Why the Green Party will never break through

Green Party leader Natalie Bennett’s appearance on the Andrew Marr Show on BBC1 this morning told us all we need to know about why the Greens will never break through as a major force in British politics.

Taking that valued seat on the Marr show sofa after a torrid few months of weather that have brought climate change to the centre of the political agenda, what did she choose to talk about?

Presented with the morning’s papers, with its acres of weather- and climate-related coverage, the first story she chose to focus on was about...Congolese migrants getting tortured on return to their country and the implications for British immigration policy. A decent issue in and of itself – but, with apologies to the migrants themselves, not Issue Number One, Two or Three for the Great British Public.

So, second opportunity... What was issue number two that was exercising her this morning? Answer: the ‘Bedroom Tax’, in which council tenants are being charged for any spare bedrooms in their homes. Again, a decent issue in itself, but not one that will make many people run over to the Greens’ cause.

If there is any political strategy being applied here, it would seem to be one of positioning the Green Party as the high spending, high debt, and high immigration alternative to Labour.

Green Party leader Natalie Bennett
Given that the Greens almost by definition wish to make significant interventions to protect the environment and nature (conservation, you might say – not a world away from ‘conservatism’), prioritising a load more interventionist stuff that voters don’t like– debt, welfare spending, high taxes, more immigration – doesn’t seem like a particularly sensible idea to me.

It also seems to contradict what should surely be their core priorities on nature, land and the environment.

For what does a high spending state require? Answer: economic growth.   

And what does economic growth entail? Answer: consumption of fossil fuels and other natural resources (at least for the foreseeable future).

What does consumption of fossil fuels and other natural resources mean? Answer: carbon dioxide emissions, air pollution and environmental blight.

And what does higher immigration mean? Answer: extra pressure on limited land resources due to demand for more housing and infrastructure, and therefore loss of natural environment.

All this has me asking, are the Greens really serious?

The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) has around a million members – more than double all the British political parties put together. There is a political constituency out there waiting for them.

Alas, they seem a lot more interested in being the new Loony Left. This is not good for them politically. But it also doesn’t do much for what should be their primary concern – the future of life on this Earth.


  1. As a member of the RSPB for many years, I'd just mention that there is no way I would ever vote for the green (watermelon) party.
    Their politics are anti-people and, worringly anti-conservation.


  2. Back in the days when Natalie was a blogger, I remember being particularly struck by one of her posts, bemoaning the fact that you couldn't get UK asparagus in Bloomsbury Waitrose :

    "I was standing this evening at the door of Bloomsbury Waitrose, watching the rain plummet down. It felt like the Bangkok wet season. Water was tumbling off the awnings and overwhelming the drains, reminding me of the mountains of Bali.

    I had been trying to buy some asparagus. There was aspargus from Peru. There was asparagus from Thailand. Then when I dug around, on the top shelf, hidden away, there was some asparagus from the UK.

    Sometimes it is hard to avoid despair."


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