Half of current Green supporters voted Lib Dem in 2010

“As Ukip is to the Tories, so can the Green party be to the Lib Dems.” That’s a sentence I wrote 7 years ago, November 2007. So I was interested to see this post by YouGov’s Peter Kellner – ‘Ukip, the Greens and the new politics of protest’ – which looks at his firm’s polling data to find out more about the current spike in support for the Greens.

In it, he aggregates three weeks’ polling data to create a sample size large enough to find out who these new Green voters are. One finding probably won’t surprise many of us: half current Green supporters voted Lib Dem in May 2010:

yougov - green vote

Here’s how Peter Kellner analyses it:

In many ways the Greens and Ukip are mirror images of each other. Half of Ukip’s supporters are ex-Tory voters, while the Greens attracted half of their vote from the Lib Dems. Green voters are younger, more female, better-educated and more middle-class than the average – whereas Ukip voters are older, more male, more working class and far less likely to have a university degree. Ukip voters veer to the Right in ideology and choice of newspaper, while Greens veer to Left. (In fact, the Greens are more ideological: 60% of them say they a left-of-centre, while just 40% of Ukip voters place themselves on the Right.) On religion – and make of this what you will: their different age profile explains only part of the difference – Ukip voters roughly match Britain as a whole in dividing evenly on whether or not they are religious, whereas Green voters are significantly more likely to be atheists.

Taken together, what seems to be emerging is a two-headed protest vote. In the past, the Lib Dems largely monopolised the anti-big-battalion vote in by-elections – winning middle-class support to beat the Tories in the shires and suburbs, and working-class votes to challenge Labour in inner-city seats.

Those days are long past. British politics has fractured in two ways. The most obvious is that the Lib Dems are no longer an insurgent party, able to attract support when one or both of the two big parties stumble. Moreover, there has also been a long-term decline in some of the forces that used to give British politics its shape and stability. Social class and political ideology matter far less than they used to. Our political loyalties and attitudes are more varied, and so are the sources and expression of protest. Ukip and the Greens are both beneficiaries of this new political reality – as, arguably, is the SNP as it gears up to invade Labour’s heartland in Scotland next May. They all draw on different versions of our current discontents and all offer different remedies.

Can Lib Dems win back these Green voters? Some, I’m sure. Perhaps those who want to register their support for the Greens in polls but will choose to vote Lib Dem when it comes to the crunch. And/or perhaps those who realise where they live the Lib Dems have a much better chance of winning.

However, I doubt we can win them all back. The party’s environmental policies are, in my view, correctly pragmatic, rooted in science. We are now pro-nuclear as the least worst way to de-carbonise and combat climate change. We are cautious of fracking, but not opposed in principle. We have never been vitriolically opposed to GM foods. In rejecting expansion of airports, the party has maintained a ‘purist’ line, but it is one of the few issues where that’s the case.

I think that’s the right approach, but it is clearly a less rigid approach than the Greens’. Just as the Tories’ Eurosceptic approach is not enough for the absolutists who want the UK our of the European Union.

But that doesn’t alter the immediate threat to the Lib Dems – as Kellner notes: “Ukip depriving the Tories of votes in Conservative-Labour marginals, and the Greens making it even harder for Lib Dem MPs to hold their seats against Labour or Conservative challengers”.

Nor does it alter the medium-term threat either: “if Ukip establishes itself next year as the clear second-place challenger to Labour in much of the North, as well as to the Tories along England’s east and south coasts, while the Greens build up support in university seats where they have started to put down roots [then,] in 2020, there could be dozens of seats in which the ‘wasted vote’ argument for sticking to the two big parties won’t apply, and tactical voting could help Ukip and the Greens.”

* Stephen was Editor (and Co-Editor) of Liberal Democrat Voice from 2007 to 2015, and writes at The Collected Stephen Tall.

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77 Comments

  • ‘However, I doubt we can win them all back. The party’s environmental policies are, in my view, correctly pragmatic, rooted in science. We are now pro-nuclear as the least worst way to de-carbonise and combat climate change. We are cautious of fracking, but not opposed in principle. We have never been vitriolically opposed to GM foods. In rejecting expansion of airports, the party has maintained a ‘purist’ line, but it is one of the few issues where that’s the case.

    I think that’s the right approach, but it is clearly a less rigid approach than the Greens’. Just as the Tories’ Eurosceptic approach is not enough for the absolutists who want the UK our of the European Union. ‘

    Just as an EU promise will not win back UKIP voters to the Tories, pledges on the environment will not win Green voters back to us. That is not the issue which has won people over to them, and if the party thinks it is then we’re really in trouble.
    In all honesty though, we should win most of this Green vote come election day – the Green ‘surge’ was artificially created by the media in the aftermath of the European elections (people are more likely to vote for parties they see as successful, and the narrative after the Euros was that the Greens had done well, even though their vote decreased in every region bar one, as well as overall).

  • It’s interesting, but I don’t think its about protest votes. I think that the idea of a “protest vote” is what the older political parties comfort themselves with when their support slips. The point is that if you do not represent the hopes and views of your voters they will eventually switch to those that do. UKIPs rise is about the Tories failure to tackle immigration and Europe. These are important issues for the kind of people who vote UKIP. They are not voting against the Tories they are voting for the stronger immigration policies and stance on Europe the Tories pay lip service to but fail to deliver on, In the case of the Greens the environment, a left leaning approach to social issues and the focus that brings is no longer felt to be embodied by the Lib Dems by some former Lib Dem voters. They are voting for green issues and social reform. In the case of SNP they are voting for Scottish independence and because Labour have consistently failed to deliver on the kinds of policies a lot of their Scottish voters believer in. The bigger point is that none of these changes are really reversible because trust and habit have broken down.

  • I suspect many people who say they voted Lib Dem in 2010 and now describe themselves as Greens were Green supporters in 2010 too. So they will face the same choice in 2015.

    Apart from the Greens’ Marxism, there is a lot in common between the Greens and the Lib Dems.

    However, it will be difficult for us to work together while the Greens’ main objective appears to be to beat if not destroy the Lib Dems rather than to help us achieve genuine plural democracy through electoral reform.

  • I want to make some general points that would apply to any General Election. Firstly, Polls between Elections usually exagerate the degree of shift, a big chunk of “movers” end up voting for the Party they chose at the previous GE, Thats an example of a more general principle of “Reversion to the Mean”.
    Secondly, Polls between General Elections usually depress Parties in Government & inflate Parties of Protest. Come the Election both those preocesses go into reverse.
    Both points suggest a lot of those “lost” Voters will come back to us in May, whether they were “lost” to UKIP, Greens or Labour.

  • Yes, just to spell out Iain’s point for the Hard-Of-Understanding , three years’ stagnation in the economy and >10% falls in peoples’ real wages are the things which have as driven most of these people away. Idealism only sways votes in times of plenty.

    Osborne’s cleverly engineered pre-election recovery may win back some with short memories, but we need to concentrate on those who might be persuaded to swallow their distaste and vote Lib Dem, in seats where it is us or the Tories. In Labour – LD marginals, they’ll be more likely to break for Labour.

  • Iain is right that lurching to the green on the environment will not win back Green voters anymore than the Tories going full Leroy on the anti-EU front will win Kippers to their side. However, Stephen is wrong to thing that these kind of environmental issues are the key factor in Green support; just as most Kippers *don’t* put Europe as their top-priority (immigration figures much more), I suspect that few Green voters will plump for the Environment as theirs on the specifics of anti-Nuclear support is likely to be even thinner. The Green party is increasingly garnering support as the most major truly left-wing party.

  • John Roffey 29th Oct '14 - 1:21pm

    @ paul barker

    “Both points suggest a lot of those “lost” Voters will come back to us in May, whether they were “lost” to UKIP, Greens or Labour.”

    I don’t know if you genuinely believe what you posted – however, it would appear that Cameron and the majority of the political establishment do recognise that the old political stranglehold has been broken by UKIP – which has also let in the Greens. As a result the leaders of the other parties believe they have to respond to these new challenges.

    If you do genuinely believe what you say – time to make some money:

    Betfair – Lib/Dems 41 seats or over 52/5 – Compared to 25 seats or under 5/6!

  • paul barker 29th Oct '14 - 2:06pm

    On the suggestion of a Libdem/Green Electoral Pact in May. The problem is the same as with any suggested Pact, will the Voters follow ? In general Voters dont seem to like the idea – look at the figures on the proposed Tory/UKIP Pact for an example.

    On whether the “Mould” has been broken or not, I think it probably has but look at what current Polling says : that votes for others have more than doubled since 2010 but the total Vote for Tories + Labour has hardly fallen at all. That doesnt “feel ” right to me.

  • John Roffey 29th Oct '14 - 4:40pm

    @ paul barker

    “Polling says : that votes for others have more than doubled since 2010 but the total Vote for Tories + Labour has hardly fallen at all. That doesnt “feel ” right to me.”

    This article in the Guardian last year gave an indication of what could happen if politicians generally did not raise their profile. 64% of non voters polled did not trust politicians:

    Fury with MPs is main reason for not voting – poll

    The Scottish Referendum which provided an 85% turnout demonstrated that if voters believe that their vote meant something and they trusted a politician to deliver their promises – they were far from apathetic towards politics. It was only Brown and the threats from the CBI etc on job loses that saved the Union – and the reason that Cameron/Miliband/Clegg kept at distance from the debate was that they knew that any recommendation they made would drive the voters in the opposite direction.

    The article made a distinct impression on me because, until it was published, I had assumed apathy to be the main reason for low turnouts. I did post it up on one of the LDV threads because it demonstrated why it was essential for the Party to dump NC – because he is a pretty close caricature of all that non voters and, judging by his ratings, voters dislike about politicians.

    http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2013/dec/26/fury-mps-not-voting-poll

    Farage, Salmon and the Green’s past and present leaders are human beings who seem to be saying what they believe – not engaging in carefully worded statements that are designed to mislead. It looks as if the turnout figures will jump significantly at the GE – with these new leaders who actually seem like human beings.

  • Helen Tedcastle 29th Oct '14 - 5:01pm

    This caught my eye as being open to misinterpretation:

    Kellner:’ On religion – and make of this what you will: their different age profile explains only part of the difference – Ukip voters roughly match Britain as a whole in dividing evenly on whether or not they are religious, whereas Green voters are significantly more likely to be atheists.’

    If someone ticks a box indicating they are not ‘religious’ does this mean they are atheist? I suspect not. It does not follow. The word ‘religious’ in this country has come to mean belonging to a mainstream religious organisation like the Cof E. If one only measure religious faith by bottoms on pews, then the stat. might stand. But – and it’s a big but – younger people these days may not attend church regularly if at all but are more likely to ascribe other labels to themselves eg: ‘spiritual but not religious’, ‘agnostic’ etc.. Not necessarily or automatically atheist (as Kellner claims).

    Professor Linda Woodhead of the University of Lancaster has researched this trend extensively and concludes that Britain’s religious/spiritual identity is changing but that most are not any less interested or more hostile towards it than previous generations: http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/belief/2012/feb/14/richard-dawkins-british-christianity

    The implications are that most people are not hostile to faith and spirituality.

    This is important because in some quarters of the party ( as well as anti-religious campaign groups like the BHA) the Kellner statistic will be used to erect all sorts of anti-religious straw men, in order to pursue their goal to drive people with religious or spiritual faith/ beliefs (and their schools) out of public life.

  • Michael Newlands 29th Oct '14 - 5:39pm

    Well you are not going to win me back even though I’ve been a liberal since Jo Grimmond was party leader. And it’s not so much on environmental grounds, but on the grounds that the Green Party seem to have a much clearer grasp of the issues facing young people, and if they get a few MPs may be able to shame and pressure the government of the day into doing something about it. My daughter has gone through university building up a debt which Nick Clegg pledged would not happen prior to the election, and then reneged, and she is now struggling on minimum wage on a zero-hour contract. Both things the Greens plan to do something about if they get the chance, but whatever you lot say I simply will no longer believe.

  • Stephen Tall
    You say —
    “….However, I doubt we can win them all back. The party’s environmental policies are, in my view, correctly pragmatic, rooted in science……
    I think that’s the right approach…..”

    So you think it is the right approach to lose loads of supporters (and more importantly activists and members) ?
    So you think that losing a huge chunk of supporters (which will mean losing a chunk of our MPs) is the right approach because it is “correctly pragmatic” and also “rooted in science”?

    Your’s is an an unorthodox approach to electoral success.

    Are there any more thousands of supporters you think we should alienate by being correctly pragmatic?
    I know there are only a few weeks to go but if we could get a bit more “rooted in science” surely we could adandon thousands more voters and reduce our party membership even further?

    You also think that anything that you do not like can be dismissed by slipping in pejorative terms like “purist” to describe the conference decision to stick with existing long-estabishes policy on airports or “rigid” to describe the approach of the Green Party. That should all help make friends and influence people.

    Anybody wavering between voting Green and voting Liberal Democrat will no doubt read what you have written and be deeply impressed that they are “rigid”, “purist” and “not rooted in science”.

    I suppose at least you did not have the brass neck to suggest that there are brigades of “soft Tories” just around the corner to save Liberal Democrats.
    Nor did you repeat the old chestnut about the party just suffering “mid term unpopularity” because even you don’t think that will be believed any longer.

  • Helen Tedcastle 29th Oct '14 - 5:42pm

    In addition to my first comment, the following link to Professor Linda Woodhead’s findings is even more helpful in filling out what is really happening in the UK regarding the umbrella term ‘religion’ and continuing adherence to some sort of religious/spiritual faith or belief. Tt seems that British people are spiritual consumers as much as they are material ones:

    http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/belief/2012/may/07/mind-body-spirit-dereformation-religion

  • Glenn Andrews 29th Oct '14 - 5:52pm

    ‘The implications are that most people are not hostile to faith and spirituality.’……
    Helen, that is a statement that rather catches my eye as most atheists I know aren’t hostile to it either… but they are still atheists, there is no need to equate not believing in a deity as being hostile to spirituality. Just because the irreligious (including atheists) don’t choose to give their conscience a pet name doesn’t mean they don’t have one.

  • @JohnTilley

    Well put.

    Like Michael Newlands, I’m another supporter turned Green. I count 4 close friends in the same constituency the same; I doubt we’re alone. I’m amused at the statistical optimists like Paul Barker, and very amused at Stephen Tall’s upside-down pragmatism. I’m sure that either I’ll statistically return to the fold, or by not doing so, I’ll prove my vote wasn’t worth having in the first place.

    Ever onward!

  • Paul Waiter
    Perhaps Michael Rowland’s daughter hopes to get a better paid job at some point in the next 30 years.

  • Richard Church 29th Oct '14 - 7:10pm

    This thread is supposed to be about Green and UKIP voters. It would help if Helen Tedcastle did not use it to make such prejudiced and false asserions about non religious campaigners within the party, and the BHA.

  • Eddie Sammon 29th Oct '14 - 7:46pm

    I think Helen’s comment was fair and on topic enough. Not everyone has the time or confidence to write an article, so they will often make a comment connected to the article, rather than about its main point. These types of comments are traditionally tolerated on LDV.

    Importantly, I think she raises a good point: at times sections of the party have not sounded very tolerant towards religious freedom.

    When it comes to the article’s main point: I am surprised by quite how many Green voters are former Lib Dems, but let’s not forget: the Greens have no credible answers to many of the country’s problems.

  • Green Voter 29th Oct '14 - 7:58pm

    If Clegg has “credible answers”, why did he break the pledge on tuition fees?
    There is a credibility problem. Fallon, Hughes and Cable are doing nothing about it, letting the party rot away

  • “but let’s not forget: the Greens have no credible answers to many of the country’s problems.”

    Let us not forget that their answers may be ones they actually believe, and ones they have not been proven to be false to, and ones that their members can wholeheartedly get behind.

  • I could have told you that you’ve lost a lot of support to the Greens without a poll.

    I voted Lib Dem in 2010 and am considering voting Green. In the next Holyrood election I’ll vote Green on the PR list, probably SNP for the constituency. For Westminster I’m really not sure, but not Lib Dem again.

    I guess I’d describe my politics as Centre Left/Social Democratic (I believe in cracking down on tax avoidance, I want a strong NHS and a good social safety net, I believe university education should be provided FOC by the state etc…) and I’m also fairly socially liberal (I’d legalise cannabis, support gay marriage etc…). Lots of people my age (mid 30’s) have political views like mine. Further more, I’d suggest that many Lib Dem voters prior to 2010 had views like mine too, especially Lib Dem voters in my age group.

    Now ask yourselves this. Prior to 2010 is it any surprise that people with political opinions like mine voted Lib Dem? And is it any surprise that after 5 years of Lib/Con government most of us no longer will?

  • So YouGov has the Greens overtaking for the first time. Ouch!

    I am sure the rise of the Greens has everything to do with environmental policy nuances and nothing at all to do with them being a genuine rather than pretend left-wing alternative to Labour.

  • Paul In Wokingham 30th Oct '14 - 7:05am

    @Wintergreen – actually today’s YouGov poll showing Green ahead of LD is the second time in two weeks that this has happened. The recent trend towards parity with the Greens (and now the occasional Green lead over LD) may well reflect the exodus of a further (final?) tranche of left/green LD support. At 6% we are close to the promised land of Reeves and Clegg: a fringe party dependent for survival on a sliver of soft-tory support.

  • Julian Critchley 30th Oct '14 - 9:01am

    As others have noted, it’s unwise to assume that Green supporters are attracted/motivated mainly by environmental concerns, just as UKIP supporters aren’t necessarily exercised about the EU.

    The Greens are absolutely the closest fit to my own position on a whole range of issues I care about, from the economy to education policy. If we had a decent proportional system, I would unhesitatingly vote for them, as I did in the Euro elections. The General Election, however, would waste that vote. I still may do so, because I can’t find enough in Miliband’s Labour to motivate myself to vote for them, and the only reason I would do so would be if there was a danger the Tories might win locally.

    I don’t find this poll movement at all surprising : look closely at Green policies and you’ll see many similarities to the Kennedy LibDems, espousing values that a lot of us thought we were voting for at the 2010 General Election before we realised the party had been taken over by a Cleggite faction.

    Something else the LibDems might recognise is that no matter what the Greens do, or how popular their policies are when presented fairly to the public, the media seems to be imposing something of a deliberate blackout of coverage, preferring instead to admit the UKIP clowns into the “debate” as a fourth Thatcherite party, rather than allow the oxygen of publicity to a party offering a genuine alternative to the status quo. How times change…

  • Helen Tedcastle 30th Oct '14 - 10:06am

    Glenn Andrews
    ‘..most atheists I know aren’t hostile to it either… but they are still atheists, there is no need to equate not believing in a deity as being hostile to spirituality. ‘

    I trust you read the articles by Professor Woodhead. The assertion by Kellner that Green supporters who supported us were atheists – because they ticked the box ‘no religion’ – is not an assertion that can be made validly. Religious faith is changing not declining. It is more diverse and more individualistic than even thirty years ago, reflecting the kind of consumer-shopping society we have become.

    You are right that there are many individuals who identify as atheist not personally hostile to faith and in fact embrace some form of spirituality (so yes, there can be Christian atheists or Buddhist-Christians).

    That is the whole point. British people’s religious identity is changing and is not hostile to faith and belief – the opposite in fact.

    However, the Kellner comments are open to misinterpretation in some quarters of the party as somehow reinforcing their conviction on the stance of the party toward faith ie: faith is declining according to numbers going every week to church, ergo banish it from the public discourse (the BHA push this line constantly aswell). It is a crude analysis in my view – numbers of bottoms on pews is not a good measure of faith.

    ‘Just because the irreligious (including atheists) don’t choose to give their conscience a pet name doesn’t mean they don’t have one.’

    Oh dear. Having begun by stating that atheists are not hostile to faith, this unnecessary jibe is made- hardly tolerant or liberal-minded – and you dare to have a bird logo beside your name!

  • Helen Tedcastle 30th Oct '14 - 10:19am

    Richard Church
    ‘This thread is supposed to be about Green and UKIP voters.’

    Agreed, which is why my comment was a direct response to it. Kellner made a comment about the numbers of intended Green supporters ticking the ‘no religion’ box and then asserting that these people are ‘atheists.’ I am challenging this assertion with actual findings on trends in Britain by a leading academic.

    ‘ It would help if Helen Tedcastle did not use it to make such prejudiced and false asserions about non religious campaigners within the party, and the BHA.’

    I’m not making assertions about individual people but groups who have a campaign agenda. The idea that the BHA is not hostile to religious faith is not born out by fact. They pay a campaigner to work full time against faith schools. If they were tolerant of religious diversity and free expression of faith, I don’t think they would do this.

  • Stephen Campbell 30th Oct '14 - 10:47am

    I do find this sneering at the Greens, by Lib Dems on here who I will not name out of politeness, to be breathtaking in its complacence. The political “centre” has shifted so rightward in the past 30 years that positions I still hold now which were considered “mainstream” in the past are now considered dangerously left-wing by some Liberal Democrats, even though some of those positions were once held by this party as recently as the days of Charles Kennedy. I still consider myself a social democrat, so it is not me who has changed his views, but the views of this party which I supported for 10 years. I cannot, however, support the Lib Dems any longer and to see some people on here talking down to Green supporters with an air of superiority is sad and these posters could do well to use a bit more humility.

    For the record, I’ve moved to the Greens mainly for economic and democratic reasons, not environmental ones (though I do largely support our environmental policies). Liberal Democrats used to be all about challenging large concentrations of power, no matter where they lie. Sadly, this party now seems to toe the corporate line just like Labour, Tory and UKIP. As we now see, some multinational corporations have more power and wealth than some nation states. Most corporations, by their very nature, are anti-democratic, top-down totalitarian systems. Where is Liberal Democrat talk of economic and industrial democracy? Unlike the three main parties, the Greens oppose the anti-democratic corporate power grab that is the TTIP. This is something the Lib Dems would have once opposed, but in turning yourselves into a slightly nicer version of the Tories, challenging corporate power seems to have gone by the wayside. With the Greens, I feel politically reinvigorated: I feel I now have a party that listens to its members, cares about people more than profits and is more democratic than the Lib Dems. I feel as if the Liberal Democrats only goal these days is to keep “power” at all costs. I truly have no idea if your party even holds principles any longer.

    There are many, many people who have not changed their political views yet the parties they used to support (especially Lib Dem and Labour) have changed and moved so far to the right they might as well join the Tories. There is little policy difference between the three parties anyway; no wonder people are moving to the Greens or (shudder) UKIP. People are sick of politics by PR. People want leaders who have strongly held beliefs. People want a real choice between drastically different parties, not simply Blue Tory, Red Tory or Yellow Tory. And most of all people want politicians who, once in Parliament, will do what they said they would: keep their pledges. Remember “no more broken promises”? Nick Clegg is the epitome of politics for power’s sake, politics by ad-men and PR wonks.

    A little less sneering and continual “we are the one true way” by some Liberal Democrats would not be amiss. After all, we Greens beat you lot in the European elections and are often higher than you in voting intention polls for the 2015 general election. I think your party needs to re-discover its humility and humanity.

  • Richard Church 30th Oct '14 - 10:53am

    Helen,
    Opposing state funded faith schools is not intolerance of religious diversity. Diversity surely requires that all faiths and beliefs should have equal status and access to public services, including education. But your original post went much further, you said that the BHA (and some people in the Lib Dems) want to drive people of faith and religion ‘out of public life’. When have the BHA or anyone in the Lib Dems said such a thing?

  • Lib Dems at 6% in YouGov, is that our lowest from that pollster since when? Greens at 7%. Last week Greens at 8%. In Scotland , Lib Dems at 4%. The latest Ashcroft survey of constituencies says 73% of their identified support would hold fast only 6% reverting to Lib Dems in those constituencies where we are a genuine contestant. It could be a flash in the pan but the Greens have the potential to be a headache next May, at present they certainly seem to justify being included in the election debates.
    (I have a close contact with a prominent Green activist and am told they are targetting 12 seats, 4 concern our party)..

  • A poll in today’s Sun put the Greens on 7% and Lib Dems on 6%. This means we have lost 8% to UKIP, 5% to Greens and 4% to Labour. Yet in local byelections we outvote the Greens and win a few seats, mostly gains , while they win nothing. The Green surge is very unlikely to win them any new parliamentary seats, but very likely to take votes from the Lib Dems and also Labour thereby letting the Tories make gains. Are the Greens the Tories secret weapon which will win them the election war?

  • Helen Tedcastle 30th Oct '14 - 11:36am

    Richard Church

    What is your response to Professor Woodhead’s research? Britain’s religious landscape is changing but it isn’t less religious. Kellner’s assertion about intended Green voters of ‘no religion’ being ‘atheist’ is too simplistic and misleading.

    On your point about faith schools. Since the religious emancipation of faith communities in the nineteenth century, (after centuries of discrimination), Jews and Catholics have been allowed to serve their communities through their schools and have accepted financial contributions from the state – after all they provide a very valuable service. The state recognises this.

    Are you suggesting that this freedom to serve should be taken away from faith communities to conform to a humanist – secularist agenda – one which bleaches diversity?

    Those who identify as having ‘no religion’ are not necessarily hostile to faith or faith schools – Professor Woodhead’s research suggests Britain is still deeply religious and culturally, deeply Christian, even if the style of religious adherence is shifting among young people.

    ‘But your original post went much further, you said that the BHA (and some people in the Lib Dems) want to drive people of faith and religion ‘out of public life’. When have the BHA or anyone in the Lib Dems said such a thing?’

    I judge campaign groups in the party and the BHA by their actions and campaign aims and priorities over time. I would suggest that funding a full time officer to campaign against faith schools is ample enough evidence that the BHA are not tolerant of faith communities and their right to run schools according to their own ethos, as well as to be recognised for their valuable contribution by the state.

  • It is now quite possible the Greens could well out vote our party two – one or more at Rochester. A gloomy thought indeed. In that unfortunate scenario might we then be required to consider making certain managerial changes?

  • Despite some good news on environmental action from our ministers, overall we don’t come across any more as seeing the environment as a major issue. Nick Clegg, for example, doesn’t talk about it often enough or with passion. I do believe we’ve trimmed too much – on Trident, for example – and this has cost us. Undoubtedly the social and belief profile of Green supporters is close to ours and maybe they’ve understood better than our centrists where their support came from.

    One last point. To say you’re not religious is not at all the same as saying you’re atheist. Many Green supporters I know would say they were spiritual but not religious (which is a misunderstanding of the word “religious”, I think, but that has no impact on their replies) or that they’re agnostic or pagan; many are experimenting with different strands of different religions. The position “well, yes, I suppose there is a God but I don’t think about it much and I don’t go to church”, which would presumably lead to a “not religious” reply, is I suspect underrepresented among Greens and Lib Dems.

  • Matthew Huntbach 30th Oct '14 - 11:42am

    Helen Tedcastle

    You are right that there are many individuals who identify as atheist not personally hostile to faith and in fact embrace some form of spirituality (so yes, there can be Christian atheists or Buddhist-Christians).

    Off-topic for the main issue (I have things to say on that, but have not had time to say them …), but I’ve often noticed there can be Protestant atheists and Catholic atheists. A “Protestant atheist” is someone whose assumptions about how religion works are Protestant ones, centred on scripture, whereas a “Catholic atheist” is someone whose assumptions about how religion works are Catholic ones, centred on ritual and organisation. Most atheists in this country are Protestant atheists. Go to somewhere like Italy, and you’ll find most atheists are Catholic atheists. For obvious reasons, I think, but they are rarely aware of it themselves.

  • For those really interested there was an Academic analysis of Green Party membership done in the early 90s, I think. It found that Greens were consistently less likely to be actively religious. The only Religions that were over-represented among Greens were The Quakers & Pagans. Certainly Pagans were the only ones who held services at Green Party Conference.
    On the occasional Polls showing Greens ahead of Libdems, all this shows is that the upper end of the Green range (2-8%) overlaps the lower end of Ours (6-15%). Better to stick to Polling averages, both UKPR & The BBC run them. We have been around 8% & the Greens 5%.

  • Helen Tedcastle 30th Oct '14 - 12:47pm

    Matthew Huntbach

    Indeed. Former Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sacks pointed out to Richard Dawkins that his hostility to the Hebrew Bible was a very (nineteenth century) Protestant Christian-atheist form of hostility (in relation to his interpretation of certain texts) and then pointed out how Jews read the same scriptures quite differently. Contemporary Christian readings of the same texts are wholly different to the Dawkins interpretation aswell, suggesting that texts are re-read and re-interpreted dynamically in every generation.

    Anyway I’m off topic…

  • Bob Jones 30th Oct ’14 – 11:27am

    Bob, you are a bit out of date.
    The days when we naturally outvoted The Greens in by-elections etc are no longer with us.
    We can no longer wrap ourselves in a comfortable delusion that The Greens never actually elect anyone.

    The facts are that there are now 172 elected Green Councllors (more than UKIP), there are 3 Green MEPs from England and Wales (and the SNP MEPs sit with the Green Group in the European Parliament), there are two Green members of the Greater London Assembly- the same number as Liberal Democrats.
    Green Party membership continues to rise whilst our membership has declined very significantly.
    All this has been achieved despite a media blackout on the Greens because the media folk in the Westminster Bubble just love to promote the Faragista now that they are bank-rolled by a few rich men with very fat cheque books.

    The days of the Liberal Democrats always automatically doing better in by-elections than the Greens are gone.
    The days when Liberal Democrats can actually find anyone to stand as a candidate are also gone.
    At the next General Election the Greens will be standing more candidates than ever before.
    How many empty spaces are there still for Liberal Democrat ppcs just a few weeks before the election starts?

    The problem is as Simon Banks points out –“..the social and belief profile of Green supporters is close to ours and maybe they’ve understood better than our centrists where their support came from..”

    The logical conclusion of the Clegg Coup (as Paul in Wokingham points out) has been to force out Liberal Democrat voters, members and activists from the Liberal Democrat fold.

    The age structure of supporters tells and even more stark story.
    I think I am right in remembering that the figure of support for the Greens amongst voters under 24 years of age is almost 30%.
    Liberal Democrat MPs with a high proportion of student voters in their patch ignore that figure at their peril.
    Even if every student in the country has forgotten tuition fees (as if!) the rightward shift under Clegg has killed off our support amongst the young and idealistic.
    Unless something changes, the future is not orange, the future is Green.

  • Paul Barker
    Interesting though academic studies from the early 1990s might be we are actually living in 2014.
    John Major is no longer Prime Minister and even that young chap Ashdown has moved on and done a few other things in the meantime.
    Academic studies of the Green Party in the early 1990s are about as useful as a ZX Spectrum.

  • Green Voter 30th Oct '14 - 1:27pm

    “as well as to be recognised for their valuable contribution by the state”

    What contribution do faith schools make which could not be provided by non-faith schools?

  • Picking up on Paul K’s comment “I suspect many people who say they voted Lib Dem in 2010 and now describe themselves as Greens were Green supporters in 2010 too. So they will face the same choice in 2015.” ( 29th Oct ’14 – 12:09pm)

    The question I pose is whether the 2015 election will be perceived as being ‘important’. I ask as looking back we can see that at the time, people’s perceptions were the 1979, 1997 and 2010 general elections were fundamentally important and real change was in the air and hence each vote really did count. In each of these elections the smaller ‘protest’ vote parties lost votes.

    Hence if the LibDems (or other parties) wish to pick up Green votes, I suggest they need to provide sufficient Green policies to be attractive and show they stand a good chance of getting elected and so deliver meaningful progress on green issues.

  • Helen Tedcastle 30th Oct '14 - 2:29pm

    @ Green Voter
    (See my comments on Kellner’s assertion about Green voters further up the thread).

    Faith schools have a distinctive and explicit ethos arising from a set of values and commitments which would be suppressed if every school was secularised.

    The state recognised the right of previously oppressed faith communities to open and run schools in the nineteenth century – it was a freedom to educate within a distinctive ethos and set of values.

    To get rid of them either deliberately or by stealth, means taking a freedom and a right away from faith communities for ideological reasons. Hardly a liberal move.

    Diversity in the system is a strength not a weakness.

  • Perhaps someone can explain a phenomenon that completely mystifies me.

    The Lib Dem brand has been comprehensively trashed, the wishes of the membership and wider base have been ignored, the broad thrust of policy has changed to support uber-corporatist and undemocratic proposals like the TTIP. Even the competence with which political manoeuvring and positioning (irrespective of the actual policies involved) is conducted is in serious doubt. Support has predictably collapsed and moved to the Greens and others.

    The reason is clear – the ‘Clegg coup’ and the sea change in the party’s positioning that followed. In any other Party there would have been a revolt. And yet in the Lib Dems there is barely a peep of protest from MPs or members of senior committees even though many of the MPs in particular have skin in the game.

    So, what gives? Does someone hold incriminating files on all the MPs? Did they all suddenly convert to latter-day Thatcherism just as everyone else though it was dead on its feet? As I say, I’m mystified.

  • Green Voter 30th Oct '14 - 2:51pm

    A secular school can put emphasis on good character and good academic results as much as a faith school.
    What makes you think otherwise?

  • Peter Chivall 30th Oct '14 - 3:02pm

    Few people in this thread seem to have commented on the lack of any apparent understanding by the Leadership of the basis of Green issues or their importance to our party’s survival as a significant political force. Ryan Coetzee has just circulated Statement of fundamental beliefs to feature in our 2015 campaign. In it he gives Green issues just 32 words out of 478. A friend of mine calculated that as just 7%, interestingly the same figure as our Yougove % poll. If half of our 2010 support has gone to the Greens, while we may not win it all back, we should at least try. We are told that Green issues rank low with the electorate at large, but we are not competing for votes with the greedy, selfish, myopic, lazy and xenophobic parties. Of course we want our economy to thrive and our society to be fairer, but we need every vote we can get, and as David Howard said recently in ‘Liberator’, the numbers of anti racist non Europhobic Tories who will come over to us based on our economic or libertarian policies is limited to 2 or 3%.
    So why do our leaders keep ignoring or downgrading the issues on which we can have the most impact with the public? The answer sadly has to be faced : they don’t believe or understand them enough to be able to defend them.

  • Stephen Campbell 30th Oct '14 - 3:08pm

    @Roland: “Hence if the LibDems (or other parties) wish to pick up Green votes, I suggest they need to provide sufficient Green policies to be attractive and show they stand a good chance of getting elected and so deliver meaningful progress on green issues.”

    Not just green issues. The Lib Dems seem to have adopted the neoliberal/Thatcherite consensus. Lib Dems no longer challenge concentrations of anti-democratic corporate power. This party’s leadership is supporting the TTIP which will move us closer to rule by corporations, rather than by elected governments. Where is the economic and industrial democracy so many people long for? The Liberal Democrats now, in many many cases, puts profit and the needs of capital before the needs of actual human beings. The party, in voting for and supporting the Tory’s attacks on the poorest and most vulnerable in society, not to mention the NHS reforms has lost its soul and entire reason for existing. Ok, so the Lib Dems are now trying to attract people who are “nice Tories”. That strategy is not working, is it?

    People are sick to death of politics by ad-men and PR. We essentially have three Tory parties, at least in economic terms. People want a real, proper choice. Where have all the conviction politicians gone? I despise almost everything UKIP stands for, but at least they’re giving people a choice. And at least, now that I’m a member of the Greens, I have a party that listens to what its members and voters wants and does not stand for the corporate consensus which Labour, Tory, Lib Dem and UKIP all subscribe to.

  • Stephen Campbell 30th Oct '14 - 3:13pm

    @JohnTilley: I think the time has come for you to leave the Lib Dems and join the Greens! I do find myself agreeing with almost everything you write here on LDV. The Greens are the natural home for people such as us. And we could use someone as eloquent and devoted to social justice as you are.

    @GF: “So, what gives? Does someone hold incriminating files on all the MPs? Did they all suddenly convert to latter-day Thatcherism just as everyone else though it was dead on its feet? As I say, I’m mystified.”

    I am mystified as well. Maybe they just don’t care any more. Maybe they were more committed to making the coalition seem as a love-in and a natural marriage than they were to their electorate and supposed principles. Or maybe they’ve just all got nice corporate consultancies and directorships lines up once they leave the Commons.

  • Stephen Hesketh 30th Oct '14 - 3:49pm

    @JohnTilley30th Oct ’14 – 12:56pm

    ** The problem is as Simon Banks points out –“..the social and belief profile of Green supporters is close to ours and maybe they’ve understood better than our centrists where their support came from..”

    The logical conclusion of the Clegg Coup (as Paul in Wokingham points out) has been to force out Liberal Democrat voters, members and activists from the Liberal Democrat fold. **

    I couldn’t agree more John … and of course Simon.

    @Stephen Campbell 30th Oct ’14 – 3:13pm
    “I think the time has come for you (and others?) to leave the Lib Dems and join the Greens! I do find myself agreeing with almost everything you write here on LDV. The Greens are the natural home for people such as us.”

    Stephen, I don’t mind admitting that if I didn’t live in a constituency with a good Lib Dem MP I would be feeling tempted.

    If we don’t return to our progressive green, egalitarian, communitarian, industrial democracy-supporting etc Liberal and democratic (i.e. Preamble) positions immediately after the next GE, I can foresee us completely imploding and many activists, particularly in those seats where we don’t have an MP or strong community and council base, simply fading away or indeed joining the Greens as you say.

    Very, very sad.

  • Stephen Hesketh 30th Oct '14 - 3:51pm

    Oops … and of course Paul in Wokingham. Apologies!

  • Helen Tedcastle 30th Oct '14 - 5:03pm

    Green voter
    ‘ A secular school can put emphasis on good character and good academic results as much as a faith school.’

    Of course. The public schools have also emphasised the two areas you identify – character, resilience, fair play as well as high academic standards.

    Is that all there is to ethos? Faith schools I am familiar with emphasise other-regarding values such as compassion and mercy, especially for the poor and marginalised, not just personal ‘character.’ These values are underpinned not just on the say so of the head or because Ofsted are looking for it as part of their box-ticking exercise but by key concepts/texts of the faith community.

    There is particular emphasis on spiritual and moral development which from my experience, happens on an ad hoc basis in community schools. This is at the central core to the life of a faith school and marginal or important in other schools depending upon the priorities of the headteacher and chair of governors.

    What makes you think otherwise?

    I have taught in community schools and one of the perennial issues at meetings was ‘ethos’ – what is it? How is it fostered? There was always skirting around the issue of spiritual and moral development out of embarrassment, lack of knowledge, views of the head etc…

    However, in the faith schools I also taught at, this was not an issue. The ethos was already there and the issue was how to bring it more fully into every aspect of school life.

    It would be nice if you would respond to my comments further up the thread on Peter Kellner’s assertions about Green voters of ‘no religion’ and Professor Woodhead’s research on the current UK religious landscape:

    http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/belief/2012/may/07/mind-body-spirit-dereformation-religion

    http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/belief/2012/feb/14/richard-dawkins-british-christianity

    As you must be a Green (judging by your pseudonym) – it would be interesting to know your opinion – it’s on topic too.

  • John Roffey 30th Oct '14 - 5:17pm

    @ GF

    “So, what gives? Does someone hold incriminating files on all the MPs? Did they all suddenly convert to latter-day Thatcherism just as everyone else though it was dead on its feet? As I say, I’m mystified.”

    Yes – it does seem a mystery. However, this section of NC’s Wikipedia entry should help to make clear where NC’s natural allegiances lie.

    “Clegg was born in 1967 in Chalfont St Giles in Buckinghamshire, the third of four children of Nicholas Peter Clegg, CBE, chairman of United Trust Bank and a former trustee of the Daiwa Anglo-Japanese Foundation (where Ken Clarke was an adviser).”

    He is essentially a Tory , but joined the Lib/Dems for reasons that are not entirely clear. Given the chance [the coalition] he has re -created the Party in his own image! The Party’s MPs response to this does imply that some threat or other has convinced them to be obedient and, apart from an ever decreasing number, approach the GE – like lambs to the slaughter!

  • Stephen Campbell 30th Oct ’14 – 3:13pm

    Stephen, that is very kind of you.
    I started to support the Liberal Party in the late 1960s. It was a different world. In this country Enoch Powell and Powellism were dominating the news; Liberals and in particular Young Liberals were the only people standing up to this growing racism in politics. The Labour Government of the time was very right wing and pandering to the racists and supporting the Apartheid regime, failing to take action on Rhodesia. Stopping the apartheid cricket tours, The AAM and CND were a crucial part of my teenage years.
    My contemporaries in the USA were either involved in the Civil Rights struggle following the murder of Dr King or they were being called up to fight and in many cases die in Vietnam. My contemporaries in South Africa were being exiled, imprisoned or worse. My first wife was given a one way ticket by the South African police when they raided the offices of Defense and Aid where she did voluntary work providing support for black defendants in court cases. My contemporaries in Northern Ireland were initially taking part in their Civil Rights Movement, some would join the IRA.

    In Europe the excitement and promise of 1968 in Paris was as tangible as the sense of bitter disappointment at the invasion of Czechoslovakia by Soviet tanks. A united democratic Europe which was dominated by neither Washington nor Moscow and would save us from the type wars our parents and grandparents had endured — it was a great opportunity. The idea of freedom of movement seemed like a impossible dream then, now it is a reality although one under threat from UKIP and their Conservative friends. Coming from a working class background the need for a fundamental change in our society to break down the heirarchies of the privileged seemed so obviously the right thing to do. The Liberal Party was the only home for people like me.
    These were the issues that got me involved in politics, fundamentally Liberal issues.

    So maybe I am just an old man stuck in the habit of being a Liberal. This party has been the only natural home for me until a small group of Thatcherite conspirators stole my party.
    Having been attacked in LDV in the last few days by someone accusing me of knowing nothing about Africa and who tolerates racism has been a bit odd, (especially when his own knowledge of the subject seemed to be so obviously flawed). Perhaps that is the sort of atmosphere that the Clegg has created in the party. Maybe I would be happier with the idealists in the Green Party.

    If Clegg and his ilk continue to destroy the Liberal Democrats maybe the Greens will be the only place left for people like me.

  • Bill le Breton 30th Oct '14 - 6:47pm

    John, the air is not fit to breathe in Green Land. True, it is pretty low in oxygen where we are now. Here is folly, but there is pure asphyxiating authoritarianism.

  • David Allen 30th Oct '14 - 7:42pm

    Stephen Hesketh said: “I don’t mind admitting that if I didn’t live in a constituency with a good Lib Dem MP I would be feeling tempted” (to go Green).

    I confess to voting Lib Dem in the Euro elections for that reason. It’s a confession, because I was doing what I so often criticise my local colleagues for – Being denialist about the way this party has degenerated and transformed into the very opposite of what it used to be. Well, I won’t be voting Lib Dem again in 2015.

    The Clegg Coupists have won. They did not, of course, deserve to win. Clegg originally got elected leader by concealing his real political agenda. Then he manoevered into an alliance with the Conservatives which he presented as an expedient fling, but was actually intended as a marriage. Then he drove away half his members and voters in order to even up the balance between soft Tories and real Liberal Democrats within his party. Even that would not have won the day, were it not for the support of the pragmatic careerists at national level who wanted to take the Tory shilling, coupled with the council careerists at local level who did not want to rock the leader’s boat. All these measures meant that Libdem Fightback (which I joined) could only muster some 30-40% support in its internal campaign last summer. Amongst the members of ten years ago it would have been more like 80%. No matter. Coup won. Game over.

    We now have to face the facts. If we want a real liberal movement for social justice and action on climate change to emerge, we need to see the Liberal Democrats disintegrate. A Cleggite rump in Parliament will only prop up conservatism and slow down a vitally necessary liberal revival. We should stop talking about supporting individual Lib Dem MPs, however good some of them might be. If they put “Lib Dem” on their ballot papers, they are now the enemies of progress.

  • paul barker 30th Oct '14 - 8:36pm

    Sorry to wander off-topic but has anyone noticed that The Labour Party is tearing itself apart ? The Greens will take some of Labours current Vote share but we can take a bigger chunk. As usual I advise LDV readers to check out Labour sites like Labour List, Progress & Labour Uncut. Plus Dan Hodges may have something to say tomorow.

  • “…has anyone noticed that The Labour Party is tearing itself apart ? The Greens will take some of Labours current Vote share but we can take a bigger chunk.”

    Yes we noticed.

    You won’t take a bigger “chunk.” Labour is losing vote to the Greens, and to apathy. But the biggest threat is dear old, friend of the working class, UKIP. Watch for tomorrow’s result in South Yorkshire.

    See you tomorrow… 🙂

  • Stephen Hesketh 30th Oct '14 - 9:22pm

    @paul barker 30th Oct ’14 – 8:36pm

    Paul, re Labour tearing themselves apart, I sincerely hope they do. I think the British left and our party structures are buckling as ‘we’ seek to accommodate continuing Thatcherite economics and rampant centralisation at home and ever more powerful international corporatism at home and abroad.

    At the same time, these forces of privilege and the right have effectively integrated the acceptance of the great and growing disparity in wealth and power into the everyday thinking of our society and, it would appear, in to the thinking of the career politicians who manage our political parties.

    Had we not had such a public Westminster centre-right love-in and been so supportive of Tory policies for most of this Parliament, we may indeed have been in a position to capitalise on Labour’s problems but as things have turned out, I can’t imagine many ‘libertarian socialist/labour’ types being willing to turn to the Liberal Democrat fold anytime soon. We are now seen to be part of the problem rather than its solution.

  • Richard Church 30th Oct '14 - 11:46pm

    Helen,

    There’s a quote in the bible on the lines of you should see the log in your own eye before picking out the splinter in others. I think its one you need to read.

    The 2011 census showed that those ticking the ‘no religion’ box was up to 25%, nearly 10% up on 10 years previously. An extraordinary change in 10 years. No, those people are not all atheists, nor even agnostics. But they are not Christians, Muslims, Buddhists or Hindu either. They should be treated with the respect they deserve from answering that question, and they are clearly saying that they do not want to be pigeonholed by people who are desperate to defend continuing religious privelege in this country. That is what you are doing, and you misrepresent those who challenge you.

  • I enjoy Helen Tadcastle’s take, for my tastes she’s perhaps a little too defensive of the rights and priviliges the religious seem to assume are theirs, but.. I do think there are lazy assumptions about non-regular adherents such as that made by Kellner. The use of the phrase ‘people of all religions and none’ for example. And Helen is correct that individuals are more sophisticated than tick box surveys permit. I would probably say ‘none’ to a survey but when if pressed I would
    confess to latent sympathies for the Unitarians or Society of Friends, and I think there is a real crossover between buddhist thinkings and people in the UK. I don’t think this supports the term ‘atheist’.

  • David Allen, you’re going to find your new friends in the Green Party are a mixed bunch as well. The last Green member-activist I dealt with was trying to tell me that ebola is a good thing because it reduces the population and hence consumption, and that the biggest problem with the Liberal Democrats is that we wouldn’t suspend the democratic process to ensure that what needs to be done for the environment isn’t derailed.

    An interesting bunch, but I could never support a party which seems to be so relaxed about such misanthropic views.

  • Richard Church 31st Oct '14 - 7:09am

    Helen,
    I have now read both the articles you refer to. http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/belief/2012/feb/14/richard-dawkins-british-christianity refers to how many of those who call themselves Christian do so because of a set of moral values they aspire to, and to a tribal affiliation to the culture in which they live, not to belief in a christian god. The article confuses secularism with non-religious belief, assuming that religion and secularism are at opposite polls, while making the unsurprising claim that many people are a mix of religious values and secular ones. There are plenty of people in our own party that call themselves secular Christians and secular Muslims, so that is hardly a surprise to us. Secularism is after all simply a desire to end religious privelege, the writer would have done much better to compare humanist values with religious ones.

    http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/belief/2012/may/07/mind-body-spirit-dereformation-religion talks throughout of the decline in influence of organised religion in people’s lives. It talks of how people want to work things out for themselves, not to be preached at by organised religion with its old fashioned dogmas. It presents an excellent argument for ending the priveleged role of just such declining religious institutions in our state education. People want comparative teaching about religion. It no surprise that these very institutions which the article describes in a state of ‘de-reformation’ are so desperate to cling on by their fingertips to the one aspect of people’s lives over which they still have some hold, childrens education.

  • Helen Tedcastle 31st Oct '14 - 10:49am

    Richard Church
    ‘ The article confuses secularism with non-religious belief, assuming that religion and secularism are at opposite polls.’ Professor Woodhead selects the term ‘secular’ because that is how Richard Dawkins describes himself. he does not self-define as a humanist for instance. The article is a direct response to his claims about Christianity. You may well be right that a few people call themselves secular-Christians but Dawkins does not.

    I wonder whether Professor Woodhead has really exposed the assumptions of writers like Dawkins about what Christians ‘ought to be like’ and ‘should be doing.’ Of course, his views are at odds with the reality of people’s daily lives and sensibilities.

    On the second article. Professor Woodhead is describing the changing landscape of British religion and indeed, more people are ‘spiritual-shoppers’ and take on multiple religious identities ie: Christian-Buddhist, Hindu-Christian than in a previous generation. However, this is not an argument for ending faith schools. The assumption seems to be that these people are anti-religious schools – they’re not. They’re differently religious not non-religious. Religious ‘privilege’ as you put it – or I would put it as freedom – was hard-won – in the cases of Jews and Catholics after centuries of oppression.

    After a century of tolerance, why do you want to take their freedom to serve the community away?

  • Helen Tedcastle 31st Oct '14 - 11:36am

    John Mc
    ‘… individuals are more sophisticated than tick box surveys permit.’

    Yes, which is why we have to be vigilant about reading too much into simplistic opinion polls like this one on complex questions of ‘religion.’

    ‘ I think there is a real crossover between buddhist thinkings and people in the UK. I don’t think this supports the term ‘atheist’.’

    Again yes. The religious landscape in the UK is more diverse and people are more ready to explore ideas in other religions and in many cases, make them their own. Multiple-religious identity is a reality, so assuming all those of no ‘fixed’ religion or more precisely, denomination are all ‘atheist’ hides what is really happening on the ground.

    Also, there are still very strong cultural factors at play when people describe themselves as for example, ‘Christian-Buddhist’ or’ Hindu-Christian’ tied in with their own heritage and experiences. I know people for example, who attend both temple and church events and mix quite happily in both.

  • Not a Lib Dem anymore myself, I left over the tuition fee debarcle but as someone who campaigned on the doorstep for the Lib Dems in 2010, I voted Labour in 2010 because the Lib Dems had absolutely no chance in my constituency but had a great chance in the constituency I was canvassing.

    So the 2010 vote figure is a bit of a proxy, not really a definative figure.

  • “In all honesty though, we should win most of this Green vote come election day – the Green ‘surge’ was artificially created by the media in the aftermath of the European elections”

    I think you’re sorely mistaken there. Another Angry Voice provides a pretty good analysis here – http://anotherangryvoice.blogspot.co.uk/2014/05/green-party-best-policies.html

  • Also, just imagine what trouble the Lib Dems would be in had we had a progressive left wing party appear as popular as Podemos in Spain.
    https://www.opendemocracy.net/can-europe-make-it/cristina-flesher-fominaya/%E2%80%9Cspain-is-different%E2%80%9D-podemos-and-15m

  • David Allen 31st Oct '14 - 3:27pm

    T-J, you’ve invented for yourself the idea that I now support the Greens, which is a bad start. I think they and Labour are now both lesser evils than the Clegg Lib Dems, but that’s about all.

    You continue – as lots of people seem to do – by attacking “the last Green member-activist I dealt with” and inventing some crazy views about why ebola is a good thing.

    Why do so many people use this line of attack against “one individual unnamed Green person”, as if it was reasonable to tar the whole party with the same brush that way? Sounds like a Lynton Crosby type of operation to me – or do the Lib Dem “professionals” now do that sort of thing too?

  • Ok, I admit that I lumped you in with a few other former LibDems turned Green members, apologies for that if you are now unattached.

    But I can assure you that I did not invent any of my interactions with the Green Party in general. Naming names seems petty and I will not point the finger at particular activists operating around where I am in Edinburgh, partly because I do have to share a pub with some of them. But I will say that the point about democracy comes from one Caroline Lucas, who is in the public eye already and in any case doesn’t frequent my local, while speaking to an event with the University of Edinburgh a year or two before the 2010 general election. I’m sorry I can’t be more specific, but I was trying to complete an undergraduate degree at the time and didn’t keep complete records.

    Now, I grant you, it might be unfair to tar all Green Party activists with the brush used on Lucas, but hey, we Liberal Democrats are going to go through another election being tarred with the Cleggbrush and ‘its not fair’ won’t help us out, so I don’t see why it should help them.

    I would also ask you to forgive my hostility, and to understand that my opinion is coloured by experiences during the Scottish referendum that were not entirely pleasant. Without going too far into more allegations against anonymous unknown activists, it wasn’t fun and wasn’t what I expected of a progressive political force that was telling me that it was my natural home.

  • David Allen 31st Oct '14 - 4:25pm

    T-J, a proven atrocity story about Caroline Lucas wanting to “suspend democracy” would of course reflect very badly on the Greens, if true. So I have tried hard, and failed, to find evidence by Googling. Granted, some greenish people such as James Lovelock have mooted such ideas – but they don’t represent the Green Party (and for all I know, they may be talking about an apocalyptic situation when climate change has caused some sort of global disaster and anarchy prevails). However, in the only relevant link I can find, Lucas declares very clearly that it would be wrong to suspend democracy.

    http://thethirdestate.net/2009/09/an-interview-with-caroline-lucas/

    So I’m sorry, making allegations based on an unreported speech from years back won’t do. I’m afraid I think you still qualify for the Lynton Crosby Award for dishonest campaigning.

  • Adam 31st Oct ’14 – 12:06pm
    Another Angry Voice provides a pretty good analysis here –
    http://anotherangryvoice.blogspot.co.uk/2014/05/green-party-best-policies.html

    Adam, Thanks for this link. The analysis is need first class. The behaviour of the media, especially the BBC is a disgrace in a democracy. The BBC is funded from public money and is supposed to be free from bias. But it lamely follows the Murdoch pack.
    For years Liberals have suffered from BBC bias but that is as nothing to the media blackout of the Green Party. Contrast and compare to the BBC fascination with UKIP in recent years, and before that their fascination with the BNP and the EDL.

  • The Greens are an anti-science party. Their policies include an immediate ban on all use of animals in testing and research. Goodbye UK Life Science. They cherry pick evidence – accepting the scientific consensus over climate change, but rejecting the evidence relating to GM crops.

    Then there’s their policy of requiring the NHS to fund ‘complementary’ therapies such as homeopathy (aka magic water) on the same basis as real medicine.

    Their authoritarianism is evident in their long list of things to be banned and their support for the Nordic model of regulating prostitution.

    In the one local authority they control, they imposed ‘meat free Monday’ in council catering outlets resulting in staff revolt. Recycling levels in Brighton have fallen by 16% since they took control.

  • David Allen 31st Oct '14 - 8:15pm

    ColinW posts an impressive list of evil things the Greens are supposed to support, without evidencing his assertions. So let’s work through it:

    ColinW: “The Greens are an anti-science party. Their policies include an immediate ban on all use of animals in testing and research.”

    That’s a great big overclaim. Copied from the Green animal protection manifesto:

    “Greens want to see an end to all animal experimentation and will call for an EU strategy that ensures research funding is directed away from failing animal-disease models and towards modern human-biology-based techniques, which offer greater opportunities to cure disease and improve product safety.
    Greens will support any actions that reduce animal experiments. In particular immediate action must be taken to:
    stop non-medical experiments…”

    So, they do NOT demand an “immediate ban” on medical research on animals!

    ColinW: “They cherry pick evidence – accepting the scientific consensus over climate change, but rejecting the evidence relating to GM crops.”

    Well, what does ColinW think that evidence is? That no GM crops pose any dangers whatsoever? NB, what the Greens call for is a “moratorium”. Whether or not one agrees, it doesn’t sound as if their minds are closed to evidence.

    ColinW: “Then there’s their policy of requiring the NHS to fund ‘complementary’ therapies such as homeopathy (aka magic water) on the same basis as real medicine.”

    Well, here’s the quote from the Green website:

    “Over the last three conferences, we’ve changed party policy that stated homeopathy would not have to comply with the same kinds of regulations and testing that other products that claimed to have medical benefits did.”

    So, yes they sound a bit wobbly, but what ColinW says is totally unfair. Especially since homeopathy IS still funded on the NHS, under our wonderful Coalition!

    ColinW: “Their authoritarianism is evident in … their support for the Nordic model of regulating prostitution.”

    Er, that’s authoritarian, is it?

    ColinW: “In the one local authority they control, they…(went so terribly far as to have one meat-free day each week in Council catering)”.

    Can’t eat a burger all seven days a week. Diddums. Doesn’t sound like wild extremism to me.

    Disclaimer: I’m not a Green and I don’t agree with everything they say. But this sort of crude hatchet job simply discredits the Liberal Democrats.

  • Sorry, David, I thought I was responding to anecdotes of your experience of LibDem internal politicking with anecdotes of my experience of the Greens. Having been mistaken, I will be sure to limit any further exchange between us to strictly factual, referenced points of information.

  • Helen Tedcastle 1st Nov '14 - 1:03pm

    Richard Church
    ‘ …and they are clearly saying that they do not want to be pigeonholed by people who are desperate to defend continuing religious privelege in this country. That is what you are doing, and you misrepresent those who challenge you.’

    On the contrary. I’m merely pointing out that it is the Kellner analysis that is fact pigeon-holing those intended- Green voters by labelling them as ‘atheist,’ when they just ticked a box termed ‘no religion.’ No one can simply guess that those who do so are either hostile or indifferent to religion, or even not religious/spiritual, because research shows that more people self-identify in very diverse ways – often taking on multiple identities without belonging exclusively to a traditional institution.

    The picture is so diverse that no group or organisation, including the BHA or NSS, can claim to speak for them or assume they are their tacit supporters, to drive those groups agendas.

  • Matt (Bristol) 3rd Nov '14 - 12:43am

    I don’t vote green but they would be one of the parties I would more seriously consider voting for were the LibDems to be excised from reality.

    As I have said before on here, many people I know and family members now vote for them and are not intending to go back. I think this is in part because they are often people whose views were formed in the 80s and 90s and saw the LibDems as a party of opposition to the conservatives and cannot square this with participation in the current government.

    I don’t think many Green voters are that coherent about environmental policy. But consistently, they do want to see the political system of this country change, and significantly so, and they distrust money-men, and professional politicians. The rumours about the draft manifesto’s tone and priorities do not hold out hope for striking this sort of note.

    In Bristol, the Green rise in votes (though not the strongest in the country) seems to have given rise to ad hominen attacks from the local party leadership against the prominent Greens. This, too, is not the best way to carry on; it just looks like childish spite.

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