I hope that you have all had an enjoyable and restful festive break, and that you are feeling fully charged for the coming few months!
I probably don’t need to remind you how brilliant 2014 has been for us as a party. We have seen our membership explode nationally, but especially here in Bath, where we have more than tripled our membership over the last twelve months. We are the fastest growing political party in England and Wales and the second fastest growing in Scotland, and the media is finding it harder than ever to ignore us. This is so important, not only for increasing our membership, but to spread our message to people who have not had a chance to hear it before.
There’s a real feeling of momentum both in the growth of the party and in what we can achieve, as demonstrated by the election of our first Green MEP in the South West, Molly Scott Cato. The European Election saw us gain around 20% of the vote in Bath - a massive increase, and one that we should all take as a hugely positive sign that people are beginning to look outside the big parties and consider the policies of smaller parties more carefully.
In Bath we are particularly lucky. Many people who have previously voted Lib Dem are feeling very let down, and parties holding seats almost always lose votes when their existing MP stands down. Many voters do not have a natural home in any of the other parties, and inexplicably they have stood candidates that will struggle to convince the public that they are seriously contesting the seat. We have a huge opportunity to come in and surprise everyone.
We know that our polices are the most popular of all of the parties, and they are resonating more strongly than ever before. The single most important thing that we can do is get our message out there. If people voted for policies and not parties we would win, and while that’s good to know, it shows how much work we still have to do.
I’m not going to pretend that the time from now until polling day is going to be easy. While our message is a positive one, the other parties are involved in an arms race of intolerance and austerity. We must assume that as they notice our growing success they will turn their attention to us. We will be ready for them with the politics of hope, tolerance, fairness and a willingness to work for a better future for us and our planet. Unlike the other parties we do not have millionaire donors or friends in the media to pay our way into people’s minds, but our message is so much stronger. We just need to make sure that we spread that message whenever we can. It is a message of hope, of change and of something different. People are ready for it.
I am hugely optimistic about what we can do in 2015, and I’d love as many of you to be involved as possible. Every single thing you can do to help us will be appreciated, whether you have time to volunteer to go canvassing, manning a stall, or you simply have a space where you can display a poster. We need to let the people of Bath know that we are here and that we mean business!
I wish you the very best for the New Year. Let’s do this!