If the pattern of nominations in the local elections this year suggests that Ukip may be on the brink of transformation into a south east English regionalist party, what does the geography of Green Party candidates tell us?
There is one overlap with Ukip, in that the local councils where Greens are most active are the metropolitan boroughs of the West Midlands, Merseyside, Greater Manchester and West Yorkshire. To some extent this is a result of the electoral set-up. All the wards in those councils return one councillor every year, rather than three councillors every four years. In many rural district councils two and three seat wards allow a party to put forward just one candidate and still have a presence even though contesting only a third of the seats. And annual elections may also stimulate better party organisation and more member involvement.
The Greens’ other area of strength lies in a belt across middle England, from Gloucestershire in the west, through Oxfordshire to Suffolk in the east, with outliers of greater activity in Devon and Dorset in the south-west and East Sussex in the south-east. What is noticeable in these local election nominations is that in many south-western rural wards there’s a straight fight between Tories and Greens, as the Liberal Democrat presence fades.
Indeed, the Greens have managed to put up more candidates than have the Lib Dems in all the metropolitan boroughs and in several rural counties, as the map below indicates. With the exception of Suffolk, these areas are in the more peripheral west and north of England.