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.
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 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.
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 they’ll never get in power and so can say whatever they want.