Will this be the death-knell for the Greens’ Westminster hopes?

Will this be the death-knell for the Greens’ Westminster hopes?

If they can’t do well in Norwich – then where?

To understand the importance of next week’s Norwich North by election to the Green Party you only need look at the following which appeared in the letters section of the Guardian earlier in the week.

“The byelection in Norwich North next week could be a watershed moment in British politics…. For the first time ever, a byelection is being held in an area of Green party strength. The Greens are already the official opposition to Labour on Norwich city council, and more Green councillors were elected in Norwich North last month than Labour and the Lib Dems combined. Norwich North could make history by electing…..”

The election comes after their good performance in last month’s Euro elections and there’s been a lot of talk, including here on PB, of them winning a seat at the general election.

It all reminds me of the suggestions in 2004/2005 about how well UKIP was going to do at the following general election and how they were going to eat into the Tory vote.

But EU election outcomes are the product of the very odd voting system and the fact that during the campaign the smaller parties get covered more by the broadcasters. That stopped the moment the polling booths opened and at the general election they will be treated as an afterthought.

It’s tough but the rules on coverage during the general election campaign make it hard for parties without any MPs to get much of a look-in – hence the importance to the Greens of Norwich North.

As we saw on June 4th the Greens become the party of choice for many disgruntled Labour supporters – and that might carry over to next week. But will it be enough? They’ve got a huge challenge – for the battle is framed as being a referendum on Gordon Brown and here a minor party has a less relevant proposition.

The Greens have also got a big fight going on against the Lib Dems who have thrown an enormous amount into the battle and have a much better GOTV (Get Out The Vote) capability.

Unless there’s a spectacular Labour collapse, which is possible, then getting third place is going to be challenging.

Mike Smithson

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