I have identified 10 saved Green deposits. Six are where I expected them – four in solidly Conservative seats in England, one in climate change denying DUP territory, and one in Protestant, and so normally Unionist Northern Ireland. One is in SNP held Glasgow North, and there is the Speaker’s constituency. The remaining two are of course the failed targets, the only ones in Labour held seats.
Overall, if Brighton Kemptown, Bristol West and Sheffield Central are excluded as skewing the results, the average Green vote in Labour held seats is 1.61%, 1.71% if Bristol and Sheffield are included. In Conservative seats the Green vote average is 2.13%, 2.18% if Isle of Wight is included.
I suspect that this exaggerates the share in Labour areas if I am correct in my assumption that much more effort was put in in these areas, so another clue is in the lowest Green votes, since these can be assumed to be paper candidates. In two Labour constituencies Greens polled 0.63%. The lowest Green vote in a Conservative seat was 0.78%, the next lowest being 0.84%. (In passing, I polled 0.7% in 1974 against Sir Keith Joseph, a Conservative cabinet minister.)
Only Caroline Lucas increased her Green vote in a (formerly) Labour seat from 2015 so far as I am aware. The steep fall was also suffered to some extent in Conservative areas, but there were some odd exceptions, of which the Isle of Wight is by far the biggest: 9.404 votes increased to 12,915. This 37% is proportionately better than Caroline’s mere 32% increase. It looks as though the UKIP vote went to Cons and Labour. However, Vix Lowthion’s increase of 3,511 was greater than the LD loss of 2,495, so it is possible to infer that she may have gained around 1,000 from the Conservatives.
This is not entirely wisdom after the event. I did judge the Isle of Wight as where my efforts would be most useful, but there is something strange going on of which there are faint echoes in other (similar?) areas. In Hertfordshire North East the Green vote increased by 176, and in deposit saving Herefordshire North, Greens only lost 570 votes. This is odd because in neighbouring Conservative Hereford & Herefordshire South, the more general Green collapse occurred.
In Skipton & Ripon, Greens increased their vote by 618, but there was no Lib Dem candidate. [Since publication it has been pointed out to me that in return, there was no Green candidate in neighbouring Harrogate & Knaresborough, which had been Lib Dem held until 2010.] One common factor in most of these trend-bucking examples was the absence of a UKIP candidate, but there was one in the IoW.
The Green vote was up in the three deposit saving constituencies outside England not Conservative held, up 3 votes in DUP Belfast South, up 967 in SNP Glasgow North, and 178 in Independent (normally Unionist) Down North.
I may be clutching at a straw, but I hope Jonathan Bartley can draw the appropriate lesson from this data: that properly managed, the recovery of the Green Party will take place where our breakthough occurred in the first place (1989) – Conservative heartlands. It will of course take time, but it need not be as glacial as the 1.2% we polled in Sedgefield, when the party had been in existence for 34 years.
I appreciate Jonathan’s rallying cry to the demoralized activists. I also approve of his general strategy, if I understand it correctly, namely to stick precisely to whatever script Caroline Lucas gives him. Fine – until now. The Green Party’s game plan is in tatters. Jonathan and Caroline need to have some serious talks in private. By all means sing from the same hymn sheet, but it needs to be a new one.
Jean Bartrum, Vix Lowthion’s agent in the IoW believes that her success is due to a turning away from consumerism. But this time it will have to managed differently from 1989, when we frightened off those millions of Conservatives (or possibly Lib Dems) by telling them that socialism was the answer.
Something resembling Socialism probably is a part of the answer, but we go to those people who are well enough off to worry about climate change and explain that although there will have to be redistribution, with the Basic Income it will be limited to whatever is needed to allow everyone to feel secure without endangering the climate with economic growth.
The Basic Income can be presented as entrepreneur–friendly – because it is. If you have nothing except a bright idea, the Basic income supports you. Once it works, and you become prosperous, you pay more than the Basic income is worth in tax, but it will be seen to make sense for that reason.
It can also be pointed out that an international Basic income will be more successful at reducing immigration than anything Theresa May has up her sleeve. I agree with those who warn that we should be careful what we wish for on this issue but Britain has been taking advantage of poorer nations’ skill drains for far too long.
No doubt Jean and Vix have ideas on how to move forward, but as we are all expecting another election any minute now, I know where I think our efforts should be concentrated.
But please, Jonathan, can you at least disabuse Caroline of the notion of an alliance of everybody who isn’t Tory. The evidence is slim as yet, but it is consistent with the view that we have started taking votes from Conservatives.