• More and more disaffected Lib Dems are moving over to the Green Party
• Greens polling neck and neck with Lib Dems
• Green Party membership over 20,000 for first time, up 45% in 2014
• Greens standing in at least 75% of constituencies at the 2015 General Election – 50% more than 2014
Cllr Andrew Baldrey has today become the latest in a long line of Liberal Democrat elected representatives to move over to the Green Party, which is polling neck and neck with the Coalition partners ahead of the 2015 General Election.
Increasing numbers of Lib Dem elected representatives are taking the decision to switch to the Greens ahead of next May's elections. Green Party membership is up 45% in 2014 alone and the Party is polling at 7% and above.
Baldrey, currently councillor for the St Marys with Summercombe ward of Torbay Borough Council, has now officially resigned from the Liberal Democrats and joined the Green Party. He has put his name forward to stand as the Green candidate in Ashburton & Buckfastleigh ward of Teignbridge District Council in next year's local elections.
Explaining his decision, Baldrey said:
"At a time when it appears possible that politics nationally may be taking on a more diverse nature than the previous see-saw two party arrangement I have chosen now to 'go Green' to help to raise the profile of the Green Party as a credible responsible political party which has a fully developed range of policies [including a firm line on national infrastructure such as the rail network], in addition to the necessary emphasis on developing alternative energy sources more quickly than has been the case until now."
Baldrey is far from alone alone in his decision to depart the Lib Dem party and go Green.
Councillor Jean Hamilton, who joined the Green Party and Green Group on Solihull Council in February 2014 after serving as a Liberal Democrat Councillor for seven years, today explained her reasons for making the switch:
"Rather than putting the brakes on or moderating the Conservative vision, the Liberal Democrats in Coalition have enabled their partners to implement some of the most radical, right wing policies – the sort of which even Margaret Thatcher wouldn't have even begun to dream of.
"The Lib Dems gave a clear signal to the Conservatives of their willingness to be a subservient partners when they didn't abstain on tuition fees at the outset of the coalition government (which the Conservatives expected and would have understood them doing) but voted instead in favour. From then on in they gave the Conservatives a mandate to carry through a top down restructuring of the NHS – not even in the Tory manifesto – and a full-frontal attack on welfare and public services.
"The Lib Dems in Coalition – the Lib Dem party I joined – would never have signed up to any of this. Power of being in government seems to have gone to their heads. George Orwell's Animal Farm springs to my mind.
"As someone who came into the Lib Dems to start with from a social democrat background I could no longer support their policies on the doorstep.
"I joined the Green Party because they are the only party really talking about what is actually happening to the NHS. Only Greens are tackling the problems that the selling-off of our health service are causing.
"The Green Party is not afraid to be bold and challenging, unlike the other main parties who now sound pretty much all the same and whose manifestos seem to be shaped purely to garner the most votes rather than deliver real change for the common good."
Cllr Andy Hodgson (Shirley South) moved from the Lib Dems to the Greens in 2012. Hodgson echoed Hamilton's disappointment with how the Lib Dems have operated in power:
"When the coalition government was established with the Conservatives I was concerned that the party would have to concede a great deal. I had not anticipated the massive shift away from the parties' core values regarding tuition fees, protection of the NHS and supporting the fairness and equality agenda."