Read welcomes “Green Surge”

Olly Hudson 6 February 2015

The Cambridge Green Party has this week announced that its membership has risen above 400, four-times the figure this time last year. 

Having recently announced that it plans to field candidates in each of the 14 contested wards in this May’s local elections to the City Council, the local Greens are enjoying an unprecedented surge in membership.

Gaining 131 new members in January alone, this welcome news for the local Greens follows a recent national swing towards the party, who have seen support rise to a record level of 10% in national opinion polls. 

Welcoming the news, Green Party parliamentary candidate for Cambridge, Rupert Read, noted: “this is an ever faster rate of increase than the Green surge nationally.”

Nonetheless, Dr Read has himself been the subject of heated controversy in recent weeks, after The Cambridge Student reported accusations of supposed transphobia during a Twitter exchange. On a more troubling note for the local party, students from the University of Cambridge organised an event on Saturday, titled, “Letters: For Greens Against Transmisogyny”, where Green supporters drafted letters calling for Read’s de-selection as parliamentary candidate. 

Event co-organisers, Zoe Higgins and Jennifer Green branded Read’s comments “disgusting”, calling on student Green supporters to “Join us in writing as many letters as humanly possible to Green Party HQ, expressing our anger and concern at their candidate’s opinions and asking them to withdraw their support from Rupert Read.” 

In a response to one student’s letter, Cambridge Green Party echoed concerns voiced by party-leader, Natalie Bennett, surrounding their candidate’s comments, though urged caution on calls for Read to stand down: “It has been important for us in the committee to get to the bottom of what Rupert has said and understand what he really thinks about these issues”, adding: “We did not want to act rashly or without proper discussion within the committee and the membership.”

The local party will likely welcome news of continued rising membership after the student-backlash against Rupert Read threatened to jeopardise their election hopes. 

Further indication that Cambridge is set to revert to multi-party politics has also been given by UKIP local Chairman, Martin Hale who told The Cambridge Student: “Currently we have UKIP candidates that will be standing in 50% of the city wards”, adding: “Our branch membership for Cambridge and South East Cambridge has also increased rapidly in the past 8 weeks.”