Each time I hear about Nigel Farage, I puzzle about Caroline Lucas

Nigel Farage is certainly the protest vote leader of choice at the moment. It’s not a surprise that there should be such a person, nor even that it’s not the Leader of Her Majesty’s Opposition. After all Lib Dem leaders have often had that role in the past. But that it’s UKIP highlights the failures of two other parties – the BNP and the Greens.

During part of the last Labour government, the BNP started to make serious inroads in some areas where it managed to expand beyond its extremist racist core into a wider anti-politics protest vote. Hence the both sincere and laughable defences offered up by some BNP candidates when caught in the media spotlight that, ‘I didn’t know the BNP was racist’. What did for the BNP was its rotten heart and soul, accompanied by a disastrous period of infighting and a vigorous fight back by different mainstream parties in different places.

The Green’s failure to make headway is more striking for being more puzzling, as Jonathan Calder has commented on before. They had a big success in 2010 with their first MP in Caroline Lucas, the political backdrop is one that should be friendly to people who question how capitalism works and the combination of Liberal Democrats in government and Ed Miliband’s limitations as leader means there should be space on the centre-left for the Greens to prosper. Instead, the party has continued to bump along at the bottom in the polls, with elections results varying from indifferent to poor.

It is often harder to make an environmental case in grimmer economic times, but even so, one of the most important political stories of the last few years is the one that isn’t – the absence of a rise of the Greens.

UPDATE: To clarify – Natalie Bennett is the leader of the Green Party of course. My reference is Caroline Lucas is about why their most prominent figure (higher profile than their leader I think) and first MP hasn’t led to a Green surge etc.

22 responses to “Each time I hear about Nigel Farage, I puzzle about Caroline Lucas”

  1. Should have been clearer: I meant as in why their one MP hasn’t led to blah blah blah. Will clarify post – ta 🙂

  2. More seriously, I think that the vile UKIP are making headway because they are exploiting a very now zeitgeist: anxiety about insecurity – the economy is in the mire, this with jobs don’t feel safe in them, those without jobs find it difficult to keep their heads above water and so they believe the very ugly narrative that their way of life is under threat. It’s much more immediate and engaging than the Green handwringing over arcane stuff like energy sources and their apparent desire to rebalance the economy in such way as to send us back to a pre-lapsarian subsistence farming serfdom.

  3. That’s what it seems like to most people, unfortunately, but not quite the point. You CAN have big efficient farms in every county that use machines, just don’t flippin’ export blueberries from Chile! What’s the point? It’s a question of where you draw the line. I certainly don’t want to spend my every waking hour crawling in the dirt – I hate gardening – but don’t mind buying whatever’s in season from a local farm shop rather than a supermarket. Our “local” gets most of its stuff from East Anglia but they do have some big pieces of machinery. They spray a bit but they also have field edges left to grow wild. Their free range chickens are guarded against foxes by llamas who produce natural fertiliser by pooing all over the field, you just have to rake it up. (These llamas were already born British citizens.) Pigs are great for potatoes in a similar way. They seem to be getting the balance right and making a decent living because they approach farming with some creativity and common sense rather than greed for limitless profit. That sort of thing. Sermon over.

  4. Ha. Worrying about blueberries from Chile is precisely the kind of arcane middle-class handwringing I mean. If your budget is tight, the niceties of where your blueberries come from are academic.

  5. Just one example of how multinationals make huge profits, that’s all. There are loads more. Read the principles our local farm operates on, that’s what I’m talking about. And I’m working class according to the BBC survey ;-).

  6. Eva my dear, you are not working class.
    Asides from that, it is difficult to get into this argument, without invoking Godwin’s Law. But Nigel farage is attempting a bit of a Goebbels – less effectively as he seems to favour wearing yellow trousers and driving an ancient sports car looking like a nob.
    But if you read any of the comments BTL on Telegraph pieces, it is genuinely terrifying to see the racial hatred that exists amongst what one supposes are outwardly normally, reasonably well-to-do types. These are the same people, of course, who fear that environmental issues will impact on their lifestyle (yes they like having a farmer’s market and they don’t want an incinerator locally, God forbid).
    The “working class” or better still, the poor, are (generally) less concerned about green issues and more concerned about money. If the Green party could put together a powerful environmental economic message, they might be in business. But generally green economics mean that, in the short term at least, things cost more (that they’re better and last longer is another issue)

  7. Well, you can take the girl out of the tower block… That’s exactly what the Greens are working on now, a new economic model, “post-growth”, sustainable, long-term an’ all that. No more tree-hugging. Won’t be easy but they’ve got the point, and it is slowly getting through to the electorate. I’ll have to send one of them over to knock on your door!

  8. Oh they’re used to that. Robert has personally got a few F-offs, in fact he told a woman he’d rather she didn’t vote for him if that’s what she thinks of immigrants. But he’s getting very, very close to messing up this sea of blue round here.

  9. Do you know Barry Bolton, formerly of Sunday Telegraph/SUnday Times. Loveliest bloke in the world, brilliant chief sub and also stood as the Green candidate for Southend?

  10. He dared to tell a woman that it was her kind of mentality that led to millions of people being gassed. And got a standing ovation at the hustings

  11. (I feel at this point I must apologise to Mark for the comprehensive hijacking of his thread by my friends)

  12. Yep sorry Mark. You’ll not be coming back to this internet thingy for a while, I imagine!

  13. I am not suprised, the number of people with a ‘green’ agenda as their most important is … 55 10% max. Someof those are with us, especially wherre we can impliment or influence the agenda, ie council control or significant opposition group of Councillors. The BNP/ National Front/ English Democrat plus right wing ‘old style’ Tories prehapds represent 20%/ 25% of people, at present mostly going to UKIP. yES, WE DID USED TO GET SOME OF THAT PROTEST VOTE, BUT HOW MANY REALLY SUPPORTED LIBERAL THINKING, ???

  14. There has been a considerable drop in the general interest in green issues since the start of the economic crisis and that will have affected the Green Party a great deal. Here on Wirral the Green Party is close to getting its first councillor, but in a Labour Ward where they are fighting on Labour’s record running the council.

  15. Kate Bevan Your friends are nicer and more interesting than many a crowd I find on the internet 🙂

  16. Nigel Farage is a genial bloke who’s never off the telly. Nobody knows who Natalie Bennett is (although she is very articulate) and while Caroline is better known, she gets nothing like the exposure of Farage. I’d say good old fashioned sexism has a part to play in this one.

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