General Election 2024

Election panel: Is the Green party set for a surge?

Our panel of experts on how the Greens’ campaign is going

June 12, 2024
Green co-leader Adrian Ramsey at the party's manifesto launch on 12th June 2024.
Green co-leader Adrian Ramsey at the party's manifesto launch on 12th June 2024.

It’s election season. Prospect has invited writers and experts to an election group chat. Imagine a WhatsApp group of your most politically informed friends from across the ideological spectrum on-hand to discuss the biggest and smallest issues. 

Yesterday, we asked our panellists whether the Conservative manifesto could change the party's fortunes. Today, with the launch of the Green Party manifesto, we ask: is this going to be the Greens' best election yet? 

Alona Ferber: Will this be the election that boosts the Greens on the national political stage, as some polls indicate? How well is the party’s campaign going?

Phil Collins: The Greens may well do better than hitherto. In a torrent of Labour victories there could be a casualty in Thangam Debbonaire who will probably lose to the Greens in Bristol. But the Green Party needs to be very careful. Its surge is sadly not wholly to do with climate concern. A lot of people who were on the fringes of Corbyn’s Labour have transferred affiliation to the Greens. They will become a party more associated with an astringent position on current foreign policy issues than on climate change if they do not stay vigilant.

Peter Kellner: The Greens seem to be on course to double their national vote. They could, at a stretch, reach two million for the first time. But they will struggle to win any, let alone all, of the four seats they are targeting: Brighton Pavilion (where Caroline Lucas built up a big personal following but is standing down this time), Bristol Central, Waveney Valley and North Herefordshire. The mismatch between total votes and seats won is of course telling. Reform has the same problem, if anything more so: possibly 3 million votes and maybe one MP. That's why both Reform and the Greens, alongside the Lib Dems, want electoral reform. There is no chance for getting this from a majority Labour government. What Reform, the Greens and Lib Dems need is a hung parliament in the 2028/9 election, when Labour needs a deal to stay in office. If the Greens can win four seats this time, and more next time, they could be players in that debate. At best, the Greens are looking at small steps next month on a journey that might yield success in the long term. But, then again, might not.

Peter Hitchens: What are the Green Party for? The big parties have all adopted their dogma, so they have no need to exist. This could be why they make so little progress in national polls, despite the fact that their policies are backed by almost everyone in the country except me.

Moya Lothian-Mclean: Which particular bits of their “dogma“ do you think the big parties have adopted?

Peter Hitchens: All of them.

Moya Lothian-Mclean: I'm not sure their environmental policies have been adopted at all. Nor transport….

Peter Hitchens: I’m talking about their dogma on the causes of warming, the broad measures they advocate to deal with it, and the net zero target which flows from it.

Moya Lothian-Mclean: I just don't think this is true, given the massive rollback on net zero from the Conservatives and the watering down of commitments from Labour.

Peter Hitchens: There is no massive rollback by the Tories, just a slight shuffling slowdown on the road to the same, er goal. The detailed policies of the Green Party are of no interest.

Moya Lothian-Mclean: Well for some they are! Which I suppose is the question of the day.

Frances Ryan: Who’s adopted their wealth tax plan? Taxing wealth seems something that has been widely avoided by other parties, most notably Labour, despite its popularity with the public.

Zoe Grunewald: There is plenty that the Greens are offering that is appealing and attractive to the masses. Lots of people care about the environment and want a party that understands the importance of our net zero commitments and wants the UK to become a global leader in environmental stewardship. Their push to tax wealth, reform the electoral system and adequately fund public services has wide-ranging support, as has the consistency of their position on Gaza. But realistically, under first-past-the-post, the party has little chance of securing more than a tiny handful of seats, if that. More broadly, their campaign has been mired by accusations of anti-semitism, and they have important questions to answer over some of their policies, specifically housing and planning, as building adequate infrastructure is absolutely vital for restoring Britain’s economic fortunes and addressing wider socio-economic and generational inequalities. 

The party has attracted a fair amount of NIMBYISM, which some will argue is inevitable, given the party’s position on nature, the countryside and the greenbelt. I think people are happy to ignore this issue when lodging a protest vote, but for the party to be taken seriously it needs to address the very real challenges Britain faces when it comes to housing and building. That said, should the Greens get a couple of MPs in the House of Commons that would be a very good thing indeed. Caroline Lucas did a great job at raising the profile of green issues, inequality and Gaza. With a couple more of these strong, principled and progressive voices, parliament would be a better place!

Peter Hitchens: Then they are deluded. The Greens haven’t the slightest chance of implementing their manifesto.

Tim Bale: The Greens are arguably following the classic Lib Dem strategy—namely, win council seats as a bridgehead into parliamentary seats (in their case urban areas stuffed full of postmaterialist graduates) which they stand a least an outside chance of winning.  I wouldn’t be at all surprised if they manage one or two seats, and it’s hard to begrudge them that given their support nationally.

This conversation has been lightly edited for clarity. 

Tomorrow, our panel will be back to answer yet more burning questions about the general election. Got a question for the panel? Email