Thursday, 22 May 2014

Green Party 'on track' for poll gains says Bennett

 Ms Bennett said it was getting a "fraction" of the media coverage devoted to UKIP.

The Green Party of England and Wales has said it is "on track" to make gains in Thursday's European elections.

Leader Natalie Bennett said opinion polls suggested the party could triple its number of MEPs from two to six and finish ahead of the Lib Dems.

She said voters "liked what they were hearing" from the party on the economy. It wants the wealthy to pay more tax and public spending to be increased.

The Greens have urged the UK to work "for the common good" within the EU.

The Greens back holding a referendum on EU membership but say they will campaign to stay in, arguing the UK benefits hugely by working with other nations on the environment and other issues.

Ms Bennett said opinion polls in the run-up to the elections - including the latest YouGov poll which put the party on 12%, ahead of the Lib Dems - showed that its message was resonating on doorsteps.

She told the BBC's World at One programme that the party had been "consistently polling" better than the Lib Dems and getting double-digit ratings "on a fraction of the media coverage" devoted to UKIP.
'Real change'

She said the economy was only "working for the 1%" at the top of society and people were responding to the party's call for major changes, such as the scrapping of student tuition fees and NHS prescription charges and an end to the privatisation of public services.

"It is very clear that people, when they hear our message, that we have to have real change in economy, society and politics... people are really getting that message and liking what they hear," she said.

"I stood for Green Party leader saying I was there to help to get lots more MEPs elected and I am pleased to say at the moment we are on track to do just that."

She accused the three largest political parties at Westminster of "pandering" to UKIP and leading a "race to the bottom" on their discourse on immigration.

UKIP had been allowed to "capture the agenda", she added, when the issues that most concerned people, such as access to housing and public services, were the fault of government policy not migrants.

Instead of extending the time that new migrants must wait before they can claim benefits to six months, as the government is doing, the Greens said new arrivals should be able to qualify immediately.

"Most people recognise that people have needs, children have needs and we need to meet those needs."

The party has set itself a target of tripling its representation in Brussels and hopes to break through outside its traditional heartlands in London and the south east of England.

The Greens have won two seats at each European election since they achieved their first representation in 1999. They won 8.6% of the vote in 2009, up 2.4% on 2005, polling more than 1.3 million votes.

In local elections in England, the Greens are fielding 1,865 candidates. They are seeking to take seats from the three largest parties in Westminster and become the main opposition on Solihull council.





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