In the council elections on May 22, the Green Party will be contesting 44 per cent of the seats. This compares to 38 per cent in 2010 when (broadly speaking) the same seats were up for election.
Opinion polling suggests that one area of strength for Labour nationally has been picking up votes from those who hitherto voted Lib Dem. But the Green Party are after the same people. Often these are voters who are instinctively anti-establishment.
This causes a difficulty for Labour’s message to anti-establishment voters in areas where is a Labour Council.
Councils where the Green Party are running a full slate of candidates offers an indication of their strength. At present they run the minority administration in Brighton and Hove – which is a mixed blessing for them as it has shown itself to be extremist, intolerant and incompetent.
There is also the point that the Green Party isn’t terribly, er, green. 2010/11, under a Conservative administration, the recycling rate there was 28 per cent. After the Green Party took charge it fell to 26.8 per cent.
I would expect the Green Party to make some gains in the local elections this year. In part that is due to the low base. In London there are 1,851 councillors. Two of them represent the Green Party – one in Lewisham and another in Camden. Altogether in 2010 they had 36 councillors – a net loss of eight. Probably the general election, with an accompanying higher turnout, hurt their council candidates.
Among the London boroughs Camden, Croydon, Islington, Haringey, Hackney and Lewisham are areas where the Green Party has a full slate of candidates. They are contesting almost all the seats in Lambeth.
In Lewisham they lost five seats last time, while they lost a couple in Camden – regaining them must be a minimum measure of success. If they don’t make losses elsewhere, that would take them back to the representation they had in 2010. However, given the extra number of candidates they are running they must be hoping to make some gains elsewhere. If they are running a full ticket of candidates in a borough it suggests that at least in some wards there will be some vigorous campaigning.
Outside London, there will be interest in the party’s performance in Norwich. That is a Labour council on which the Green Party – with 15 councillors – are the main opposition.
Just a few gains and the Green Party can achieve for the recycling rate in Norwich what they have done for Brighton and Hove…