Green voters are à la carte environmentalists

We’ll see if the party’s mainly middle-class, affluent supporters will sacrifice their SUVs and air travel to save the planet

DAVID QUINN June 2 2019, 12:01am, The Sunday Times

The Green Party vote in the local and European elections was one of the most overhyped yet. The real story of the election was the huge collapse in Sinn Fein’s vote. However, a misleading exit poll meant the elections were declared a big victory for the Greens. As a result, they were afforded enormous amounts of free and easy publicity with barely a hard question to be heard.

Some media outlets, including this one, did manage to keep their heads, warning that voter enthusiasm for the Green Party would cool down once the policies it promotes start hitting our wallets. But The Irish Times got carried away. Its editorial on Monday declared that the “clear message from the impressive showing . . . in the European and local elections is that voters are now ready for decisive action on climate change, and that includes carbon taxes”.

A columnist in the same paper on Wednesday was positively gushing. Referencing photos of smiling Green Party members that had appeared in the papers on Monday, she said it was “a day of lightness, kindness and goodwill, the feeling that permeates a happy wedding when everything seems possible”.

Well, someone needs to be Banquo’s ghost at this feast because, while the Green Party did well for a small organisation, this does not mean that the country has suddenly turned “green”.

In the local elections the party garnered 5.6% of the vote nationally, while in the European election it attracted 11.4%. So when The Irish Times says “voters are now ready for decisive action on climate change”, it forgot to add the important qualifying word “some”, as in “some voters” — a rather small minority, in fact, if you average out the two votes.