturday, 14 February 2015

From the Green Surge to the Green Challenge

Vote for Policies - when people take a "blind" test on the policies they favour, they choose the Green Party
Over the last few months, initially quietly but surely picking up pace, the Green party saw its poll ratings for the 2015 General Election rising.

Back in the midst of the European election campaign, where the Greens were polling well for the P.R. elections, their UK election ratings were still stuck around 2%, with the odd jump up to 4% or 5% seen as a bit of an aberration. But one sticks out in my mind - on 14 May, Ipsos Mori reported a Green vote of 9% for the Euros AND 8% for Westminster.

It was such a leap, such an apparent "outlier", that few believed it, and some other polls just after took us back down to 3% or so. But, in the weeks after a creditable if disappointing Euro-result, Green membership rose steadily and by August was nudging up to 20,000 from 12,000 or so a year before. Then, after the Scottish referendum, with politically empowered Scots leading the way with joining up to anti-establishment parties, further south the Greens began to see not a flow but a surge of new members seeking to join a radical left of centre option as opposed to the rightwing UKIP. And when both the broadcasters and the established parties initially refused to include the Greens in the leadership debates for the 2015 General Election two things happened - party membership rocketed, at one point with one person joining every 14 seconds and the membership site repeatedly crashing from over-subscription. By early February, there were 52,000 members of the Greens in England & Wales, with a further 8,000 in Scotland and several hundred in Northern Ireland. With a combined UK total in excess of 60,000, Greens far outnumber now the 42,000 UKIP-ers and 44,000 official Lib Dem members.

The second thing that happened was a steady rise in the polls so that by the end of the year the Green Party reached 11% in one and is now regularly polling ahead of the Lib Dems. The UK polling report average poll of polls now stands at 7% for the Greens compared to 2% a year ago. 

And this last week, we saw yet another breakthrough - tentative, a figure within a figure, but perhaps like that poll of 14 May last year a sign of the times to come.

Ipsos Mori published a poll on 10 February with a headline figure of 7% for the Greens, who were in fourth place ahead of the Lib Dems with UKIP on 9%. But that was a figure for those absolutely certain to vote. Among those in the slightly less emphatic category of intending to vote, it was a different story: the Greens were on 9%, in third place nationally. UKIP had 8% and the Lib Dems 7%.

Not a massive lead, and within any margin of error. Yet ten months back, with UKIP polling at 27% in the Euros and the Greens still viewed as a minor party for Westminster elections, who could have imagined that it might even be possible?

As the voteforpolicies website shows, when people vote for policies blind to which party they are from, the largest number choose the policies of the Green Party. And in spite of the rubbish thrown at us in recent weeks by the rightwing commentariat and the Labour Party Anti-Green Party Unit, our ratings have consolidated and continued to grow. People want change - but not the fear-driven change promoted by UKIP and the Tories, or the continuing austerity endorsed by Labour and the Lib Dems. They want a fairer society, one where people look after each other, accept and enjoy difference rather than fear it, and where we work with nature rather than constantly damage and destroy it.

That is the task for the Greens now: to turn the Green Surge into the full-on Green Challenge - the challenge to the politics of despair; the challenge to the politics of vested interests; the challenge to show that another world is possible. And so possible too is a very different election result.
Poll Position - Greens move into third place?

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