Two new political parties take a tilt at the Conservatives

Two new political parties have started talking to the media about their plans for the next general election.

First, Gina Miller’s True and Fair Party, launched to a muted reaction earlier this year. The Independent reports on its plans now to fight thirty seats on a platform of political reform. But, its plan is to target safe Conservative seats which neither Labour nor the Liberal Democrats will be pushing hard to win.

In some ways that’s a sensible focus, though targeting only Conservative seats with larger majorities reinforces the point about how unlikely it is to win seats. If the party does make an impact, it’ll most likely be through the media than the ballot box. That is, if by existing it generates more media coverage on the Conservative Party’s record of abuses of our political system.

Second, Ed Gemmell’s Climate Party. As The Guardian reports:

Launched as a centre-right, single-issue party, the Climate party aims to provide Conservative voters with a business-friendly, climate-serious alternative to the Tories, whose leadership candidates have been reticent over the party’s net zero commitments as Britain buckled under 40C heat for the first time on record…

Gemmell, a former army officer and city lawyer, registered the Climate party with the electoral commission on Britain’s hottest day last week. Unlike his Tory counterparts, he has spent years working on the climate crisis and believes climate-conscious Conservative voters do not feel respected and feel ignored by the party’s leadership. He hopes the Climate party will provide them with an alternative that will protect the economy, people and the climate…

The Climate party plans to challenge the Conservatives in 110 marginal seats in the next election where the Conservatives are only winning by up to 7,000 votes.

Gemmell said his party would also target the 19 Tory MPs who are members of the Net Zero Scrutiny Group, a collection of Conservative backbenchers who opposed the government’s net zero policies…

The Tories may well be spooked. Gemmell beat Conservative rivals to become a councillor in Buckinghamshire in May 2019, elected as an independent candidate with a single policy, “climate action now”. He went on to become a councillor for Hazlemere last year.

Rather generously, The Guardian skips over Gemmell’s 2019 general election results. Running as an independent in Wycombe on a similar climate-focused platform, he got just 191 votes (0.3%). The party also has a very modest social media presence at the moment – not conclusive, of course, but a straw in the wind about how the public is reacting to it after a round of media coverage.

The party’s name is a clear piece of branding – voters need hear nothing from the party to know what it’s about. But neither the name, nor the other ballot paper descriptions registered with the Electoral Commission, pitch specifically at those centre right voters it says it is going after. Rather, it’s a name that is just as likely to sow confusion among other voters, and may end up helping the Conservatives by muddying the waters over who an environmentally-conscious voter should pick if they wish to see a Net Zero Scrutiny Group MP defeated.

So although to his credit Ed Gemmell has a greater record of electoral success than Gina Miller, it doesn’t look like the chances of his party having a greater impact than hers are particularly good.

However, that both parties are pitching at hurting the Conservatives says something about the general mood. That’s more worrying news for the next Prime Minister.

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