The Greens’ election battlegrounds
We saw in February that Caroline Lucas has a pretty good chance as being elected as the Green Party’s first MP. This still looks to be their best shot of winning a seat, but there are several other constituencies that will be interesting to watch over the next couple of weeks and on election night.
The seat’s currently held by Labour, who have a notional 5000 majority over the Tories. The Lib Dems are also in contention, themselves only about 8000 behind Labour in 2005, so this is very much a four-way marginal. The two polls I know of for the seat give completely different results, but the Green Party’s own poll seems more plausible, and this puts the Greens in the lead.
One issue is that this poll was taken well before the Lib Dem surge (up about 10pts since then). I suspect that if the Libs seem more likely to be elected and to be part of a coalition government, this could well draw votes to them from the Greens. I doubt this will be enough for the Lib Dems to win the seat, though, and the constituency polls suggest the Tories are out of the running, particularly since they’ve lost national support since then. So at the moment, this looks to be between Labour and the Greens, and is too close to call.
This is held by Labour’s Joan Ruddock, and is very safe territory. Last time, Labour won 56% of the vote (albeit down from 65% in 2001); it would take an epic upset for them to lose it. Nonetheless, it’s also one of the Greens’ strongest seats: last time, they won 11% of the vote, narrowly beaten by the Tories into fourth.
Given that the Greens are targeting this as one of their key seats, and their candidate is relatively high profile and credible, they seem very likely to increase their share. Overall, there looks to be a good chance of them overtaking the Tories and Lib Dems to finish second.
This is the other high-profile target for the Greens – the party is already the second-largest on the council, with 13 seats. The candidate, Adrian Ramsay, is local, and Deputy Leader of the party.
Unfortunately for the Greens, this is also a key battleground seat for the Lib Dems, so there’s not going to be any tactical voting to help here. Labour’s Charles Clarke is defending a majority of under 4000, so the Libs will be fighting hard for what would be an impressive gain.
In the last election, the Greens finished fourth, with 7%. This time, they should do substantially better in terms of share, but will struggle to overtake any of the others.
Should be a pretty safe seat for the Lib Dems to keep, and the Greens are way down in fourth, with 3% in the last election. But what should make this one a bit more interesting is that Tony Juniper is the Green candidate. Even if he’s not going to win, he should be able to increase the share substantially, potentially coming close to the main parties.
Finally, this is another seat that the Greens aren’t going to win, but that could produce a bit of a surprise. Currently it’s held by Labour’s Andrew Smith, but after boundary changes the Lib Dems have a notional majority. Since this means Labour would need a swing towards them to retain the seat, it seems pretty likely that the Libs will gain it.
However, those same boundary changes also add a lot of student areas that tend to vote Green in council elections. The Greens won 4% of the vote last time, but will almost certainly do better this time round.
So, there’s probably only one seat that the Greens have a realistic chance of winning. But an increased share could be significant if there is to be electoral reform and potentially another election in the near future.