The Green Party has been banding around the idea of a ‘Progressive Alliance’ against the Conservative Party for some time now. It’s become something that, in a select number of seats, is a viable way of flipping Conservative majorities, and taking the Westminster seat from them.
In Twickenham and Richmond Park, the Green Party have stood aside for the Liberal Democrats. In Brighton Pavilion, the Liberal Democrats have stood aside for the Green MP, Caroline Lucas. Many Green Party members suggest the only reason the Liberal Democrats even hold Richmond Park constituency, is because of their standing aside there at the by-election, triggered when Zac Goldsmith resigned from the Conservatives. He’s back now though, and fighting for the seat in the 2017 GE.
It’s a nice idea, this ‘Progressive Alliance’, one that I might be able to get behind if it weren’t for a few big blockers for me. I’ll try to explain why.
- Liberal Democrats, Labour, and the Green Party, all have vastly different ideas of what it means to be a positive force in UK politics, and have vastly different policies. I cannot in good faith cast my vote for a Labour PPC if they agree with how Article 50 was triggered, or if they would vote to renationalise the railways. As a Liberal, these are impossible for me to vote for. I couldn’t vote for a Green PPC, if they seriously believed that removing trident money from the defence budget, and putting it into the NHS is a good idea; I cannot vote for them because of their party’s stance on nuclear energy either. They’re ambivalent about economic growth, which in my view is absolutely crazy. This is not a fantastic start to how a ‘Progressive Alliance’ would work now, is it? This isn’t a possible shared platform.
- Aside from views, the Green Party and the Labour party ran really tribal, personal campaigns against some of the Liberal Democrats’ representatives in 2015. Bristol West and Cambridge are the two that come to mind first. How are we as a party meant to put this behind us, a mere two years later, when the mudslinging and petty lines are still coming from activists and leadership figures of all parties. For an alliance agreement to work, we need to work together. This has been shown in the recent past, to be impossible. I cannot in good faith forget these campaigns against Stephen Williams, Julian Huppert, Lynne Featherstone and Simon Hughes easily either. These parties deserve to be targeted by us, not to be worked with.
- Restricting the democratic choice of the people in a General Election really really irks me. In Brighton Pavilion, a constituency I could well have lived in, come the 2017 election (Thankfully my new home is in Hove, where I can vote Liberal Democrat) the local Liberal Democrats stood their candidate down for Caroline Lucas. Love her or hate her, that’s not the point. I am a Liberal Democrat, and I want to vote for the party. Restricting the choice of other people is not right, we should be standing a candidate in every british constituency, regardless of chances or opposition. “Anybody but Tory” rhetoric is really damaging to our political discourse, and it’s really insulting to voters. Not all of the parties have the same policies and philosophy, and we shouldn’t be pretending that voters should only vote for the candidate/party/cause that they believe in. Who are the political parties to prevent this. A General Election is not just a vote for or against the Conservative Party, no matter how many times Caroline Lucas and Jon Bartley spew it out of their mouths on the campaign trail.
- Standing aside in seats may reduce our national average. This is a lesser point, but as someone who is an avid supporter of STV, an inflated vote share will further the cause for a proportional system of electing our MPs. Reducing this national average is not only damaging to our image after polling day, but it could sabotage how we spin it after the election is held.
I understand that there are supporters of a progressive alliance in all three of the Lib Dems, Labour, and Greens. But to me, it’s a farfetched idea, and it’s completely playing into this ‘coalition of chaos’ nonsense that is being vomited by the Tory party. It’s damaging, it’s patronising, and it’s undemocratic. So let’s just vote for what we believe in, shall we?