The Green Party conference opened today and for a change the party picked up coverage from some national news outlets, including the BBC and The Guardian. But it was the message itself that grabbed the headlines. A £10 minimum wage by 2020, a citizen’s income and a wealth tax on the top 1%. This didn’t go unnoticed by bloggers; and of particular interest was the party’s pitch to left-wing voters, prompting politics.co.uk to ask, “Are the greens the only left-wing party left in Britain,” and Left Foot Forward to say, “The Greens are likely to succeed in chipping away at Labour support.”
Not surprisingly, references made to Labour’s somewhat muted opposition to certain coalition policies, and covered in these articles, have stuck a nerve in some Labour circles.
LabourList, which has been critical of the Green Party in the past, and Brighton & Hove council’s Green administration in particular, responded saying they do not stand up for working people. And a similar theme emerged from some Labour party activists in the comments made to a provocative Guardian article saying, “Green Party to position itself as the real left of UK politics”. Such criticism is likely to increase as the Green Party gains support, but aside from Caroline Lucas’s Brighton Pavilion constituency, the two seats that the party is targetting, Bristol West and Norwich South, are both held by Liberal Democrats.
Regardless of the reaction from pundits and politicians though, it is the impact on ordinary people that really counts. Those who want radical policies will be attracted to the message; and that could be mean the Green Party achieving its highest ever vote share at the general election next year.
With a rapidly growing membership, confidence is high. Speaking at the Conference in Birmingham today, Green Party Leader Natalie Bennett said:
“We’re the party of real change, the party with plans and policies for how to transform our economy so that it works for the common good within the environmental limits of this planet.
“Voters are desperate for alternatives to the three business-as-usual parties. Voters increasingly understand that our current model is broken, our economy and society are failing to meet our needs, and our way of life consumes the resources of three planets.
“The Green Party has a vision of a new Britain, a Britain in which fear is replaced with real hope for the future, in which we can be confident our children and grandchildren will have a secure, decent life, have jobs they can build their lives on, have a social safety net in case they need it, and a natural world they can enjoy and rely on.
“And that vision matches the views of the British people. They want to see the railways renationalised, they want to see every worker paid a living wage, they want to keep our NHS publicly owned, publicly run, and services free.”
This message certainly resonates with me.