We tend to look at British politics across a spectrum, just like we always have. There is the radical left, traditional left, center-left, left-leaning, center ground, right-leaning, center-right, traditional right, radical/far right and so on. On top of that, we could use terms such as liberal, liberal conservative, socialist, socialist liberal, nationalist conservative… the labels slapped on political parties often summarise what kind of class votes for them, whether one is an ethnic minority or not, an unemployed person , an activist or any other complicated segment of society. However when we look at one of the so called ‘breakthrough’ parties in British politics such as the Green Party, where do the supporters mainly come from in society?
There is often a stereotype when referring to overtly liberal eco-friendly anti-fracking campaigners. Perhaps we could sum up an image of aging hippies with scraggly long grey hair displaced in late 1960’s counter-culture. Another such cliché would be to place your average rebellious 20-something year old university in a muddy protest camp slamming his mother’s crockery with wooden spoons against George Osborne’s austerity. Forget the old stereotypes, Green politics and ‘eco-socialism’ jumped into the mainstream when the Green Party surprised all by winning Brighton Pavillion in 2010.
A decisive win for Caroline Lucas? Well not quite. She won 16,238 (31.8%) votes, the Labour Party candidate polled 14,986 (28.9%). A majority of 1,252 votes in the Brighton Pavillion is not anything significant to boast amount, but the impact it made on party membership definitely thrusted the Greens closer to Westminster’s bosom.
Much like UKIP, the Green Party membership has doubled since 2012, which contrasts with the dwindling membership numbers of the ‘Main Three’ parties, however the Labour and Conservative party remain significantly larger in comparison. It leads one to wonder whether the Green Party’s left wing eco-socialist agenda is beginning to displace the ‘traditional left’ of the Labour Party, and even more so against the Liberal Democrats in general. This being said, the alarming growth of Green Party membership and the much deserved prominence on the media does not explain why the Greens have not been invited to the televised debates as of yet. The Green Party are not a dangerous party as far as the public is concerned. Many of the ideas Caroline Lucas brought forward are progressive, sustained and logical, yet the Westminster and media establishment do see the Greens as formidable and a growing force in Politics. As we have seen with the #CameronMustGo hashtag which has been trending for longer than expected, will we see a #GreensOnTV hashtag emerging?
The Greens are a breath of fresh air. The negative rhetoric of the larger parties and UKIP are able to pull on the media drawstrings a lot easier than the Green’s rose-tinted agenda. Perhaps that is the reason why the BBC and other media organisations do not want to air the views of the Green Party. The policies of the Green Party under leader Natalie Bennett are not scary, only alternative. They go against some of the traditional ‘stiff upper lip’ views that are prominent in British society, but that could be a good thing.
By Stuart Chapman, Junior Writer for Daily Political View