Nigel Farage

The phoney war is over. Voting is about to begin. At time of writing the first postal votes are literally about to hit the first doormats.

Pundits often forget that postal voting starts, in large numbers, this week. Postal voters have been increasing in numbers in recent years; partly because voting by post is a convenient way around the Conservative voter-suppression endeavour, which has sought to suppress the numbers able to vote at polling stations. (You don’t need ID to vote by post.)

At the 2019 general election, over a fifth of voters voted by post. For bear in mind, postal voters are easily the most reliable voters of all. With this being the first general election to be fought under the voter-ID-requiring rules, it is quite possible that a quarter of all votes in the 2024 general election will be cast by next week.

All this is by way of bringing home the point that those fearing that the outgoing Government are somehow going to pull some kind of electoral rabbit out of some hat can start to relax. Once the polls are as stark as they are, when postal voting begins, then it is just too late for Sunak et al to recover.

Now that it is clear therefore that the Tories are toast at this election, and that a Labour landslide is inevitable, the real question is who will be there to chart a path towards the future. For the tussle between Starmer and Sunak is of little salience, looking ahead beyond July 4. Neither has any message of excitement or genuine change to offer. Sunak will soon be gone, and Starmer will soon be embroiled in the bad consequences of his having decided to out-Blair even Blair.

This is the context in which I make the following simple claim: It is vital that Greens get more MPs than Reform on July 4. We Greens (rather than Farage) need visibly to be there for people to turn to, when the new Government lets them down, as their manifesto makes clear they are intending to do.

The real opposition, the real dispute, at and beyond the coming election, is between Green and Reform. We’re both anti-establishment parties, and that is why some voters, perhaps surprisingly, go back and forth between us; but in every other respect, in terms of policies and values, on everything from climate to migration, we tend to be diametrically opposed. This is the context in which it really matters that we win more seats than Reform.

It is also the context in which the latest MRP poll is really quite interesting. This poll predicts 3 seats for Reform – and 3 for the Greens. This contest is real.

The main outcome of the general election being essentially settled, the real ideological dispute is now what matters: The past or the future. Reform or Green.

The Conservatives, after the election, might realise that it is pointless for them to do what they have been doing, chasing Reform’s tail: you can never out-populist Reform. They might pivot back towards ‘the centre-ground’, and become electable again.

Labour, after the election, might realise that Britain is so broken (and the climate and nature crisis so severe, including in terms of actual impacts that this country is receiving) that they have to do as Roosevelt did when he became US President during the ‘Great’ Depression: govern in poetry, after campaigning in prose.

Neither of these outcomes are particularly likely, though either would be very welcome. Barring such outcomes, Labour and Conservative will be increasingly irrelevant to the future direction of this country. For a sub-Reform Conservative Party is headed for oblivion. While a sub-conservative Labour Party is headed for failure, and the possibility of becoming a one-term wonder (sic), despite having on July 5 a large majority. (That, after all, is what has happened to the Conservatives.)

Will it be Reform or the Greens who are better-placed, come 2028/9, to benefit from the enormous, predictable wave of dissatisfaction with a Labour Government that in many respects will enact Conservative-lit policies? An insurgent Party in 2028 might get dozens of MPs, and could even even provide the Prime Minister of a coalition Government, if Labour falters, as I have suggested is likely.

For what is likely is that the rise of the Green Party, like the rise of the Reform UK Party, has only just begun. In the difficult times we are moving into, will citizens lurch to try forlornly to regain a former ‘glory’ (Reform) or will they start to  actually face up to reality (Green)?

The battle to see whether Greens or Reform come out of this election with more seats is therefore not a sideshow – it’s about the very future of British politics. It’s about setting our direction as a nation, for the period when more and more people will be finally letting go of the duopoly that we have endured for so long.