Greens and the environment at #GE2017

BBC Radio 4’s Today programme had an interesting couple of pieces on the Green Party this morning (starts 2h30mins in), looking at how Labour squeezed the Greens and asking whether the party needs to go back to focusing on its single defining issue – the environment.

Jonathan Bartley, the party’s co-leader, sounded rather exasperated at having to explain that they do nothing but speak about the environment.

But looking at the data from the party’s Facebook feed, the environment was not clearly prioritised above all else.

green policy areas

While the environment was a big issue, in fact the party spent a large amount of time talking about other things too. A range of policies came up – for example the importance of taking a positive approach to immigration, opposition to Brexit, and the importance of LGBT rights, something the Greens spoke about far more than other parties.

However, what they really spent time talking about was the horse race, the likely jockeying for position after the election, the feeling that they were discriminated against by the BBC in comparison to UKIP, and the desire to create a progressive alliance to oppose the Conservatives.

They also spent a lot of time talking about Theresa May’s failures as a leader, especially in ducking the TV debates.

Jonathan Bartley’s personal Facebook account tells a similar story.

Bartley policy areas

As does the account of the party’s other co-leader and only MP, Caroline Lucas.

Lucas policy areas

Now, of course you can argue that protection of the environment and opposition to climate change is the base-line from which all other Green party policy is developed but to suggest that they spoke about it to the exclusion of all else really isn’t accurate.

The existential challenge for the Greens is to find a distinctive offer that ensures at least some electoral support and doesn’t see them out-flanked by Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour party.

If they can’t, then what is the point of the Greens?

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Author: Matt Walsh

Journalist

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