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‘Progressive Alliance’ Dead in the Water as Green Party Effectively Drops Hopes of Deal with Labour and Lib Dems

The party has adopted a more centralised approach as it steps away from potential deals with other parties

Green Party Co-Leaders Carla Denyer and Adrian Ramsay. Photo: PA Images /Alamy

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The Green Party has ditched efforts to build a ‘progressive alliance’ between Labour, the Liberal Democrats and Greens ahead of the next election, as conference attendees voted to allow the party’s National Executive to force local groups to select candidates and run a full-slate.

In a notable shift in political strategy, the Green Party leadership received overwhelming support from members to allow the executive to force the selection of candidates for every constituency in the upcoming general election. 

This decision, made during the party’s conference over the weekend in Brighton, signifies a departure from the party’s previous backing for a ‘progressive alliance’ approach, whereby candidates could voluntarily stand aside in target seats in exchange for backing elsewhere.

It was viewed as a flop in previous elections, with the party failing to make significant ground in pacts with the Lib Dems, and Labour refusing to engage. 

Green Party Co-Leaders Adrian Ramsay and Carla Denyer, Green peer Baroness Natalie Bennett, and several members of the party’s executive were the chief backers of the change.

The motion effectively prevents local parties forming their own local pacts with other parties during general elections. 

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Former party leader Bennett made clear that electoral alliances are unlikely in the forthcoming election, citing the reluctance of other parties to engage, independent party title Bright Green reported. She called for future collaboration to be arranged at the national level, centralising the decision-making process to make it more structured and organised. 

But Adrian Spurrell, the former co-chair of the Green Party Regional Council, was among those unsuccessfully opposing the move. The motion passed with more than the necessary two-thirds majority, being endorsed by around 73% of members at conference. 

This development may compel some local parties, previously reluctant to present candidates due to financial constraints or existing electoral alliances, to revise their stance. 

The Greens are moving towards a more assertive electoral position, potentially boosting the party’s visibility and impact in the forthcoming general election.

Green peer Baroness Jenny Jones told Byline Times: “Alliances always work for the bigger party, so yes, [they’re] off the table. But Greens know that to get things done, we have often to work with other parties, and are good at it. 

“For example, if we worked with Labour, the job I’d love is Labour’s COVID Corruption Commissioner. They could trust me to do a thorough job. On tactical voting, I loathe it, but the Green Party might rely on it to get more Green MPs. If everyone who said they would vote Green under PR just voted Green, we’d do really well.”

The party’s Deputy Leader Zack Polanski added: The Green Party knows that the public want to see parties working together more – and that’s an important part of our values too. Now we know we’ll be standing in every constituency in the country, it’s become much more possible to do that. 

“We’re very open to talking to the Labour Party about a national arrangement but it would absolutely have to involve proportional representation and climate action at the heart of that. If Labour aren’t willing to do that, then it’s impossible to have an alliance when they’ve even failed on the most basic meaning of the word progressive.” 

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He added that the party’s big focus now is on getting four Green MPs elected to Westminster – in Waverley Valley (Adrian Ramsey), Bristol Central (Carla Denyer), Brighton Pavilion (Sian Berry replacing Caroline Lucas MP), and North Herefordshire (ex-MEP Ellie Chowns). 

Polanski also urged voters to avoid voting tactically outside Green target seats: “If someone wants to vote tactically – then voting for a party standing up for an equal fair vote for everyone whilst tackling the injustices in our society – then the only tactical vote is to vote Green.”

Polanski, a London Assembly member, told Byline Times that there was a “real determination” among members to get four MPs elected next year. 

In 2019, tactical voting to prevent a hard Brexit was encouraged by the Green Party, Liberal Democrats and Welsh pro-independence party Plaid Cymru, in the run-up to the general election. The parties stood down several parliamentary candidates for each other, in seats where one of them was thought to have a genuine prospect of winning if the vote wasn’t split between left-of-centre parties. Caroline Lucas had backed the approach, alongside cross-party group Compass.

Despite the likely lack of national pacts between parties, voters are expected to vote tactically in large numbers across the UK next year, amid fears of right-wing candidates ‘slipping in’ between a split anti-Conservative vote.

Right-wing party Reform UK, polling similar numbers to the Greens, is also expected to put up a full slate of candidates in the next election, the party announced at the weekend – denting Rishi Sunak’s hope of a clear run in Conservative-held seats.

At this year’s conference, the Greens also revealed a new ‘Fairer, Greener Homes Guarantee’ which would involve investment of £145 billion over 10 years to provide grants to retrofit all homes that need it, along with Government-backed finance to make up additional costs. 

Local authorities would also be handed the power to impose rent controls on the private rental sector, “ensuring there are affordable homes for key and critical workers in overheated local housing markets”. And the party wants to increase the stock of social housing by 150,000 homes a year, including by bringing empty homes back into use. 

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