London – 16.00 GMT The United Kingdom finally caught up with the rest of Europe last night when the voters of Brighton Pavilion in Sussex returned the first dedicated Green Member of Parliament.
Ms Lucas performance in the next parliament will be crucial to the wider accept-ance of Green politicians.
The UK is the only country in Europe to never have elected an MP standing exclusively on a green ticket. But last night, as expected, in the UK’s General Election, Caroline Lucas the UK Green party leader took the seaside seat from the ruling Labour party.
Ms Lucas gained 16,238 votes setting her comfortably ahead of her main rival Labour candidate Nancy Platts who polled just 14,986 votes. Ms Lucas said the historic result was a reflection of a new “politics of hope above the politics of fear”.
However MS Lucas isnt quite the UK’s first Green MP. From 1992 to 2000 Cynog Dafis was a Member of Parliament for the Welsh constituency of Ceredigion having been supported by a coalition of local Plaid Cymru (Welsh nationalists) and Green party activists.
Although she is just one member in a parliament with 651 seats, the fact that no party won an overall majority may well give her views disproportionate leverage. The main political parties are now competing to stitch together a coalition that will give them a majority in the House of Commons. Under the UK’s first-past-the-post voting system a party can form a government if it can claim a majority in the House Of Commons, even if it didn’t win the
majority of votes in the county at large.
The win follows a focused and determined campaign by the Greens to target the winnable Brighton seat. Although, they mounted their biggest-ever general election campaign with candidates in 335 constituencies across the country, yesterday they flooded Brighton with 200 volunteers who telephoned green supporters, persuading them to vote and even ferrying them to polling stations.
Lucas’ election has been greeted as a “game changer” for British politics. Even the right wing Daily Mail newspaper said her victory represents “a shift towards a more radical style of politics.”
Green commentator George Monbiot said it marks the Greens maturity as a political force. “Her victory reflects the transformation of the Greens from a chaotic, divided, messy party into a much tighter and more effective operation, which has been able to target its limited resources on winnable seats and tone down the identity politics which sometimes suggested that the party’s main purpose was self-expression.”
A CND activist in her youth and a campaigner against US weapons on British soil, privately- educated Miss Lucas has more recently been a leader of the Stop the War Coalition and is a member of the European Parliament.