The average voter cares about the climate but doesn’t care for quite drastic spending promises. Is it time for the Greens to substitute ideology for real change? 

The thing with British politics is that we tend to vote for the centre ground. While occasionally flirting with the left or the right, our pragmatic majority prefers the socially liberal, economically conservative views of Blair, Brown and Cameron.

Even Johnson, at his heart, is a one-nation conservative. We could say that this is a culprit of FPTP, as we are only one of two European countries still using the voting system. 

The Green Party’s manifesto suggests a wide range of things. Primarily substantial borrowing. They promise a lot, but is this making them seem disingenuous and unaligned with any other parties, especially in this economic climate?

The party would thrive as a one-issue party that could gain bipartisan support instead of radical policies on matters not related to the environment that cause mainstream parties to question them. 

UKIP is an example of a one-issue party that had plenty of influence on the 2015 Conservative Party. They were a one-issue party whose only goal was to have a referendum on the UK’s membership in the European Union.

After the 4 million votes they received in the 2015 election, David Cameron felt he needed to address the concerns of UKIP voters, and for better or worse, we got the referendum on the membership of the European Union. 

The Greens would highly benefit from being a one-issue party. They will likely never win enough seats in the FPTP model to have any significant influence, but if they won a few million in the popular vote, that would pressure Labour to address the climate agenda and take important action. We know that younger voters are very concerned about climate change, so why are the Greens not capitalising on this? 

The benefits of a one-issue party. 

  1. Put all resources into one cause 
  2. Gain bipartisan support for a cause 
  3. Make it easier for other parties to adopt your policies without being infected with other social policies 
  4. Hold large gatherings, pushing one cause 
  5. Gain more widespread public support 

Currently the best scenario for them to have any policy influence  is that they get into a coalition with a Labour government, but this is unlikely as Labour will doubtfully ever experiment with heading further left again. 

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I will break down some key aspects of their manifestos, such as spending commitments, which are unrealistic in this economy. It’s a wish list with substantial borrowing.

It’s hard for the average centrist voter to see them as a party fit for government. An example of controversial  policies includes a recently backtracked policy that would reduce a woman’s access to c-sections on the NHS. This caused a huge uproar and is an example of a policy not related to the climate.

The World Health Organization believes that “Caesarean sections are critical to savings lives”. 

  • A high tax, high spend manifesto in a time of high inflation post-pandemic isn’t precisely what’s on everyone’s wish list. Taxes on the middle classes will prevent them from getting much support from the public and the Labour Party, who have sworn off tax rises for “working people”, a phrase we are waiting on the definition of. 
  • Scrapping Trident might be popular with left-wing voters, but in a time when we have two significant conflicts, strapping Trident and pulling lines of defence isn’t going to be popular with the large majority of voters. 
  • Increasing universal credit, introducing universal basic income, and investing upwards of £70 billion annually in the economy; first of all, where is this coming from? Second of all, we have just got inflation back on track. Whilst the idea of “free money” sounds delightful, the cost of essentials will skyrocket.
  • The Greens welcome increasing immigration, which is a key pledge to reduce by the two main parties. They would like all migrants to be treated as “citizens in waiting” with language and income barriers removed. 

Overall, the very left-wing manifesto isn’t taken at its word like other parties manifestos; they know they will not get into government. It’s so far out of the way of other parties to attract a form of joint action.

Many people would vote for the greens to highlight their support for substantial change to the climate agenda but unfunded spending commitments similar to Corbyn’s are profound and unappealing to pragmatic voters. 

There is a reason the heavily socialist 1983 Labour manifesto was dubbed “the longest suicide note in history”; there is a reason Corbyn’s Labour Party couldn’t hold many seats in 2019. The average UK voter has no interest in unfunded optimism.

Two seats or three at a push in the Commons gets the climate agenda nowhere; unprecedented spending commitments push people further and further away and reduce people who lend their vote to the climate issue to being quite far left.

That is not where the large majority of the public are. As a country dominated by the centre ground, the greens would be much more effective in sticking to a green agenda and not attempting to cost out a plan for a government that they will never form.