It is approaching last orders when the last canvassers clomp up the stairs to the Green party’s cramped but bustling office opposite Brighton station. Despite long hours trudging the streets their mood is buoyant. “I can’t believe how many L1s I got,” says one, referring to the code used to identify Labour supporters who are planning to vote Green in today’s election.
Caroline Lucas, party leader and candidate for Brighton Pavilion, is today set to make history by becoming Britain’s first Green MP. Yesterday William Hill shortened the odds on a Green victory to 1:2, and in the last ICM poll the Greens had an eight point lead over their nearest challengers, the Tories. This would push the Labour party into third place in what has been a comfortable Labour seat since 1997.
If the Greens do win here, there will have been a number of factors in their success. In part it will be due to the quality of their candidate: Lucas may have the highest profile of any British MEP, having championed her party in Brussels for over ten years and twice won the Observer’s ethical politician of the year award. Another factor is the massive support that her campaign has received from Green supporters all over the country. This peaked over the bank holiday weekend, when over 200 volunteers were involved in canvassing, leafleting and manning stalls across the city centre. “We can leaflet the entire constituency in a single morning. The Tories struggle to do half of that, even in their key target seats,” says Matt Follett, chair of the local party.
And behind it all is the modernisation of the party itself, which has produced a fully-costed manifesto that is not focused solely on environmental issues. Indeed, on a poll by the website voteforpolicy.org.uk, on which 267,000 people have selected their preferred policies from an anonymised list, the Greens came top–not just on environmental issues but on crime and education as well.
In an election that may indelibly reshape politics in Britain, Matt Follett believes that having Lucas in Westminster will not just be a good thing for Brighton, but for the health of British democracy as a whole. “There are over a million people voting for the Green party in Britain.…