30 June 2016

What Would a Democratic or Progressive Alliance Look Like?


There are some big issues for a Democratic or Progressive Alliance to tackle if it can be formed before an early General Election. We have continued unprecedented austerity, the growing sense that Brexit won on false promises and that the British people need to vote on any actual deal, and the clear prospect that the United Kingdom may soon consist of England, Wales and Northern Ireland, leading to a permanent right of centre majority under first past the post. I'm not going to discuss the issues, nor the current issues in the Labour party, but rather post briefly about how any alliance or arrangement might work.

Firstly, any Democratic Alliance may only involve around 50 of the most marginal seats in England (Wales is more difficult to assess). I'm not going to look at Scotland or Northern Ireland (because that would really be down to their respective Green Parties to discuss). From the perspective of a Green voter, the arrangement would be intended to secure an anti-Tory majority, but not to give a majority to any single party within the alliance.

Secondly, I think it is really crucial to point out that in most of the country, Labour, the LDs and the Greens would continue to fiercely contest seats locally. What we would be doing is taking the most marginal seats and making them as winnable as possible for the best progressive challengers not so any one party has a majority, but so that a combination of Lab, SNP, LDs, PC and Greens hold the majority in Parliament and can enact essential democratic reform over a timetable of x years and then commit to an election under a reformed system.

Finally, it is important to restate that local parties are sovereign in the Greens, but that there is a feeling in the party at large that this is something we could and should do to produce lasting reform of our broken voting system. How Labour and the Lib Dems might make these arrangements would be up to them. The most obvious seat, in addition to Brighton Pavilion, where Labour and LDs should be most open to stepping down for the Greens is the Isle of Wight. We finished 3rd with the Tories and UKIP in 1st / 2nd.

The immediate benefits for our party will be very limited in terms of electoral success, and our main targeting will still be in seats where we are competing against Labour, such as Bristol West and Liverpool Riverside. However, genuine electoral reform to a Scottish type of system, with regional top up lists, would see many more Greens elected at the following election. That is a risk worth taking in my view.

This post ends with seats that this writer thinks could be crucial in any discussions:

Labour marginals that would need to be held:

City of Chester
Ealing Central & Acton
Brentford and Isleworth
Wirral West
Halifax
Ilford North
Newcastle Under Lyme
Barrow and Furness
Wolverhampton South West

Labour targets where 2015 Green vote > Tory majority:

Derby North
Croydon Central
Plymouth Sutton and Devonport
Brighton Kemptown
Bury North
Morley and Outwood
Weaver Vale
Gower
Telford
Bedford

Further Labour targets:

Vale of Clwyd
Thurrock
Bolton West
Plymouth Moor View
Lincoln
Cardiff North
Peterborough
Corby
Waveney
Warrington South
Southampton Itchen
Keighley


Lib Dem seats being defended / targeted:

Southport
Carshalton and Wallington
Eastbourne
Lewes


Green seats where Lab or LD may stand down in exchange:


Brighton Pavilion
Isle of Wight

1 comment:

JOHN cOYNE said...

Very useful analysis, Peter.
The key to making any of this useful is a change in the Labour Party so they support electoral reform. In their current turmoil it's unlikely that they will be able to rise to such a decision.
So I think there will be another opportunity to talk about electoral alliances again, in several months' time.
When we do that, I'd prefer us to talk about "democratic" alliance rather than "progressive" ones.
The aim is to fix our broken democracy. We don't have to award the "progressive" badge to parties we strongly disagree with. We can always cooperate, of course, with any opposing party on any campaign where we overlap, but keeping our distinct Green political message free of confusion.