Where will the protest vote go, and what will it achieve when it gets there?

29 May 2009

The UK political media has been dominated by the row over MPs' expenses - and speculation as to how the voters might show their disgust on polling day next week. Today Rupert Read, the Green Party's leading Euro-candidate in Eastern region, called for voters to make a positive choice on 4th June, and "vote for the only party in this campaign bold enough to set out a positive vision."

Speaking from his campaign tour of the Eastern region, Dr Read said: "As we move towards the end of the European election campaign, there's one emerging story that the media is only now becoming aware of. Whilst political corruption, voter disillusionment and the threat of the BNP have been the main stories up to this point, quietly under the surface the Green Party has been steadily gaining support."

Dr Read drew attention to strong evidence of the Green Party's growing support in the opinion polls, including:

  • A UKIP/ComRes poll that put the Greens on 11% nationwide, easily enough to win seats in several more English regions. The poll put the Greens on 16% in the South East, which would give a seat to Brighton councillor Keith Taylor as well as party leader Caroline Lucas MEP.
  • A Guardian/ICM poll that put the Greens on 9%, half as much again as in 2004 - with UKIP on 10%, down from 16% in 2004, and the BNP on just 1%, down from 5% last time.
  • A Green Party/YouGov poll in which 34% said they would either definitely vote Green in the Euro-elections, or would consider voting Green if they knew more about the party.

As for the anti-sleaze protest vote, Dr Read drew attention to another YouGov poll in which respondents were asked which party's politicians they thought most likely to put their own financial interests before Britain's. Asked to name up to three parties:

  • 45% thought Labour, and 40% Conservative, would put their pockets before their country.
  • Next came the BNP, the LibDems and UKIP, on 20%, 16% and 15% respectively.
  • Only 5% thought Green politicians would put their own interests before their country's.

Dr Read commented: "There has, of course, been intense speculation in the media that the protest vote would go to the BNP. Even the BBC has repeatedly, nay doggedly, mentioned the BNP as the possible beneficiary of the anti-sleaze protest, despite the contrary evidence of the opinion polls. Perhaps the latest YouGov poll, suggesting that the public feels BNP politicians are even more likely than UKIP to put their own financial interests before their country’s, might help pop the bubble of hysteria."

And he concluded: "I think it will be far better for Britain if the majority of those minor party seats are taken up by Greens, committed to working hard for that million-jobs Green New Deal, with a positive vision for reform of both European and British democracy."

You can see Rupert Read's full comment piece here:


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