The Greens: A New Threat for the Lib-Dems?

vote-green-22nd-May

Les Verts britanniques font assez peu parler d’eux hors du Royaume-Uni. Pourtant le parti semble s’imposer peu à peu dans la vie politique, notamment dans le cadre des élections pour le Parlement européen, où l’on estime qu’il devrait même battre le parti des libéraux-démocrates. Quel est ce parti encore méconnu dans le reste de l’Europe ?

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There used to be a UK Green Party but it split in 1990: that’s when the GPEW, the Green Party of England and Wales, was created. It keeps friendly relationships with its Scottish and Irish counterparts. So the GPEW is a sort of federal party which gathers most of the Green Parties in England and Wales, including the semi-autonomous Wales Green Party. It has no leader but two spokes persons: a man and a woman, in order to respect gender parity. Today Caroline Lucas and Keith Tailor are the GPEW spokespersons. In 2005, even if they did not succeed in gaining any seat in the Commons – they one 1% of the votes at the general election – Keith Tailor got 22% of the votes in the Brighton constituency. It has only one member of Parliament, Caroline Lucas (since 2010). The first-past-the-post system makes it very difficult for them to win more seats at the UK Parliament (it’s a miracle they have one!), just as it does for UKIP.

But now they are gaining momentum: like UKIP (but so unlike UKIP!), the GPEW seems to be soaring. Indeed, on May 20th 2014, it hit its highest ratings in opinion polls about the European elections. A YouGov poll for the Sun credits the Green Party with 12%, up 4% since the last poll: they are expected to triple their number of MEPS, from 2 to 6. Of course, this is still far behind UKIP scores, but, however, they are 2% above the Liberal Democrats. It would then be a problem for Nick Clegg whose popularity is plummetting: the number of Lib-Dem MEPs is expected to fall to only 4 seats. Moreover, 57% of the people questioned said Nick Clegg should resign if his party is beaten by the Greens  in the  European elections, which is now very likely to happen. Nevertheless, their impressive rise in the polls is barely covered by the media, which rather focuses on the rogues, such as UKIP. Besides, the Greens are still put together with the BNP or the Christian People’s Alliance in the “other” category. This lack of media coverage hides their progress.

What about the Greens’ program?

At the beginning, the Greens came with warnings about climate change. In the 1990s, it was not a priority. But this concern is now widespread. Like solar and wind power, community energy projects are on the rise, and the party seems to understand the new issues of the world and capable of challenging the issues.

Voters are also interested in the GPEW’s economic propositions – taxing the richer and increasing public spendings. They support cancelling tuition fees for students and NHS prescription charges, putting an end to the privatisation of public services, to offer more access to housing and public services, even for migrants. The Greens criticize the current debate on immigration aroused by UKIP, which is seen as « a race to the bottom »  between the mainstream parties. They support the idea of a referendum about the EU-membership, a democratic way to hear the people’s voice, but they definitely want the country to remain in the EU, which is regarded as a suitable means to tackle environmental, economic or political issues with other countries. Thus, the GPEW is a party which wants to be fully involved in the European policy to be more efficient, in order to make life more sustainable.

Claire ALVES, Léna BERAUD-PEIGNE & Emeline CARPENTIER

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One thought on “The Greens: A New Threat for the Lib-Dems?

  1. Pingback: Endangered Species in the UK | Frogs Save The Queen

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