They may not get a lot of coverage, but the combined Green parties (The Green Party of England and Wales and the Scottish Greens) have seen their vote share hold up incredibly well since their fourth place in the Euros earlier this year. In some polls they have tied the Lib Dems for fourth place in Westminster voting intention.
Today’s YouGov tables (with the Greens on 5%) had an interesting feature – for each party it showed who would consider voting for them, broken down by their current voting intention:
For the Greens it showed a huge pool of potential voters – 33% of Lib Dems and 22% of Labour voters would at least consider going Green, and even 6% of Tories and 5% of UKIPpers. That makes 19% of all voters, practically quadruple their current polling.
Because Labour have a much higher vote share than the Lib Dems, the ‘red greens’ are by far the largest chunk of all voters (about 7.5%) with the Lib Dem considerers worth about 3%, ‘blue greens’ 2% and ‘purple greens’ accounting for about 1% of the entire poll.
It would be interesting to look deeper into the data to see the factors supporting this, but I can’t helping thinking there’s something of a one-two punch: The traditionally greenest demographic – young people – are facing difficult economic conditions at a time when many have deserted their former party of choice, the Lib Dems, but see Labour as too centrist and burdened by its recent past (Iraq and tuition fees jump to mind).
Britain hasn’t seen a green surge for a generation. In 1989, the Greens polled 2.3 million votes (14.5%) in the UK’s European parliament elections (which at the time were held under FPTP, meaning no seats). In the following weeks, the Greens hit an all-time high of 13% Westminster voting intention in a phone poll by Audience Selection. Other pollsters had them lower, but most had them in the upper single digits and NOP had them in double digits, as late as September 1989. But over the next two years the poll ratings tailed off all the way to ‘asterisk’ territory, and just 0.5% at the 1992 election:
This time things look less dramatic, but far more solid. The Greens have been stable in the mid-single digits since May (YouGov has had them on 5% ±1 point, almost without exception). Additionally, the European and Westminster elections are only a year apart, not three years apart. They also have Westminster representation for the first time ever, along with European and various local representation, increasing membership and an environment of dissatisfaction with politics to tap into. This is a once-in-a-generation opportunity for them.
See also: Measuring a party’s ‘surge’ using social media