Skip to content

Which voters should we be targetting for the Euros?

August 15, 2013

A fairly important question – we can’t elect MEPs purely on the votes of our target wards, we need to gain significant amounts of votes from places where Greens have a marginal or non-existent presence locally. We certainly can’t please everyone, and as George Lakoff says, if your message doesn’t alienate about 30% of the electorate it isnt working. So whose support should we be seeking and why?

2010 Labour/Lib Dem swing voters

This is perhaps the most obvious pool of voters for Greens to appeal to. These are left wing voters who historically vote Labour but were disillusioned by issues such as Iraq, privatising public services and who were left behind in general by New Labour. They lent their support to the Lib Dems who were positioning left on some of these issues but betrayed their trust upon teaming up with the Tories. When doorknocking I’ve met scores of people who said “I used to be a Lib Dem, never again”, and we’ve won over many of them before.  Additionally, this group includes people caught up in Cleggmania during the 2010 campaign, but who went back to Labour when the vote came, their fear of the Tories trumping enthusiasm for something different.

There are two main reasons to target these people – firstly that they are in line with our values as a left wing party as well as open to the environmental agenda the Lib Dems often used to promote. But secondly and perhaps most importantly, they have switched parties before, meaning they require far less persuasion than others to switch again. In a European election, we don’t get to speak to every voter on the doorstep twice a year, where persuasion can be most effective, so to me this makes a lot of sense. Finally, these people have at least expressed a need to vote with their hearts, making them natural Green targets in a proportional election.

Pro-EU voters

With UKIP setting the agenda on Europe for the big parties, there is a gaping hole in the political landscape for pro-EU voters. Labour will likely toe a triangulated eurosceptic line that tries to pick up the section of UKIP’s base that used to vote Labour, and the Lib Dems will remain toxic. Cameron will try to make the campaign a referendum on scrapping the workers rights and other social protections offered by the EU. This is an opportunity for us to stand up for the kind of Europe we believe in – one that guarantees protections for the environment and workers, whilst allowing member states to run their economies in their own best interests, rather than forcing crippling austerity on nations such as Ireland and Greece.

In fact, saying “we agree with David Cameron that the EU needs reform, but in the opposite direction so that people have more rights than big business” might be about right.

Ethnic minorities, anti-racists, anti-fascists and other UKIP-haters

As a New Internationalist article said, UKIP is cultivating a broad alliance of the electorate that can gain the support of as much as 20% of people. But there will be at least as many people who actively oppose their fantasy vision of an all-white, 1950s socially repressed Britain. This might be what some people mean when they talk about a ‘UKIP of the left’, either that is the Green Party or we will become irrelevant.

The best rallying-cry that suits here is one we used in my Council election campaign this year:

“Cameron, Clegg and Miliband have ruined our economy and they’re trying to shift the blame to immigrants and vulnerable people, don’t let them.”

This proved really effective with students (who all had friends from other parts of the world) and other ‘liberal’ types, and there is whole section of voters who will be repulsed by UKIP’s surging support we can appeal to with this kind of message. This is even more important as one of key targets is the North West, where our candidate Peter Cranie says he will once against be up against the BNP. We will also up against UKIP in several regions for the final seat, so giving people the stark choice between the Green Party and the far-right is going to be crucial.

It also allows us to talk in plain language about who is really to blame for the crisis – bankers, big business and the politicians from the big parties who aren’t brave enough to stand up to them.

We can build a broad, progressive coalition of voters

Crucially, what I’m proposing above is not a exercise in ‘segmentation’, where parties tailor individual messages to groups of voters but which has no central coherence or message – all these pieces fit together to paint a picture of the society we want. If we adopt this kind of campaign we will be campaigning for a confident, proudly diverse society which values and provides for everyone, above the demands of a tiny wealthy elite which is systematically transferring wealth upwards away from ordinary people.

Advertisements

From → Uncategorized

7 Comments
  1. Hannah Clare permalink

    I really like the idea of targeting pro-EU voters. I think sometimes our policy on Europe is unclear and I think an election strategy which highlights that we like Europe can only be a good thing!

  2. Rangjan permalink

    I think you have touched some of the key points. However the Green Party is not a coalition but a front (a broad alliance of different groups with some key shared aims) and so we need to add:
    * People concerned about animal rights, badgers, etc.
    * People concerned about climate change.
    * People with general concerns about the environment.
    * People with specific concerns such as fracking.
    * People looking for an “honest” politics and politicians.
    * etc.

    Of course we need to draw the links between these issues and the issues you have raised.

  3. Many good summed-up thoughts that I generally agree with. Gaining Pro-EU voters is a strategy I do agree with but I have yet to see the Green Party come up with either any clear messaging or a succinct description of what reforms we actually want in the EU – Probably something along the lines of ‘doing more good than harm’ would work, but difficult to convey.

    Regarding Rangjan’s points above, anybody who cares enough about climate change/environmental issues should be voting for us already and hence shouldn’t be a key focus of our limited resources for the Euro election. Fracking is something that we should have a strong involvement in, although I suspect our success on that will be determined more by the work of local organisers in areas where fracking is a vote-swinging issue, rather than down to the work of national messaging. I suspect fracking is something that most people are sceptical about and have a NIBMYism stance on, but won’t decide their euro vote on it.

  4. Rangjan permalink

    “anybody who cares enough about climate change/environmental issues should be voting for us already and hence shouldn’t be a key focus of our limited resources”

    Most people will get a newsheet from us. I fail to see how we will use more resources by “covering all bases” in the newsletter rather than having a newsletter, press statements, etc that focus only on one or two issues.
    Don’t assume that people concerned about climate change will vote for us, and those that won’t don’t care “enough”. That is dangerous in a number od resoects. We have to make a case for ourselves.

    “fracking is something that most people are sceptical about and have a NIMBYism stance on”

    The accusation of NIMBYism is a right-wing framing of resistance to fracking. We should avoid the term completely as it has little value for us. Most people are quite able to transform their concern for a local environment into a concern for the environment generally, and that is where our role lies. Our task is not to criticise or stand above the masses and identify how their struggles are somehow not pure or are badly conceived. We need to become a party that identifies with a broad range of people and communities, and which a range of people can identify with. We are still too elitist and not populist enough.

    • Sam Coates permalink

      Hi Rangjan,

      “Our task is not to criticise or stand above the masses and identify how their struggles are somehow not pure or are badly conceived. We need to become a party that identifies with a broad range of people and communities, and which a range of people can identify with. We are still too elitist and not populist enough.”

      I think this sums up to me why we focussing only on environmental issues isn’t enough. I don’t think Jack meant his phrasing in that way, he just said that most people oppose it but doesn’t think it is enough to decide someone’s vote. If we focus only on the issues we have traditionally, than we remain ‘elitist’ as we aren’t talking about things closest to people’s day-to-day concerns.

      If you look at what people like Lakoff, Westen and others have written about voter psychology, most people decide their vote based on emotion, not policies. That means that a newsletter for example that lists a whole tranche of our policies is not going to be what we need. I think the best way to deal with this is to have a top level campaign of the kind I mentioned in the post, along with clearly visible online signposts for people who are particularly interested in the kinds of issues you’ve mentioned.

      What do you think?
      Sam

      • Rangjan permalink

        What I think is that we need to campaign on a rainbow of traditional green and left issues.

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. GreenShoots: Fracking, European election strategy and rail re-nationalisation | Green Politics: Sustainable Futures

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: