Wednesday, 7 June 2017

The Other Side of the Exit Coin - Green Party Saving (Veggie) Bacon

Much has (quite rightly) been made of the potential impact that UKIP's exit in over 250 seats could have on Labour's ability to hang on in marginals up and and down the country. What is being discussed much less, and might be of crucial importance if the result does end up becoming as close as some pollsters and forecasters are projecting, is the impact that Green Party exits might generate.

The Greens are standing down in around 100 seats across the country (where they previously had contested in 2015). In 12 of such seats, the party posted a vote share of over 5%, from 5.1% in Cambridgeshire South East to 10% in York Central.

45 of the total seats in which the Green Party are exiting are tight marginal contests (where the swing required for them to change hands is less than 5%).

4 of the top 12 seats (where the Green vote share is larger than 5%) are marginals, including Brighton Kemptown and Lewes, and they are standing down in other crucial marginals where Labour are currently just about holding on - including the London seats of Brentford and Isleworth and Ealing Central and Acton.

Each of these seats typify a contest where Green exits could make all the difference:

In Brighton Kemptown, the Conservatives lead Labour by 1.5 points. The Green vote share in 2015 was 7%. If Labour are successfully able to mobilise even a third of those Green voters to turn out and put a cross by Lloyd Russell-Moyle's box tomorrow, then Labour would take the seat. Even in the face of a significant Tory swing, Green voters would still be enough to take Labour over the line and knock off a seat from the Conservative column.

In Lewes, the Liberal Democrats are campaigning hard to tack back the seat occupied by Norman Baker until the 2015 election. Then, the Conservatives took it by 2.1%, while the Greens achieved a vote share of 6.3%. So once again, if the Lib Dems are able to pick up those Green voters - whom the local party has specifically directed to vote for Kelly-Marie Blundell - then they may well be celebrating come Friday. The same is true of St Ives, another Con-Lib Dem marginal seat where the Greens achieved 5%+ in 2015 but are now standing down.

Finally, though in Brentford and Iselworth and Ealing Central and Acton the Greens racked up only around 3.5% of the popular vote, the Labour Party won these London battlegrounds in 2015 by the slimmest of margins - 1% and 0.5% respectively. As the Conservatives attempt to flip these seats - and others in the midlands such as Newcastle-Under-Lyme and Northern seats such as Halifax - they may well find that tactical Green voters provide an extra barrier which their candidates fail to breach.

Of course, in the face of a Conservative landslide, Green exits may well stop very little. But if the vote is indeed closer than the whitewash forecasted at the beginning of the campaign, tactical Green voters in marginal seats where their party has exited - and indeed where they have not - could make all the difference to the Conservative seat total.

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