Parliament isn’t even in recess yet but already party conference season has begun.
Today, the Green party gathers in Sheffield for its annual get together. Why Sheffield? Possibly because it’s the (adopted) home city of Nick Clegg, whom Green leader Caroline Lucas intends to mock in her speech this afternoon, branding him “The minister for meeting angry people and getting shouted at”.
This is part of a concerted effort, it seems, to win over disaffected Lib Dem voters. She says to Lib Dem voters:
I have a special message for those of them who despair about the path their leadership has taken them down. If you became involved in politics to serve your local community, or to challenge the rich and powerful, or build a better future for the country, then join us.
It’s a canny pitch. The Greens have an obvious appeal to many Lib Dems, especially those concerned about the environment, and any anti-nuclear campaigners dismayed by Chris Huhne’s proposal of a carbon floor price, which would benefit nuclear energy companies.
The other natural voting group who might cross over is students, which is why it is no coincidence that today’s conference takes place at Sheffield Hallam university.
But if there is a natural cross over, it hasn’t helped the Greens so far. Although the Lib Dem vote has slumped since the election, support for the Greens remains stuck around 5 per cent.
Will coming to a city full of disaffected Lib Dems help? The number of former Lib Dem voters on the floor when proceedings start this morning might give us a clue…