The pick of the papers from the Political Studies Association conference in Ulster
Support for the Scottish Green Party has dropped by more than half since the heady days of 1990 when environmentalism was the word on everyone's lips, says Lynn Bennie of Aberdeen University.
Though support for environmental pressure groups remains high, politics lecturer Ms Bennie told the PSA conference that Green Party allegiance in Scotland had diminished at an alarming rate. "There seems to be a feeling that pressure groups can be more effective than the party," she said.
Following a survey in 1990, Ms Bennie has been tracking down past members. She said: "Members in the 1990 survey were distinctly highly educated and middle class. Over 80 per cent had studied or were studying for a degree. Twenty-seven per cent had postgraduate degrees." Ms Bennie believes the 1990 membership was made up of two key groups: those who remained long-term faithful to the party, and those who joined during the 1989/1990 height of popularity but did not appear to distinguish between environmental pressure groups and the Green Party.
"They appeared to see the Green Party as another environmental group. They were probably more inspired by global issues such as global warming and the greenhouse effect than the politics of the party. Among those members, there seems to be a feeling that pressure groups are able to be a little more radical.
"There is little immediate evidence of the party making a difference. This is partly to do with our electoral situation, where small parties like the Greens cannot make an impact. But also in Scotland, where we have four parties, the Greens seem to be squashed out."
* Research papers can be found through THESIS, the THES Internet service: http://thesis.newsint.co.uk newsint.co.uk