Green Party of England and Wales
The Green Party of England and Wales was formed in 1973 as the Ecology Party. Its aims were initially solely environmental, but the party now has a broader platform of policies. It changed its name to the Green Party in the 1980s.
The party enjoyed a brief spell of success in the late 1980s. At the 1989 European Elections the Green Party won 2 million votes, and received 15% of the overall vote. Mainstream political parties, alarmed by this success, adopted some "Green policies" in an attempt to counter the threat.
However due to internal divisions over the direction of the party in the early 1990s, the green party fell out of the limelight and failed to maintain its electoral momentum. Due to this the party has not been able to repeat the successes it achieved in the 1980s, nor has it been able to match the success of Green parties in some other parts of Western Europe. Britain's first-past-the-post electoral system has often been blamed for this.
The Scottish wing of the party split to form the Scottish Green Party in 1996, which has members in the Scottish Parliament. The England and Wales wing of the party then adopted the current name. The has achieved some localised success, as is outlined below.
At the time of writing, the Green Party has not yet succeeded in returning Members of Parliament - which must win under first-past-the-post - but it has 63 local councillors elected - gaining 10 during the 2004 local elections. The recent introduction of proportional representation for European elections means that it has two elected Members of the European Parliament (MEPs), Dr Caroline Lucas (South East England; ) and Jean Lambert (London; ). They retained their seats in the 2004 European elections, despite a reduction in number of seats available.
Also elected by proportional representation is the London Assembly; it has two Green Party members, out of 25. These are Darren Johnson and Jenny Jones. The Green Party of England and Wales has one member of the (unelected) House of Lords, the Upper Chamber of Parliament, Lord Beaumont of Whitley.
The Green Party has been careful not to have a "leader"; its organization provides for two Principal Speakers. In 2004 the death of Mike Woodin left Caroline Lucas the surviving Principal Speaker until filling the vacancy.