The fact that membership of the Green Party nationally has now overtaken that of UKIP and the Liberal Democrats demonstrates that there is anything but a slowdown in the Green Surge seen across the UK in recent months. This increased engagement follows the breakdown in the two party politics seen for decades, which exploded after the Scottish Referendum last September. The Scottish National Party is now the third biggest party membership-wise and Britain is entering an era of five or six party politics which will electrify the May General Election.
Leaders Natalie Bennett and Leanne Wood plus First Minister for Scotland Nicola Sturgeon have stated their intention to seize this opportunity to change UK politics for the better. By seeking common cause between progressive forces a picture of a potential new movement on the left is emerging. Central to this is challenging failing anti-austerity economics, but this is underpinned by the belief that the public no longer want business as usual from a perceived Westminster establishment which does not represent the interests of most people. ‘Real change’ is an all too familiar term but Nicola Sturgeon has considerable credibility in highlighting the possibilities now: “Westminster be warned, the age of female politics is here and it’s not going away”.
There is unity from the lack of inclusion in the proposed TV Leaders Debates too. ‘It is unjustifiable and undemocratic to exclude our three parties from proposed leaders’ debates during the forthcoming UK elections. I reiterate my calls for inclusion in those debates in order to ensure the people can exercise their right to question and scrutinise all major parties’ Leanne Wood summarises. The ongoing focus on changes on the right rather than the left of British politics by the broadcasters can however be seen as further signs of the traditional establishment infact breaking down.
The stalemate in negotiations appears tedious in an increasingly interactive age and the recent proposal for a Digital Debate which sidesteps this process offers a potential route for increasingly engaged younger audiences. It also continues the appetite for less stage-managed interactions with politicians. Resistance to demands for new ways of doing politics simply seems to reinforce the sense of key institutions being out of touch and increasingly irrelevant.
Despite this is change inevitable now though? There are certainly lots of uncertainties regarding the outcome of the General Election. Perhaps the establishment of a pro-independence daily newspaper in Scotland is symbolic of a genie that just won’t go back in the bottle now. And “Collectively the Green parties will be standing in more than 75% of seats in the UK, reflecting the advance of our political philosophy” says Natalie Bennett. However the move towards gaining strength in numbers seems prudent whichever way you look at it, which begs the question how to best work with allies locally as well as nationally?