THE BLOG

The Greens Need Better PR

13/05/2013 16:06 BST | Updated 12/07/2013 10:12 BST

Okay. Pop quiz time.

First question. Can you name the leaders of UKIP and the Green Party of England and Wales? I imagine you can name Nigel Farage fairly easily, but I doubt Natalie Bennett is the first name that springs to your mind. Now second question. Which of those two parties actually has an MP? The answer to that would be the Greens, who have held Brighton Pavilion since the 2010 election.

This raises a serious question. Considering that the best UKIP can claim is a some local councillors and a smattering of MEPs, while the Greens have councillors, two London Assembly Members, some MEPs and a Member of Parliament, how come Farage gets so much more coverage? You can barely turn on the TV nowadays without seeing Farage's face on your screen, while we're lucky to see Caroline Lucas (the Green Party's MP) once in a blue moon.

For starters this puts an end to any claims that the media - and especially the BBC - has any sort of liberal bias. If that was the case, then we would be seeing a lot more of the Greens (who are a left wing party after all) and a lot less of the party consisting of what Ken Clarke called "fruitcakes and clowns".

However, it can also be seen as a scathing indictment of the Greens' PR strategy, or rather lack of one.

For all their faults - and they have many - UKIP do a very good job of getting their message across and tapping into their core constituency of dissatisfied middle Englanders. And while they may once have been seen as a single issue party, they have recently done a very good job of developing and presenting a wider manifesto. The Greens, by contrast, haven't done and are still seen as the party of hippy liberal tree huggers, who put the environment before everything else and think homeopathy should be available on the NHS. It also doesn't help that recently all the major parties, have started to address environmental concerns in their manifestos, thereby competing with the Greens on the one point where they have the most expertise. It also doesn't help that while UKIP have benefited from a split in the right wing of the UK political spectrum, whatever their differences, the left has done a solid job of rallying around Labour, denying the Greens an opening.

One may be coming though. Come the election in 2015, there may be some left wing voters who, while desperate to remove the Tories, still don't trust Miliband with the keys to the kingdom. While previously these voters may have voted for the Lib Dems, their behaviour over the last three years in government has more or less ruled them out as a potential protest vote. This is where the Greens have a chance. If they can improve their PR and widen their message, then they may have a chance to pick up dissatisfied left wing voters who are unhappy with the parties on offer, in the same way that UKIP have been able to pick up dissatisfied right wingers.

The Greens have two years to get themselves noticed and to get their voice heard. They'd better get a move on.