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JULIAN SUTCLIFFE tells you why the Greens’ failure in Cambridge shows we’re too smart to believe a party no one cares about

Remember the election? Remember all those Facebook posts about how the Green Party were going to change everything? Does anyone still care?

Okay, they got a million and a half votes. But in Cambridge barely 4,000 people turned up to say they wanted Rupert Read to be our MP. It turns out no one here really cares about the Greens, and for good reason.

Except this kind of green party

Except this kinda green party

The Green Party are meant to represent young people and channel our concerns about trees and fracking. So why did no one vote for them? Because they don’t really care and people here are clever enough to understand that there isn’t much substance behind their message.

Labour in Cambridge were terrified the lefties would flock to the Greens as a party of protest, and luckily for them everyone realised it wasn’t worth it. Poor old Julian Huppert only lost out by 599 votes – that could be 599 idealists who voted Labour because they knew the Greens just weren’t worth voting for.

There’s a difference between saying that we shouldn’t vote for someone because the system is flawed and saying it because they’re useless. Even the Guardian scathingly attacked Green policies, with billions of pounds in gaps of funding.

Everyone must remember Natalie Bennett’s appalling LBC radio interview where she froze and didn’t know any of her numbers – she is still their leader and if even she doesn’t know what the Greens’ policies are, why should any of us?


So trustworthy

So where is Rupert Read, Cambridge’s candidate for this national disgrace, now? Still tweeting. A lot. He’s given a talk about the end of economic growth which included such meaningful gems as “We need to develop a sense of enough”, whatever that means. He’s living the jetting life, live-streaming this to at least dozens of people. His insights into the Labour leadership struggle are illuminating, with any Blairite compared to Napoleon III.

Perhaps the best part of his Twitter is an appeal to the youth vote with the incessant use of ‘r’ and ’2’ as abbreviations, something which you’d hope Green educational policies would address. His sign off on many tweets of ‘(PseRT)’ (you’d assume this is ‘please retweet’) shows that the Greens are really not going many places with the kind of attention grabs you wouldn’t put beyond a teenager’s Instagram account.

He’s actually an academic at UEA as a Reader in Philosophy, so he must be busy with that. There were two very different academics running in Cambridge, clearly trying to pander to the ‘intellectual’ vote. Read’s academic interest might be useful if we were voting in ancient Athens but really it’s hard to say he’s better than Julian, whose failure to gain re-election means there are no scientist MPs left and the Commons are all the more full of PPE graduates (like Read).

Out of all the student political organisations in Cambridge, Labour is by far the most vocal. The Conservatives have social gatherings. But the Greens are a different creature altogether.

Since the election, they have joined in a march organised by the Cambridge Marxists and posted a lot of Guardian articles on Facebook. The Green Party is perfect for those who enjoy clicktivism, and who think a like on Facebook is the same as feet on the ground.

This is changing the world, right?

This is changing the world, right?

It’s vaguely socialist without having too many coherent ideas and doesn’t have to have anything as concrete as policies. Cambridge was meant to be a Green target seat but nothing came of it.

If people really cared about the Greens we’d know about it, and there would’ve been more than just a two-way contest in the general election here. Our candidate’s behaviour since the election hardly helps convince us otherwise.

Cambridge students are among the most politically active in Britain, or like to think they are at least, and this is probably why the Greens are meant to appeal to us so much.

But in the end Cambridge students knew the Greens are just a party who know theyll never get in power and so can say whatever they want.


  • anon

    Hardly anyone voting for them believed they could actually run the country. Most people who voted green did so because having more green MPs in parliament means a slight shift to the left, and more focus on environmental policies, which none of the main parties seem to give a damn about. Unfortunately, because of FPTP, we only saw one Green MP actually get voted in so it hasn’t really done much good, but the principal of voting green remains

  • Clicktivist

    If you’re going to accuse a party of simplicity then perhaps including some facts in your own argument would be a good idea…

    Every point you make in this article is inaccurate. You say that the
    Green Party doesn’t have any policies, but they published a manifesto
    longer and more detailed than any of the three major parties. You say
    that the Green Party is made up largely of ‘clicktivists’, despite just having segued from a
    point about marches and their membership rising higher than the Lib Dems. You say that the Green Party failed in the
    elections, yet you don’t mention that they were the only party in
    Cambridge to gain a seat on the council.

    Perhaps, looking at both
    sides of the story, one may contemplate the effect of tactical voting.
    Or the role of minority parties as pressure groups. But whatever you
    choose to focus on, might your original conclusion – that we’re all just
    too “clever” for them – be a tad lazy?

    • Dvorak

      Excuse me sir, but do you need help using your ‘enter’ key?

  • yo

    “Okay, they got a million and a half votes. But in Cambridge barely 4,000 people turned up to say they wanted Rupert Read to be our MP”

    4000 * 650 (number of UK constituancies) =2.6million. Hence the green vote in Cambridge was actually above their national average. Please stop spreading misleading crap

    • Hey

      That’s making the assumption that all constituencies have the same number of people in them. Please stop using misleading crappy statistics.

  • Not the only disappointin read

    This is such an appallingly written rant of an article. The author clearly seems to have something against the green party but lacks the rationality to put into words why that is?

  • Devoid

    of reality. If you’re going to say that no student in Cambridge voted for the Greens, you need to have the numbers to back that up. This is especially true since the Greens won the Market ward council seat, which is heavily populated by students, they also scored on par with the three major parties in the Castle ward and Newnham. Any remotely conscious human being can see that the Greens are doing what Labour should’ve done ages ago – courting votes from campaign groups and the marginalised parts of society, to make the assertion that idealists went for Labour instead of Greens is like turkeys voting for Christmas.

    If you were to make these arguments about Rupert Read, that’d be a completely different story. But then you didn’t, instead another claim was made on the lack of coherent socialist ideas – except if you take the Green manifesto, instead of its parts, but as a whole, it forms a completely understandable system, if anything, lefties should be outraged by the libertarian idea of the universal income, but you didn’t even do that.

    When you move from Cambridge to the Brighton seat, it’s obvious why Labour lost 2 points in its vote share while the Greens gained 10. In fact, despite being the Greens most monetarily invested seat, the funding simply could not compare to Labour, and even the Conservatives had the same level of campaign funding for Brighton Pavilion as the Greens did – for BRIGHTON PAVILION. Labour couldn’t form a coherent reason for why anyone leaning to the left should choose a Labour candidate over another credible MP – they can rage against the Tories, but offered no alternative to the idea of austerity and made the case of “we’re going to do the same as the Tories, but we’d do it better”, which is hardly going to stick with anyone.

    If you want to credibly criticise the Greens, it’d be on how most of those involved are middle-class tweed-wearing pot-smokers with too much spare time on their hands; how they seem to desperately in need of a lawyer to tell them that organic food isn’t actually taxed, or how they simply detest those of wealth, even though they’re exactly the kind of people the party needs on their side to initiate any sort of redistribution, and not any of these vacuous claims debased from reality.