Vote 2011: Green campaign diary

Green Party councillor Rupert Read kicks off Left Foot Forward's dispatches from the front: the campaign diaries of party activists on the election trail.

With elections and a referendum throughout the UK today, Left Foot Forward brings you dispatches from the frontline of politics, with party activists reporting  from the campaign trail. Norwich Green Party Councillor Rupert Read starts the series with his campaign diary:

It’s been an unusual election campaign, featuring only the second-ever national referendum.

The referendum has offered strong opportunities to Greens, and our leader Caroline Lucas, to make clear our credentials as a pluralist party that is serious about democratic reform and renewal. The Green Party has been virtually 100 per cent behind the Yes2AV campaign. In recent days we’ve seen the extraordinary Huhne-Lucas-Denham Observer story.

A Yes vote today will make the possibility of a rainbow ‘progressive alliance’ for 2015 more feasible. And that is still Ed Miliband’s most plausible route to power.

The No2AV campaign had far more money though they have obscured this fact by refusing to disclose their big early donations. Also the right-wing-media campaign against AV has been savage. However the official Yes campaign will only have itself to blame if it loses. It has failed to engage in this referendum debate with passion and verve and treated the whole thing too much as an exercise in policy-wonkery, and departed from that only via vapid celebrity endorsements.

That having been said a pleasure of the campaign has been the upsurge in creativity on the Yes side. If you haven’t yet watched and shared this viral sensation, ‘the reform cat’, now is the time.

In the local and devolved elections, on the ground, it seems that people have short memories. Too many have forgotten the failings of the last government. There will undoubtedly be a strong Labour vote on Thursday as some voters still think that they can most clearly express discontent with government policy by voting Labour.

But for those voters who are interested in expressing disapproval of the government at the same time as putting forward a genuine, positive, radical alternative, the Green Party will be an attractive option.

Look out for possible Green gains therefore especially in some Liberal Democrat- and Tory- held areas where Greens have not made notable council breakthroughs before. For example, in my own region, the East of England, places to watch to see how the Greens are doing against the coalition include St. Alban’s, Witham/Braintree, King’s Lynn, and swathes of rural Suffolk, as well as relevant wards in my own Norwich.

But probably the most important elections on Thursday night from the Green Party point of view are those in Wales and Scotland, where the Lib Dem vote is going through the floor and the ‘2nd vote Green’ message seems to be winning considerable support, judging by the opinion polls.

If we gain our first seat in the Welsh Assembly, which seems entirely on the cards, or if we increase our number of MSPs in Scotland, which is also very possible – though in both cases the numbers are on a knife-edge – then Thursday will have been a good night for us. If we manage, as might just happen, to achieve the incredible feat of overtaking the Lib Dems, a governing Party, in Scotland, then the Green Party will credibly be able to say that our long-term aim of overtaking the LibDems and becoming the third party of British politics, is starting to come into view.

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