What if….the Greens do get their first MP?
A couple of blogs have commented on the recent ICM poll for Brighton Pavillion which shows that the Green Party could be successful at getting Caroline Lucas elected to Westminster next year. Mike Smithson speculates that it might show the possibility of tactical anti-Conservative voting. Meanwhile, Anthony Wells unpicks the poll but feels that it is ‘basically kosher’.
If the Greens do get an elected MP (and lest we forget UKIP is also in with a shout against John Bercow) then it will not immediately signify a massive cultural shift to a multi-party system and the hegemony of the big three will not immediately vanish. Simply, this is due to the electoral system which will make it hard for such breakthroughs to occur.
However, it will further entrench multi-party politics at levels where it already exists; notably in council and European elections. Additionally, where they are already strong at this level it will give them more electoral credibility as challengers for Westminster depending on how effective their local parties are on the follow-through.
For the Liberal Democrats will no longer be able to see themselves as the sole repository of the protest vote. Smithson sees it as potentially good news in three-way marginals in that the Lib Dems might benefit from anti-Conservative switching but this will depend on how successful they are in convincing people David Cameron’s ‘love bombs’ are without substance. However, in the event of a hung-parliament and any kind of support for the Conservatives this advantage will immediately be neutralised. Also, it is subject to Labour’s performance in national polls.
Meanwhile for Labour it will present the terrifying prospect of a minor squeeze of sorts one which arguably would neutralise any advantage given to them by UKIP poaching Conservative voters from the right (something that may well become more significant the election after next). A guest slot on Political Betting argues that;
For the political left it suggests that Labour and the Liberal Democrats feed off each other’s votes and that their success strategies should focus heavily on competing to attract each other’s voters.
Considered in that context; a credible Green Party is the last thing the Labour Party needs. However, it will have to hope that anti-Cameron sentiment is quick to rise (relatively speaking I think it will be) and that its internal distress lasts a relatively short space of time. If it does then the challenge will be to channel it one-way.
Ending the ‘civil-war’ on the left, described in the Political Betting post, would be one way to do this but that would require it to engage well beyond its boundaries. Given that Cameron will doubtless give the left plenty in common in terms of what they oppose it is perhaps through that peace will reign. However, that is not going to happen before an election so until then….