The Failure of the Green Party

Daniel Priestley - Writer and Editor

The Green Party has in the past been known first and foremost as the party of the environment. It was founded in 1990, but it’s roots can be traced 1970s and the PEOPLE Party, which went on to be renamed the Ecology Party. In 1976 the party won its first political representation in the form of a councillor and went on to win two seats in the European Parliament in 1999. The party has struggled to gain seats in Westminster due to the first past the post voting system and benefits instead from a proportional representation system due to its limited, yet widespread support. Arguably in General Elections, a vote for the Green Party is more of a vote to send a message to the government that there should be an increased emphasis on environmental preservation rather than a legitimate attempt to elect a Green Party MP.

Since the beginning of the Green Party, it’s policies have always been left leaning and environment focused. However, since the rise of UKIP and the European Referendum in 2016 it’s focus has changed. The Green Party has aligned itself with the People’s Vote Campaign which argues that the final decision on Brexit has yet to have been made, and that we need another referendum to take place. They are also openly against a hard Brexit. This has confused the Green Party’s message at the worst possible time. The environment has never been in a more precarious and dire position. In October 2018, the UN warned that we only have 12 years to “limit the climate change catastrophe” and now UK citizens who want the government to focus on environmental degradation no longer have a voice, unless they also support a second referendum on the european question. The Liberal Democrat Party - a party larger in membership and vote share than the Green Party - also openly supports a People’s Vote and at the time of writing, in theory the Labour Party also vaguely support a second referendum if they can’t force a general election. There is also the recently formed Independent Group which has now become Change UK, a centrist party who are bound together by their support of a second referendum. The electorate clearly can send a message on Brexit but will now struggle on environmental issues. For example in the local elections on May the 3rd, the headline when the Liberal Democrats and the Green Party did well was regarding a surge in support for the "anti-brexit parties" rather than the highlighting of environmental issues.

They have attempted to give this anti-Brexit stance an environmental slant stating that “An extreme Brexit puts many of the environmental protection laws we currently have at risk.” However, the UK government has managed to pass the Clean Air Act (which defeated London smog) and the Climate Change Act (Which committed us to reducing global warming emissions) without the input of Brussels. However it is true that 80% of our environmental legislation originates from European law and arguable that the European Union has been a useful driving force in ensuring government’s take action on climate change. The UK government has supported weaker protections for habitats, weaker pesticide regulation and is arguably not investing enough into sustainable energy sources whilst still in the EU, and therefore need every possible influence into acting in positive ways for climate change. However, if the UK is leaving the EU - which currently is due to take place on the 31st of October 2019 - then the lack of EU influence means the electorate needs to be able to send a clear message on climate change. The Green Party should keep its focus on influencing the government into helping save the planet, and not be muddying the waters with support for a People’s Vote.


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