Progressive Alliance: 'Why are we standing?'

11 May 2017

The Green Party has been the political party most committed to the idea of a "progressive alliance".  We organised a public meeting on the topic in February in Taunton.  At that meeting that the Labour speaker was not unsympathetic to the idea but felt that Labour was by policy and even by constitution committed to running their own candidates everywhere they can find one to field.  Although one or two of the Lib Dem speakers were not unsympathetic to the idea there was certainly no clear support for it from their featured speaker, and PPC, Gideon Amos.  So there was not much enthusiasm from Labour or the Lib Dems locally.

It is also the case that the Green Party policy is aimed at coming to arrangements in "a handful of seats" - ones where the 2015 result was very close, where there is a non-mainstream candidate standing with a real chance, etc.  No one from the regional or national Green Parties has suggested to us locally that we are a seat where they think we should be standing aside.

There are a number of other factors that also militate against such an arrangement locally:Overtures to the Lib Dem group on Somerset County Council about a deal along some sort of "progressive alliance" lines for the May 4th SCC elections were rejected, even though some independents and Labour councillors were keen on the idea.

  • Labour are going to stand locally anyway which puts the Greens in an awkward position.
  • A few Green Party members and supporters have been saying we should not stand and should instead support a progressive alliance candidate.  But a greater number of members said we should stand our own candidate.  The decision to run a candidate was unanimous.
  • I think the chances of Gideon Amos winning because of "tactical voting" are very slim.  I cannot see Gideon Amos overturning the Conservative Rebecca Pow's 15,500 majority, even if he had the minor benefit of the local Green Party not opposing him. I am actually reinforced in my views by the outcome of the County Council elections the other day.  The Lib Dems lost seats and the Tories gained them.  It's true that in Somerset, as elsewhere, the main reason for that was UKIP voters switching to the Tories.  But exactly the same process will apply here in the General Election.  At the time of writing I don't know if UKIP are going to stand a candidate, but even if they do it is certain that they will get fewer than the 7,000 they got last time, and most of those will go to the Tories.
  • It's a snap election.  I suspect we would be more interested in a joint candidate selected by some form of public event or process than the option of simply falling in behind Gideon Amos - but there just hasn't been the time to come up with something along those lines that would work.

We have debated this long and hard locally but come to the conclusion that we should stand a candidate and urge people to vote for what they believe in.  I have been deeply anxious about whether standing is the right thing to do.  But at the end of the day standing gives us a space to raise environmental issues that will otherwise be overlooked, and the more votes we get the stronger the case for PR, for including our party in debates, for building towards success in the long run, and for winning seats at borough and county level."

Clive Martin
Green Party Parlimentary Candidate for Taunton Deane