With the Lib Dems in Coalition with the Tories, the Green has policies to please those who feel abandoned by other left-of-centre parties.
Following Caroline Lucas’s historic victory in Brighton Pavilion at the last election, there was an understandable air of celebration surrounding last weekend’s Green Party conference. The general election saw an end to three decades without a political presence in Westminster, which made for a good amount of collective back-patting.
Lucas herself appeared keen not to dwell on her victory for too long, instead making a point of extending a welcoming hand to all those Labour voters who might feel disillusioned by their Party’s place in the current political scene:
“There are Labour members who’ve finally realized that, even with the passing of Brown and Blair, they are still stuck in the New Labour nightmare. Many Labour supporters know that the Party will never again truly represent them, for all those… who still believe it’s imporant to defend the vulnerable, to stand up to big business and vested interests… the Green Party is your natural home.”
She had a similar message for Lib Dem voters, welcoming to the Green Party all those who felt “anguish and betrayal” at Clegg’s decision to turn his supposedly equality-orientated party into “an apologist for the most brutal, savage cuts in a generation.”
Could Caroline Lucas be right? Time will tell, but the Party certainly has policies to please those who feel abandoned by other left-of-centre parties. The Greens’ policy on banking reform, for example, could find approval with those put off by the larger parties’ ‘soft’ approach towards financial institutions which precipitated the worst collapse since the Great Depression, were then rescued by public funds, and now prosper again, virtually unreformed.
Similarly, the Party’s opposition to the use of terrorism law may appeal to many liberal-minded voters. Lucas said:
“The Government has used [terrorist] attacks to introduce ever more draconian measures that undermine all our civil liberties.”
Policies on a ‘living minimum wage’, promoting workplace democracy and improving gender equality in the professional sphere represent real progressive politics, and – if nothing else – the Party is undoubtedly the natural home for those voters who want to see concrete action on climate change. Labour’s poor environmental record and the Coalition’s almost complete disregard for even the most basic green initiatives are more reasons why the Greens stand in a well-placed position. Indeed, Lucas’ party is now the only one that reflects public opinion in opposing the renewal of the costly Trident nuclear program.
The Green Party certainly has a long way to go before it is a real force in Westminster, but in these confused political times of LibCon coalitions and backpedalling Blairites, they are better positioned than ever to forge a real campaign to reignite the lost British left.Like this article? Sign up to Left Foot Forward's weekday email for the latest progressive news and comment - and support campaigning journalism by making a donation today.