Dickinson College Humanities Program in Norwich

The Importance of Being Earnest

March 15, 2010 · 4 Comments

I have yet to observe the party beyond a grunt level of going door to door. So I shan’t bore you with another rousing explanation of how cold it gets after a few hours in the rain with doors being shut, albeit politely, directly in your face. However, I did get a chance to hear Adrian Ramsay give a lecture last week, so I’ll rabbit on about that instead. The talk was pretty basic, essentially just outlining a general history of the Green Party and their present day goals. Nothing a seasoned veteran wouldn’t already know. Never the less, it was a good opportunity to get some times with the demos. The Green Party has done a good job of interacting with the younger voters, especially with university students. Their Internet and forum based campaigns are more versatile and reactionary than many of the larger, more cumbersome parties out there, and they have a large portion of student or post-graduate based internal support.  This support probably comes from the fact that students don’t yet have to pay for actual houses or have severe tax issues.  Too that end they’re still doe-eyed and idealistic — they still believe we can insulate all the houses for free.  But this seems to be a common thread for many of the smaller parties. When a party doesn’t have actual power, they just promise to give lots of door prizes — just look at the Lib Dem’s campaign.

Despite Green Party’s focus on young voters, I found it strange to see how hard Mr. Ramsay attempted to dissociate himself from our age group. He is definitely older than me, but seven years tops (he was elected in 2003 at the age of 21), which in political terms is practically nothing.   He may have been doing this in an attempt to legitimize himself, to be looked up to, or he may realize he needs to be focusing more on the more middle class/middle age votes.

This last idea scares me: we are constantly being driven further to the center. New Labour knew it, Cons definitely know it. The Conservatives will pretty much get every vote right of center withing the first and possibly second standard deviation, therefore, they need to put their policy as close to the center as possible as a means of snatching up as many votes as possible. Labour did this as well, although it later cost them by creating a split into Lib-dems and Labour. I see the Green Party of Britain and Wales becoming more formalized, which is partially a good thing. It means they have better organization, more potential funding and actually have a chance of winning seats. But it also means there is a potential slip in ideological stances; it means the green party could start shifting to the middle and lose its initial purpose. I don’t foresee this truly happening as the green party still relies on wedge issues, but it is a potential outcome.

Does the Green Party really have a chance at winning though? Honestly, I don’t think this time around, which saddens me. I will say this, the Green Party has gone from 1.4% to 7.4% in three election. This could simply be a reactionary movement away from labour, as most of the votes were taken from said party. But you know what, a votes a vote. First passed the post is a war of attrician, greens might not win this time, but i bet they’ll be in the top three this time. The election is potentially coming up soon (May 6th), so I guess we’ll find out soon enough.

Also of interesting note: the Sunday before break, there will be a Q&A session with four of the Norwich South candidates, seats are still open if you’re interested, but you’ll also be able to watch it on TV. Check it out, might even spot me!


Categories: Andrew R
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4 responses so far ↓

  •   Karl // Mar 15th 2010 at 15:51

    If memory serves, Norwich south includes UEA, so it would be good for us to check it out. As for Green’s coming in third: I’m not sure if they’ll beat out libdems on the national level, but greens to well here in Norfolk.
    The move to the centre is always a worry: does one stick to ideals or try to get into power first to make changes. Are compromises good at times (e.g. insulating homes for free for people making less than 20K quid a year?) It will be an exciting few weeks leading up the the polls.

  •   russella // Mar 15th 2010 at 21:16

    Yeah, I’m sorry I should have been clearer in my point. The odds of them making any head-way on a national level is a step beyond unlikely and now that i think about it, even third in Norwich is tenuous. But I could see them getting 10-15% of the vote, which depending on whom they take it from (probably Labour), could make a difference in the outcome.

  •   Andrew // Mar 16th 2010 at 08:15

    The Greens in Norwich are formidable. Nationally their support is small but in Norwich it’s very very different. I’ve been keeping an eye on the political campaigning in general in the city. Greens are campaigning very effectively (more leaflets than any party, they’ve knocked on my door about twice and are always in the press!) and will win even with their existing support, never mind gaining any more support, which they will do if their campaign is anything to go by.

    Check this out to see the stats: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wU88pRJwiQA&feature=player_embedded

  •   russella // Mar 16th 2010 at 13:02

    There are many things I must agree with as far as the video goes. 1. as a fellow andrew, you’re obviously going to make better points than everyone else 2. charles clarke does tuck his shirt into his underwear 3. the youtube video made lots of humorous noises.

    However, I am still hesitant to say that Norwich is a shoe-in for the green party. I’ve been on the streets, hearing people’s opinions, and it definitely looks better than many other areas of the UK. And as much as the green-party-created video seems to suggest there isn’t really competition, it isn’t that simple. I think i may have discussed this in a previous post, but if I haven’t i’ll say it here: the difference between a local election and a general election is a huge one psychologically. I remember hearing a lady talk about how she’d vote green in the up coming election, but vote Labour in the general (not realizing they were one and the same). Many people are either too afraid of losing the Conservatives or simply suffer from a lack of efficacy. About a minute into the video, the charming British voice mentions that if the votes for the local level translate to the general than it’ll mean a win for green. That is a very big if, and one i have not yet been sold on. Never the less, I agree with you that Adrian and his team are doing an amazing job, and they are putting up a much stronger fight than I have seen from a minor party.

    Also as far a votes go, the 2005 general election did show a down swing for conservatives and labour, in favour of lib-dems and green. However, green only had a +4% while Libs had a +6%. This does make me feel very hopeful, as there is definitely a major boosting of confidence (or anti-labour voting) which looks favourable for the green party. I do hope I’m just being overly skeptical. It would be really amazing to see Adrian Ramsay take an MP spot. Especially because I feel like a win in Norwich south could start up a confidence chain reaction. FPTP will always be a war of attrition so if it doesn’t come around this time, I suppose it’s just a matter of letting the dude abide.

    Having said all this, I would be curious as to your connection to the Norwich South’s Green Party, or if you are simply a fellow enthusiast.

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