Every election seems to birth a certain media buzz phrase that anyone closely following the election results on the TV or radio will be tired of hearing by the early hours of the morning.
This year’s seems to be “a plague on both your houses” – a phrase used by journalists and commentators across the political spectrum to describe the English electorate’s feelings towards the two old, long-dominant political parties.
Greens across England are celebrating a phenomenal number of wins: 146 gains by 5.30pm yesterday, with more certain to follow. Some, like in Tonbridge and Exeter, are the result of years of incredibly hard work and precise campaigning. Some, as in Solihull, are clearly the result of voters having seen the incredible track record of sitting Green councillors and wanting more of them.
And some, like Melton Mowbray, were surprises – quite probably the result of a local population tiring of their complacent, tired longtime council representation and hungry for something different.
As our gains entered the hundreds and Labour and Conservatives losses roared into the masses, it truly began to sink in that the political climate is changing.
On a national scale, through botched Brexit negotiations, inaction on the environment and a lack of any opposition on Brexit, the Conservatives and Labour have become obsessed with internal manoeuvres and infighting.
Whilst this is a local election, we cannot underestimate how significant Brexit has been as a factor in people’s voting. The B-word has consumed our political space, and as people headed to the polls, many surely wanted to use their vote to send a message about what they want for Britain in our relationship with the EU.
The Green Party is now best placed to deliver for Remain voters in the European elections later this month. We had the largest number of MEPs of any pro-Remain Party in the last parliament, and are polling at the top of that field.
In these elections, we have shown that we have the on-the-ground organisation and momentum to win more – and deliver resounding rebuff to hard right and their Brexit plans.
The Greens were seen in 2015 as the anti-Ukip Party, the only party in England that stood loudly and proudly against its xenophobia and anti-migrant rhetoric.
We have consistently championed the value of EU free movement, a two-way street that offers Britons opportunities and experiences threatened by Brexit. Young people should not have fewer freedoms and opportunities than their parents, and loss of those opportunities would be a terrible loss for them.
We know that Britain has to change. The vote in 2016 was a cry of desperation, an expression of the frustration and anger being felt by so many. Our new local councillors will be working hard to tackle the deep-seated issues of environmental and social degradation in our communities.
And the Green Party nationally will continue to offer a message of hope: we can work together with peoples across Europe to tackle our problems, to make multinational companies pay their taxes and meet decent standards in environmental protections and workers rights.
We can change politics. The voters of England have shown that this week.
Jonathan Bartley is co-leader of the Green Party