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By Lord Watson of Wyre Forest
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Green Party Says "Complacent Councils" Have Secured Them Record Wins In England's Local Elections

4 min read

The Green Party have made historic gains in councils across England with the party securing wins over Labour and the Conservatives.

The party have bolstered their position by winning dozens of new council seats, including in some areas which have elected Green councillors for the first time.

By lunchtime on Saturday Green had increased their overall total by almost 60, including in areas such as Wirral and Stockport, where the party saw a record surge with a 41 point increase in vote share. 

Speaking to PoliticsHome, Green Party co-leader Jonathan Bartley, said the party had gotten "serious" about elections and had targeted areas where the councils had become "complacent".

"We have invested in a network of field organisers as a party and got serious about elections... we are in the community, doing the door knocking and leaflets and getting really stuck in in the community," he said.

"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. "They have taken people for granted and haven't listened to people, and suddenly you get someone who comes along and has to earn every single voter, that doesn't have the base both of the two big parties to rely on," Bartley continued.

"We have to earn every single vote."

Currently, the Greens are the only party other than the Conservatives to secure a net increase in councillors, with the party winning significant numbers of seats from both Labour and the Conservatives and putting in a strong performance in the London mayoral elections.

Bartley said the success in many areas had come as people realise the party are not a single issue group and that their ability to improve local services was twinned with their work on the climate emergency.

"I think [the results] indicates a clarity of message as well," he added.

"It is the fact that people are getting that we aren't a single issue party, but we have a very, very clear message of change, and that goes to things like a basic income and tackling poverty and inequality, just as much as it is the climate emergency and we see the two as absolutely interlinked."

Bartley said while it was difficult to draw "hard and fast" conclusions about the victories, it was likely that in Labour areas some of that success came from a "long term decline" and the Green's vocal stance on recent issues such as the policing and crime bill and the right to protest.

"I think that's drawn a lot of people that would have previously voted Labour over to the Greens because we have taken that libertarian approach."

The Green co-leader added that he hoped that building up a local government base would help push them toward further victories in future elections, while also allowing them to collaborate with other parties on tackling the climate emergency.The party's London mayoral candidate, Sian Berry, had also experienced a boost. Votes counted at the time of writing put candidate Sian Berry at 8%, compared to the 5.8% of the vote she secured at the last London mayoral election.

Berry hoped a strong performance in the capital would persuade the next mayor to work more closely with the party on both local issues and Green manifesto pledges.

"Londoners have loved what Greens put forward in this election, and the Mayor should work with us to put those good ideas into practice over the next five years if he is re-elected," she told PoliticsHome.

"That means continuing to listen to us, moving faster on the good ideas in our manifesto like rent controls, and changing his mind when he gets things wrong like on the toxic Silvertown Tunnel."

Green Party MP Caroline Lucas described the spread of wins across the country demonstrated a "Green spring" for the party.

"What we are seeing around the country as a whole is there is nowhere where Greens are not winning seats," she told the BBC.

"We have made breakthroughs into our first seats in places like Stockport, Northumberland where we won two seats from the Tories, Hastings, Derbyshire, the list goes on." 

"Increasingly I think we are being seen as the third party in British politics... this feels like there is a Green spring happening, there are Green shoots going all around the country. 

"Essentially I think people want to go for a party that has a vision, a set of plans of how we would set up stronger, more empowered communities."

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