This should be old news by now.

Once more, the excellent folk at ‘Vote For Polices’ have produced a survey encouraging people to do a blind comparison of their beliefs with the policies of the six biggest UK-wide political parties – Labour, Tories, Lib Dems, UKIP, BNP and Greens. And once more, of the 312,000 odd people who have taken the test, the Green Party policies are the most popular.

 

I say this should be old news because every time I can remember in recent years that a similar survey has been done, Greens have come out on top.

Now, of course, this isn’t a scientific sample – it’s designed to help individuals understand which party agrees with them most, not to poll thousands of people. Presumably a particular demographic is more likely than others to fill out the survey, etc.

However, that doesn’t mean the data isn’t significant. The very least it tells us is that among the people who took the test – nearly a third of a million British people – Greens are the most popular. And even if this is demographically skewed, it shows what nonsense it is that Green policies are unpopular.

And this is important. Because all too often, I meet Green party members and activists who have spent so long losing that they don’t believe victory is possible. And the result, for all too many people, is to believe that people are just too right wing, that there is no way we can ever get their support.

And in fact, this is nonsense. Our policies are, in general, pretty popular. And some of the areas of policy which are particularly popular in this survey may be surprising.

When broken down by policy area, we find that, amongst this group, our crime policies are the most popular of all of the parties, and so are our education policies (as well as our environment policies). On the economy and democracy, we’re second to the Lib Dems, and on welfare and healthcare, we’re second to Labour.

Now, I don’t want to overstate this – this is just one online test. I’m sure any of us could pick up flaws in the ways the questions are asked, inaccurate representations of the policies of a particular party, etc. But for me, it reflects a broader point.

Green Party members believe, presumably, that our policies would significantly improve the lives of the vast majority of voters in the country. I certainly do. It turns out that lots and lots of people agree with us. And if this is the case, we must surely be able to persuade them of it.

Now the fact that our policies are most popular doesn’t mean we are most popular: clearly, we aren’t – if we were, we’d be in government. People often vote for parties they don’t agree with as much because of habit, or in order to keep another party out, or whatever. But whilst those things are a barrier, it’s important to remember that the other parties also have a big barrier – their policies aren’t very popular.

And whether you’re a Green or not, there’s an important point here for everyone on the left. We are forever being told that our views are unpopular, rare, bizarre, quirky, or dangerous. But the truth is that left wing policies are about making people’s lives better. If we can persuade people of that, we have a great chance of winning.

Across much of England on the second of May, people will be voting in County Council elections. Green party members all over the UK are standing and campaigning in day in, day out. And for me, I hope this survey comes as a reminder to party members: of course we can win.

Adam Ramsay

About Adam Ramsay

Adam is Co-Editor of Open Democracy UK and a green activist based in Edinburgh. He co-founded Bright Green in 2010.