Why do we hear so little about Caroline Lucas?
The election of Caroline Lucas in 2010 was in many ways quite extraordinary. In winning a three-way marginal seat she succeeded where UKIP have so far failed. Lucas is intelligent, thoughtful and charismatic. Yet the Greens simply have not capitalised.
At a time when the Labour Party is saying as little as possible about its policy plans, you’d think there was a hole for the Green Party’s national no nonsense opposition to austerity to fill. Instead a lot of enthusiasm generated comes from new non-party groups like UK Uncut and 38 Degrees. The idea of any further Green MPs being elected in 2015 currently looks remote.
In contrast there isn’t a week that goes by the UKIP isn’t in the headlines or are on a political show. The Greens barely get a mention. Why is that? Is it all down to woeful press management or the prejudices of our newspaper owners who help set the agenda? In a ‘digital’ age this shouldn’t be as significant.
The decision by Caroline Lucas to stand down as leader last year is a peculiar one. The SNP and UKIP have all seen their support drop when their popular leader has made way for others to step forward. Smaller parties tend to be more ideologically pure, yet overlook the fact that the personality of the leader can go a long way. Yet even when Lucas was also leader the party struggled to build momentum from 2010.
We’ve been here before with the Greens making breakthroughs that weren’t sustained. In 1989 the Green Party won 15% of the vote in the European elections. As a party of protest they became eclipsed by the Lib Dems and in the next European elections they picked up just 3%.
But now the yellow team are in a controversial Coalition you’d think the Greens would be in their element? The Tories who once urged ‘vote Blue, go green’ have failed to fulfil their environmental potential. Just where is the opposition from the Greens?
As UK political support fractures into four or five different ways, it is Â hard to explain why the Green Party aren’t doing better. There should be some serious soul-searching from the party nationally. But I don’t detect any.