Green Party in the UK


Despite the fact that the UK’s Green Party was the first of its kind in Europe, it did not share the success of Green politics elsewhere in Europe, especially Germany. This can be partly attributed to the country’s first past the post election system but it can partly also be attributed to the mainstream political parties becoming more susceptible for environmental concerns.

Foundation of the UK’s Green Party

The UK’s Green Party was founded by a small group called the ‘Club of Thirteen’ in 1973. Among the members of the latter were Freda Sanders, Michael Benfield, and Lesley and Tony Whittaker. Many from the Club were having second thoughts about creating a political party. As a result, the mentioned group of four decided to establish the Green Party (under the name PEOPLE) on their own.

Contest at the 1974 General Election

The Europe’s first Green Party was soon joined by Edward Goldsmith’s Movement for Survival, while Goldsmith established himself as one of the most prominent members of the Party. The membership began to rise and in 1974, the Party took part of the competition for the General Election. At the February General Election, the PEOPLE was quite successful but its average vote fell to 0.7% at the October General Election, probably due to a disproportionate increase of left-wing membership. According to Derek Wall who wrote history of the Party at its 21st anniversary, the UK’s Greens also lacked the attention of the media and spent too much of its resources on environmental movement that had little effect.

The Ecology Party 1975-1985

In 1975, the leaders of PEOPLE decided to rename the Party as the Ecology Party in order to improve the Party’s recognition among the voters. Besides a new name, the Party also got new leadership. At the 1979 General Election, the Ecology Party received an average vote of 1.5% and increased membership from 500 to 5,000. By the late 1970s, the Ecology Party became the UK’s fourth largest party. It did not, however, manage to get a seat in the Parliament.

The Green Party

In 1985, the Ecology Party was renamed as the Green Party. The 1980s were a tough time for the UK’s Greens although they grew electorally and finally started to receive more attention by the media. The greatest success came in 1989 when the Green Party received 15% of all votes for the EU Parliament. During this period, the Party also increased its political influence at home and got its first representative in the House of Lords (George MacLeod, Baron MacLeod of Fuinary).


In 1990, the Green Party split into: