Greens contemplate big Brighton breakthrough

By staff writers
15 Apr 2010

As the Green Party launches its 2010 general election manifesto today, the UK's biggest online bookmaker says its leader, Caroline Lucas, currently a Euro MEP, is odds-on favourite to win the Brighton Pavilion seat. Opinion polls are backing this up.

If she succeeds, Ms Lucas is likely to become the Greens' first Member of Parliament, defying an non-proportional voting system that the majority of people and many politicians now accept is unfair and unsustainable.

However, Greens in Brighton and in other seats where they believe they have a chance of winning or causing a significant upset, say they are "far from complacent, campaigning hard, and urging everyone who agrees with what we stand for to vote for us."

The Green Party in England and Wales, whose manifesto is called 'Fair is worth fighting for', say that far more people support them than are so far indicating they will vote Green - with the Vote Match website that tests people's views against party programmes indicating a major horde of "secret Greens".

The party recognises that the challenge is now to translate this agreement into active electoral support, pushing aside the cries of "wasted votes" from those it describes as "perennial political pessimists."

Campaigners for a hung parliament, who are launching a bold internet initiative called Hang 'Em (http://hang-em.com/) which gives voters a chance to follow the opinion poll drift and help deny 'the big two' an outright majority, say that a Green MP could be in a significant position if the outcome on 6 May is very close - as expected.

Writing in the Guardian and on Ekklesia (http://www.ekklesia.co.uk/node/11831), the doyen of political reformers and analyst, Anthony Barnett, founder of Charter 88 and now a key player in Hang 'Em says: "We need as many Green, independent candidates, SNP and Plaid Cymru MPs as possible. We want to open up the political system and defy the political class." He also urges Liberal Democrats - who would be clear beneficiaries - to be tough enough to embrace the idea and vote for it.

He adds: "I believe the Lib Dems should support the Greens in the two or three seats they could win in return for Green support in all Liberal Democrat marginals. They should say to the SNP in Scotland, and Plaid Cymru in Wales, that they will fight them like anything in future elections but this time given the crisis they should make electoral pacts."

The Green Party's leader and South East MEP Caroline Lucas has a 51 per cent chance of winning in Brighton Pavilion, says the online betting organisation, Betfair.

Ms Lucas is the first candidate in the constituency to get past the 50 per cent mark.

Betfair has commented: “This is the first time since betting began that a candidate in this contest has been odds-on in this election. Caroline Lucas now has a 51 per cent chance of winning the seat, say [our] customers. The Conservatives are 15-8 (a 35 per cent chance) and Labour third on 9-2 (19 per cent), whilst the Lib Dems are seemingly out of the race at 59-1 (2 per cent)."

The company declares: “Our customers bet against each other and set their own odds, so this is the opinion of real people and not your regular bookie. That's why this move in the market is so noteworthy.”

Caroline Lucas remarked: “We're greatly encouraged by these figures: these results are a summary of many people's views about the results of the election in Brighton Pavilion, and they stand to win or lose money on their judgement! I'm continually hearing positive responses when I'm out meeting voters. There is a real sense that people in Brighton Pavilion recognise that a Green MP here will make sure their interests are strongly represented in Westminster. Now our task is to translate this into the real result – the vote on May 6.”

A poll by ICM in December 2009 also predicted a Green Party win in Brighton Pavilion, with the Greens at 35 per cent, Conservatives at 27 per cent, Labour at 25 per cent and the Lib Dems at 11 per cent.

This followed a YouGov poll (October 2009) which predicted the Greens would take their first seat in Brighton Pavilion.

In the 2009 Euro-elections, the Green Party in Brighton and Hove took 31 per cent of the vote, ahead of the Conservatives (22 per cent) and Labour (15 per cent).

The Greens are also standing in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, hoping to drive an alternative wedge into the systems there, which have become both more plural and more influential on Westminster-dominated British politics in recent years.

Also on Ekklesia: 'A hung parliament offers a political way forward', by Anthony Barnett - http://www.ekklesia.co.uk/node/11831

[Ekk/3]

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