The Green Party: A growing force

Following the success of Caroline Lucas in 2010 winning the Greens their first seat, the party has struggled to gain meaningful momentum in general elections beyond a high vote share in 2015. However, 2024 presented the party with a renewed opportunity to overcome the seemingly impossible task of winning seats in Westminster as a minor party under First Past the Post. 

It has often been a criticism of the Greens that they lack breadth with regards to policy and fail to campaign on enough issues to be treated as credible candidates – a criticism that could not be made in 2024. The party campaigned on a manifesto that included a wealth tax of 1% on assets over £10m and 2% over £1bn. They also wanted to scrap tuition fees, a pledge that the Liberal Democrats failed to deliver on in 2010. One of their most widely supported policies was to nationalise railways, water, and the energy big five. Unlike Labour and the Conservatives, the Greens committed to an ambitious increase in both taxes and spending. In their own words, they believe that their policies and politics ‘offer positive solutions, offer change and offer hope’.

There were gains to be made across the board, perhaps due to dissatisfaction with Labour’s inaction over conflict in Gaza, or left wing disillusionment with the manifestoes on offer from major parties. In an attempt to capitalise on this, the Greens deployed greater resources this year, targeting four seats where they felt they stood a concrete chance of winning.

Despite exit polls initially predicting two seats for the party, they defied expectations and came out on top in all four of their target seats. The party saw gains from the Conservatives in rural constituencies, retaining Brighton Pavilion, with Co-Leader Carla Denyer winning Bristol Central from a Labour Shadow Cabinet member. 

This success also extended beyond the parliamentary seats, with the party achieving its largest share of the vote since its inception and becoming the second largest party amongst 18-24 year olds. Coming second in nearly 40 seats, the Greens will be feeling positive for future elections as their widespread support continues to grow, allowing them an attempt to become more established in Westminster.

Success is not entirely unheard of for the Greens. The party described their most recent local elections result in May of 2024 as ‘record breaking’, taking their total number of councillors to 812 and giving them far greater representation in local councils than in Parliament. This election result will feel more important, however, proving they have completed a wider process of professionalisation and are now suitable to serve as representatives.

Evidently, some areas of society, including young people and traditional labour voters, are convinced by the movement but the Greens will have a long way to go before they are seen as the primary option on the left of British politics. Despite the growing dissatisfaction from the left for the Labour party, many voters are unwilling to expand their horizons and vote for alternative parties due to long running loyalty and remain optimistic that the Labour party will return to an ideological position that best represents them. For the Greens, the task remains to win over these disillusioned members of the electorate and expand their pool of support.

Some Greens will feel hard done by after seeing 6.7% of the public vote equate to less than 1% of parliamentary seats, but this should not take away from their performance in this election. With other minor parties suffering a similar fate, the case for a change of electoral system in general elections becomes increasingly strong. Such a system would work in the Green’s favour and grant them a greater voice in Parliament which they would hope could serve as a tool to garner more support.

It may not be out of the question that an unlikely coalition is formed amongst the Greens, Lib Dems, and Reform over calls for a more proportional electoral system. Until then, the Greens are condemned to small gains and infrequent victories – but victories nonetheless.