I’ve reposted a batch of national polling that I did in 2008, nearly a year before the last Euro Elections.
This weekend the poll ratings for us were as follows:
4% TNS BMRB
Things are very much “as you were” for the Greens. We had an average poll rating across 4 pollsters of 4% in August 2008. This weekend’s average of the 4 opinion polls is 4.25% with YouGov once again providing the lowest rating of Green support.
Between August 2008 and June 2009, we had the huge impact of the expenses scandal, which affected all three large parties, and we had disproportionate media coverage of the BNP (compared to the Greens). Although we got an electoral boost in the Euro Elections that year, UKIP were more successful at getting the “protest” vote and the BNP benefited from their media coverage and the “dog whistle” effect it provided to them in the North West and the Yorkshire & Humberside regions.
We are seeing the same pattern much earlier on in this campaign, with UKIP getting wall to wall coverage at the moment. But it is easy to diagnose the problem, and perhaps more difficult to propose the solution. I believe we need a key idea from the Greens to impact on the national consciousness and bring us into the narrative of these European Elections. Without it, we’ll be scrapping around the fringes.
We’ve spent a long time establishing our social justice credentials but we must recognise that Labour will still dominate on social justice, mainly because voters will hear so much more from them due to their size, representation and financial resources. In areas where we are strong on the ground, I think this message does resonate sufficiently for voters to make a positive Green choice on these issues instead of simply opting for Labour. However, in areas where there are no elected Greens and limited national media coverage of us as a party, there are huge barriers to us being seen as the party of social justice. Unless northern working class communities see someone they can relate to in our party at a local level, it is very difficult for us to benefit from the fact that when you purely look at our policies, we are proving more popular than Labour.
My current view is that the debate on Climate Change is hardening. UKIP are hardline denialists and we are the antidote to that. What we cannot do is undersell our need for action on Climate Change and indeed the Euro Elections are the best national opportunity for people to vote for action by putting Greens into elected positions where they can have a significant effect in the European Parliament. The majority also accept that human actions are driving climate change. Part of our job is to ensure that voters of the light or dark green variety can see what it is crucial for us to get more Greens elected this time. It is not the only thing, but we are not making enough of our unique selling point as a party, and we need to do so.
More from me on this in a couple of days time.