How viable are Green targets in 2024? Part One

How viable are Green targets in 2024? Part One

Green Party leader: 'This is the climate crisis election' | British GQ

It rarely makes headlines outside of The New Statesman, but the Greens have had (by far) their best period ever since 2019. Since that election the Greens have set new records in:

  • By-elections (First ever double-digit vote share, plus two of only four deposits saved in their history);
  • Local elections (Trebling their local council base since 2019, and increasing it almost 10 times from the pre-2019 level);
  • Mayoral Elections (Record vote share in London, and everywhere else where they ran in 2021/22, beating the LDs to third in some places); and
  • Devolved elections (4.4% in Wales and 8.1% in Scotland, entering the government there via a not-coalition agreement).

Crucially, local election successes included clumps of councillors, with the Greens ‘winning’ some constituencies by aggregate votes. This has given the party ambitions of breaking through at Westminster . At their party conference this year the Greens set their sights on winning 4 MPs at the next election, including retaining Brighton Pavilion. This article will focus on the other targets the party are hoping to gain. A follow-up article will discuss Brighton Pavilion itself.

Brighton PavilionBristol CentralWaveney ValleyNorth Herefordshire
Green Party vote in 201957.2%28.6%6.1%9.3%
Incumbent Majority in 201934.4%29.6%46.6% (over Labour)48.7% (over LDs)
Green Position in 20191st2nd4th4th
Green Councillors in Seat7 of 2312 of 14 (including the Green PPC)12 of 27 (including the Green PPC)6 of 26 (including the Green PPC)

Figures for Bristol Central and Waveney Valley, with substantial boundary changes, taken from unofficial notional results published online.

It is undeniable that the Greens face a mountain to climb, but also that they do have some real strength in these seats. The party ‘won’ both Bristol Central and Waveney Valley in the latest local elections. North Herefordshire is admittedly a fairly hopeless task, but presumably the real aim there is to come a clear second and set up a tactical message next time around. There are some big hurdles in their way, however.

Fickle Locals

As the Lib Dems will tell you, getting local election voters to stick with you for the general election is easier said than done. Sometimes the gap can be very large. In Watford, for example, the Lib Dems have won every Mayoral election, by big margins, since they began in 2002. But they’ve never won the Watford constituency in that time even though it has fairly similar boundaries and they once ran the incumbent Mayor who those same voters had strongly elected!

The Greens are putting their best foot forward in their target seats, running incumbent and sometimes longstanding local councillors. But while I think it’s smart for them to pick candidates with experience campaigning in the area and some local profile, it only makes a little difference in truth. The British public vote for the party not the person in 99% of cases.

Part of the issue here is tactical, and in seats where the Greens are 4th it will be difficult to convince people they are the main challenger. Especially in Waveney Valley they do have a good story to tell based on those local elections. Residents should get ready for a lot of Lib Dem-inspired leaflets, but the Lib Dems make those because of the squeeze smaller parties often experience once the national campaigns begin.

Friendly Fire

The Greens face a second problem, their opponents. Waveney Valley and North Herefordshire are both rural Tory seats, but their much stronger prospect in Bristol is against Labour. At the risk of stating the obvious, it is much easier to go after disaffected Tories than targeting Labour at the moment. And if Labour surge in these four seats like they are in 628 others (Labour doesn’t run in Northern Ireland) then the Green campaigning might not matter.

This has hampered the party before. Back in 2015 the Greens had again raised their ambitions, and rather implausibly announced they were targeting 12 seats in the general election. While this came nowhere near materialising, they did win a record voteshare and quadrupled their prior vote count. They also had a damn good go at winning Bristol West (which overlaps a lot with the new Bristol Central), getting 27% of the vote and cutting Labour’s majority down to 9% (the Lib Dems and Tories also got double digit vote shares). Two years later, however, their vote share halved as Labour’s surged. The Greens were even pushed into third place.

The Greens may hope this time will be different on the basis that Labour’s leader is different. Jeremy Corbyn held particular appeal to Green voters at the time, given their shared critique of Labour as being insufficiently leftwing. Keir Starmer is many things, but ‘The Absolute Boy’ he is not. I am unconvinced this will matter, however.

In 2017 Labour’s surprise surge ahead of the election probably did owe a fair bit to Corbyn’s charisma and positions as well as Theresa May’s rather disastrous campaign. But in 2024 the key motivator for voters is their views on the government rather than the opposition. I expect Labour to grow their vote share in these seats, Bristol especially, at the next election, though given we are in literally unprecedented times for the Greens I may have underestimated them.


The Green surge in the last couple of years is real, and their increasingly focused approach on clumping support in a few places makes gaining MPs plausible for the first time. However, even as the Greens seek to replicate that success it’s far from a given they can hold onto their sole seat down in Brighton. For more details on that and the betting options, Part Two will follow soon.

Pip Moss

Pip Moss posts on Political Betting as Quincel. You can follow him on Twitter at @PipsFunFacts or BlueSky at @Quincel.Bsky.Social

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