Greens: It’s time to hunker down
This week, the Green parties of the UK will likely pass 70,000 members. That’s no mean feat. But it will mean little if those people don’t kick into gear and focus their efforts over the next few weeks.
Specifically, Greens have to achieve four things, in the following order.
First, and most importantly, Caroline Lucas must be re-elected. If she isn’t, it’ll be a disaster for the party, setting it back a decade at least. Labour know that. They are throwing everything they can at the seat. They hate nothing more than the danger of a good example. On a universal swing alone, Caroline will lose the seat: Greens are up by around 4% since 2010, but Labour are up by about 6%. Add to that the difficulties faced by the local council, and there is a genuine risk of her losing the seat.
If I’m honest, I think she will win, but I only think that because I trust that huge numbers of Greens will swamp the seat in the few weeks remaining. I was there over Easter weekend. I found lots of Labour/Green switherers I was able to convince. What scares me is the number who were out, who need someone else to go to their door next weekend.
Second, Caroline must win by a stonking great margin. If she only wins narrowly, then we will all have to spend 2020 travelling to Brighton again, a decade after we first won there, working hard to ensure we hold the seat again. If she gets a majority of more than 10%, then every other party will give up on the seat. And that will mean that we can focus energy on new ventures.
Third, we have a chance in Bristol West if we set our minds and our time to it. Getting a second MP this time around would deliver huge momentum for the party and, I suspect, put us on a level pegging with UKIP (I doubt they’ll win more than two). This will require a huge mobilisation of the party – from pretty much everyone for whom it’s quicker to get to Bristol than Brighton.
Fourth, we need to come second in as many as possible of our other target seats. If we do, we have a good chance of taking them next time. We have a good chance of breaking out of he margin and becoming a significant force in British politics. If we don’t, it’ll be ten years at least before we can expect to expand significantly. And none of the crises our society faces can wait that long for a much more powerful Green voice to be heard.
There is a time to be over excited and a time to hunker down; a time to spread your energies and a time to focus. First Past the Post is an unjust system. Despite this, Greens can win seats in it: but only if we hunker down, only if we focus. We could between us pour thousands of person hours into seats where we have no chance of getting more than 5% in the hope of saving a deposit. But having Caroline Lucas in parliament is worth every deposit in the country. Putting us in a position to win a target seat in 2020 is worth thousands of votes spread across seats we can’t win for a generation.
We all like to dream. Now is not the time for dreaming. Now is the time for hard-nosed electioneering. In a month, we could have lost our only MP. Or we could have doubled our representation in parliament and lined ourselves up for a massive expansion in 2020. Which of those it is won’t depend upon the press office or the online team. It’ll be a result of leaflets delivered, doors knocked, and data entered in key target seats. That’s something which only we, the broader membership, can deliver.