The Green Party has just had its best ever results in local elections. With all the votes counted, the Greens gained 194 seats across England. In the process, the party doubled its number of councillors and won seats on more than 50 councils for the first time.
In more good news for the Greens, over 500 people joined the party the day after the elections. This confirms what many have been saying for a long time: the Greens are now a truly credible left-wing alternative.
This isn’t the first time significant energy has been behind the Greens. In 2015, over a million people voted for the party in the general election. But punished by the voting system, only one Green MP – Caroline Lucas – entered parliament.
Similarly, the party has performed well in local elections in the past. But it has never before managed to pull off a result like this. Its previous best result was in 2006 when there were 20 Green gains.
The scale of Green seat gains this year is unprecedented. That’s what makes the results important. It shows that the Greens are not only capable of attracting lots of people to vote for them, but also of translating those votes into seats.
The #GreenWave, as people on Twitter have been calling the Green performance, is a coming of age for the party. And it comes at a time when climate change has never been so high up the public agenda – as the school strikes, Extinction Rebellion protests and a growing divestment movement have pushed the issue into the mainstream.
All of this bodes well for the Greens. In three weeks, hotly contested European elections will be a key opportunity for the party to demonstrate the strength of its support.
In the last European elections, the Greens emerged as the fourth largest party – winning three seats in the European parliament. With a strong set of results now behind them, the party could do even better this year.
As Fréa Lockley highlighted in The Canary, the Green Party is offering a left-wing alternative to Brexit. Going into these elections, it is the only party explicitly opposed to Brexit that offers any real political change. The Liberal Democrats and Change UK both represent the status quo. As such, the Greens offer a home to voters on the left who are frustrated by both the government and Labour’s positions on Brexit.
This, along with two other factors means the Greens could win big in the upcoming European elections.
Firstly, the European elections happen under a more proportional system than general and local elections. This means the party doesn’t face the normal barriers to winning seats.
And secondly, the Greens have a very strong pool of candidates lined up. In Yorkshire and the Humber, the renowed former Lord Mayor of Sheffield, Magid Magid, is the party’s lead candidate. Bernie Sanders’ brother, Larry. is also standing for the party in the South East. And the Scottish Greens – a separate political party – have selected their co-convener Maggie Chapman as lead candidate for Scotland. The high profile of the Green candidates across the country will undoubtedly help generate media coverage and boost the party’s vote.
But Green prospects don’t stop at the end of May. In fact, looking ahead to next year, the Greens could be on the cusp of something really big. If the Green momentum holds up, and the party keeps adding hundreds of activists to its ranks, 2020 could see the party take another step forward.
Next year, London will elect a new mayor. Three months ago, I argued that the Green Party candidate – the co-leader of the party Sian Berry – could blow the mayoral election wide open. With the scale of Green victories in the local elections, the Greens now have a real chance of polling very well in that race.
In the last two London mayoral elections, the Greens have come third – in both 2012 and 2016. The heightened profile of Berry, combined with a surging vote share, councillor base, and membership could prove crucial in pushing the Green vote even higher in 2020. It will also be a test of whether the party can capitalise on its current increase in support in London, where no local elections took place this year.
A lot of this is speculation. But one thing is clear – the Greens have now secured a place as a major player in mainstream politics. And the party has done so on an un-apologetically left-wing platform.
Featured image via GPEW – Wikimedia Commons.
We need your help to keep speaking the truth
Every story that you have come to us with; each injustice you have asked us to investigate; every campaign we have fought; each of your unheard voices we amplified; we do this for you. We are making a difference on your behalf.
Our fight is your fight. You’ve supported our collective struggle every time you gave us a like; and every time you shared our work across social media. Now we need you to support us with a monthly donation.
We have published nearly 2,000 articles and over 50 films in 2021. And we want to do this and more in 2022 but we don’t have enough money to go on at this pace. So, if you value our work and want us to continue then please join us and be part of The Canary family.
In return, you get:
* Advert free reading experience
* Quarterly group video call with the Editor-in-Chief
* Behind the scenes monthly e-newsletter
* 20% discount in our shop
Almost all of our spending goes to the people who make The Canary’s content. So your contribution directly supports our writers and enables us to continue to do what we do: speaking truth, powered by you. We have weathered many attempts to shut us down and silence our vital opposition to an increasingly fascist government and right-wing mainstream media.
With your help we can continue:
* Holding political and state power to account
* Advocating for the people the system marginalises
* Being a media outlet that upholds the highest standards
* Campaigning on the issues others won’t
* Putting your lives central to everything we do
We are a drop of truth in an ocean of deceit. But we can’t do this without your support. So please, can you help us continue the fight?