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Green Party Wins Its First Ever Council Majority

Green Party Wins Its First Ever Council Majority

The Green Party has enjoyed a string of positive local election results in the last few years (Alamy)

5 min read

The Green Party has won its first ever council majority in England, ousting the Conservatives as the biggest party in Mid Suffolk District Council.

Mid Suffolk is now under majority control of the Green Party, with at least 22 Green councillors out of 34 seats – an increase of 11 Green seats, while the Conservatives lost eight and the Lib Dems lost two.

The party claims that it has cleaned up on voter dissatisfaction with the major parties, gaining council seats from both Tories and Labour across the country.

At the time of writing, in this year’s local elections the Green Party has won 217 councillors across England, an increase of 114.

Before their victory in Mid Suffolk, the only other Green-run councils, such as Brighton and Hove, were minority administrations.

Party co-leader Adrian Ramsay told PoliticsHome that Mid Suffolk would now be first Green majority on a council anywhere in the world other than in Australia.

“It’s really significant news, but particularly locally, because it's about people saying that they want change," he said.

“It will pave the way for electing a Green MP for the area at the next election with the big concentration of council seats that we have.”

At the moment, the MP for Brighton Pavilion, Caroline Lucas, is the only Green Party MP in the UK, but Ramsay hopes these local election results will show that might soon change. 

“If you look at Bristol, where we're the largest party on the council, Mid Suffolk, where we have won today, Herefordshire, where we're growing… we've got a big concentration of support that paves the way for turning that into a victory in those seats at the general election,” he said.

“We will be really concentrating our support and our campaigning on those seats where we've got a great chance of making a breakthrough.”

Green Party representatives believe their success in the locals is partly down to an ultra-local focus, while they call local Conservatives “complacent”.

“It’s about reconnecting people with their communities,” Green councillor in Mid Suffolk Andrew Stringer told the Guardian.

“People are feeling like they’re being ‘done to’, and we just want to ‘work with’. I often use the phrase that it is a bit of an experiment in local politics. And the experiment seems to be really working, in an odd way.”

The party also feels it can capitalise on discontentment with the major political parties. In the early hours of Friday morning as the results started to be announced, Green Party co-leader Carla Denyer said: “Early results indicate that the Conservative vote has plummeted, and Labour has not made the gains it had hoped for in many areas.

“This reflects what we have heard on the doorstep. Greens are gaining from a deep dislike of the Tories and Starmer's uninspiring Labour.”

She said that voters had responded “positively” to the Green Party’s “practical solutions” to deal with issues such as the cost-of-living crisis, housing, and struggling public services.

The Conservatives previously dominated in East Hertfordshire, but the Greens gained 15 more seats on the District Council – up from a previous total of two – and pushed the council into no overall control, losing the Tories their majority. 

In South Keveston, the Conservative Council leader lost his seat to a Green Party candidate, with the Greens also taking three other seats in the area. 

Some Labour councillors have also lost seats to the Greens. In South Tyneside, Labour lost three seats to the Greens but managed to retain control of the council, a result which the Labour council leader admitted feeling “a little disappointed” about. 

Labour Councillor Tracey Dixon told ChronicleLive that residents care deeply about environmental issues, which may have driven the support for the Greens. 

“I do think that the environment is extremely at the forefront for lots of residents,” she said.

“We hear so much about climate change and environmental issues and it's now about how we as a Labour council get those strong green Labour messages across."

This year’s results lead on from a string of successful local elections for the party. In 2019, the Greens hailed a “phenomenal” set of local election results in which they increased their number of councillors from 178 across 68 different councils to 362 councillors across 122 councils.

Then deputy leader Amelia Womack told talkRadio: "Two-party politics is dying. We need a proportional system to make sure people's votes are truly represented.” 

In 2021, the party saw representation gained on 18 new councils, with then co-leader Jonathan Bartley saying: “it’s clear that the Green Party is the next major force in British politics”.

Speaking to PoliticsHome at the time, Bartley said the party had gotten "serious" about elections and had targeted areas where the councils had become "complacent".

"I think there are a lot of people discovering there are a lot of complacent councils and councillors around the country who are in one party states,” he said.

Last year, the Greens increased their seats by more than a fifth and secured 550 councillors in 166 councils in England and Wales.

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