The Green Party suffered a setback in the U.K. general election as its best prospect to win a second seat in the House Commons, Darren Hall, failed to take Bristol West.
It means Caroline Lucas, who successfully defended her Brighton Pavilion seat, remains Britain’s only Green lawmaker after the party failed to capitalize on polls that at the start of the year put support as high as 11 percent nationally.
Hall took 26.8 percent of the vote in Bristol West, losing out to Labour candidate Thangam Debbonaire in a three-way battle for the seat. Debbonaire won 35.7 percent and incumbent Liberal Democrat Stephen Williams, a junior minister in Prime Minister David Cameron’s Conservative-led government, got 18.8 percent.
A win looked unlikely for Hall when less than two weeks before election day a poll by former Conservative lawmaker Michael Ashcroft showed the Greens 12 percentage points behind Labour. Even so, party leader Natalie Bennett visited the constituency three times in the past fortnight as the Greens poured in campaign resources in an effort to duplicate the result in Brighton in 2010, when Lucas became their first lawmaker.
The Greens had identified Bristol West as their best chance of adding a lawmaker after winning five of the 18 seats on Bristol City Council in the constituency since the 2010 general election, when it took just 3.8 percent of the vote in the district.
In Brighton, Lucas won by an 7,967-vote margin over the Labour Party, which had targeted the seat. She took 41.8 percent of the vote, a swing to the Greens of 10.5 percent since 2010.
“Amid the most savage, targeted austerity cuts in modern history, and with parties set on wringing every last drop of oil from the North Sea even as climate change accelerates, the urgency of a strong, clear Green voice in Parliament has never been greater,” Lucas said in a statement. “We will hold Parliament to account and push for real reform -– starting with proportional representation, for a politics that looks far more like the people it’s supposed to represent.”