Opinion polls have shown a jump in support for the Liberal Democrats following the boost given to them by giving leader Nick Clegg equal treatment in the televised debates while excluding smaller parties such as the Greens. But will this translate into votes on 6 May?
In Norwich South, one of the Green Party’s target seats for the current election, the answer seems to be no – judging by the number of former Lib Dem politicians who are supporting Green candidate and party deputy leader, Adrian Ramsay.
The number of former Norwich Lib Dem councillors who’ve switched their support to Adrian Ramsay’s Green Party campaign is a clear indication of the way Lib Dem support in Norwich South has declined since the last general election, says Norwich Green Party, which now holds more seats on the city council than the Lib Dems and the Conservatives combined.
Over the past few months, no fewer than six former Liberal Democrat councillors have decided to support the Greens. One of them is Paul McAlenan, who says:
“There are plenty of parts of the country where the Lib Dems can expect to gain seats this time. Norwich South is different. The Lib Dem support here has collapsed since the last general election. They have lost most of the council seats they held then. Here in Norwich South we can make a real national impact by voting Green."
Paul McAlenan continues:
“The Green Party is ahead in the constituency on local and European election votes. There are lots of Green posters around the streets of Norwich. The Green Party is the best option for beating Charles Clarke.
“We need Greens in parliament and Norwich South is one of the best prospects for achieving that. That’s why there are six former Lib Dem councillors backing Adrian. He is the strongest candidate and voting Green is the best way to have a national impact”.
Lib Dems lose more than half council seats – while Greens win more
Just before the 2005 local elections, the Lib Dems held 19 district council seats in the area covering the Norwich South constituency. Now they have just eight. By contrast, people in Norwich South keep on voting for the Green Party which has added eight more district council seats over the same period, to a total of 13.
In the 2009 local elections, the Greens topped the poll in Norwich South with 34% of the vote. The Lib Dems gained 25%. If people vote the same way on May 6th as they have been voting in local elections and in last year’s European election, Adrian Ramsay will definitely be elected, say the Greens.
Adrian Ramsay, who resigned his post as leader of the opposition on Norwich City Council to concentrate on his Norwich South candidacy and his crucial role as deputy leader of the Green Party, commented today:
“We have been welcoming more and more support from former Lib Dem and Labour councillors. They want a fresh voice for Norwich and I’m pleased to have their help in my campaign to defeat Charles Clarke and get a Green MP for Norwich South. I know that many people who’ve become dissatisfied with the direction that politics has taken are finding a new home in the Green Party.”
Former Norwich Lib Dem councillors giving support are Paul McAlenan, Sarah Mitchell, Vicky Hopkins, Simon Richardson, Billy Boulton and Dawn Castle-Green. All six live in the Norwich South constituency.
And it isn’t just incumbent Labour MP Charles Clarke who has been warning about Labour defeats, say the Greens. Dr Ian Gibson, former MP for Norwich North, said recently: "The Green Party are developing, they know they’ve got a lot of support and the other parties better take notice because they work hard, they are young and they are keen. I’ve no doubt that Norwich could fall to them in the future."