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It's in your hands...

Hello again folks! Well, the polling booths will be opening in less than 12 hours' time, and we will finally get a chance to put a cross next to the candidate of our choice. I've covered the chances for the four largest Westminster parties in previous blogs, today I'll finish with a brief word on the Greens.

We've got the whole world... 2019 has seen a breakthrough for Extinction Rebellion, but will the Greens match their success?

This is a curious election indeed for the Greens. The "Unite to Remain" pact has seen them team up with the Liberal Democrats and Plaid Cymru to work as one in seats where they believe a single pro-Remain candidate stands a better chance of being elected. While this might be seen as a noble move, sacrificing their own ambitions for a greater cause, it has undoubtedly stifled the Greens' message somewhat.


In the breakout year of Extinction Rebellion, with Greta Thunberg being named the youngest Time Magazine "Person of the Year" this week, arguably one of the curious features of this election campaign has been how relatively little focus has been made of environmental issues. True, the campaign did see a brief competition between the three major parties on who would promise to plant the most trees if they were elected (Labour topping the chart with a commitment of 100 million a year), but the conversations since have largely been focused on issues other than the environment.


Back in 1989 I was 18 years old, and the European Parliament elections gave me my first opportunity to vote in an election. Like two million others, I cast my vote for the Greens, in what was at the time a record vote for an environmental political party anywhere in the world. The Green Party secured a remarkable 15% of the vote, coming third overall, and for a moment it seemed as if environmental issues had arrived on the political landscape to stay. Sadly for the Party, 1989 remains its most successful election performance. The major political parties made a show of co-opting Green policies into their own manifestos, and the voters drifted back to their traditional allegiances.


Since then, the Party has tended to bounce around the low single figures in most polls. The years have not been totally without success; in 2010 Caroline Lucas became the Party's first (and to date, only) MP, but another political breakthrough has yet to materialise. The Party's most newsworthy moment of the decade arguably came in February 2015, when an excruciating radio interview of then-leader Natalie Bennett was widely mocked ("I had a brain fade", she explained later).


The Greens go into this election with joint leaders in Jonathan Bartley and Sian Berry. Berry arguably has the greater name recognition, having stood in the London mayoral race in 2016, but it is to be wondered if they might be better served with a single figurehead in these times of low attention spans. Perhaps once Brexit no longer dominates British politics the Greens might be able to project their message more widely again, but tomorrow seems unlikely to bring them significant gains.


And that brings my round-up to a close. Thanks for reading, and make sure you wrap up warm when voting tomorrow, it's predicted to be a cold one!


cheers


Richard




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