We are not standing in the General Election

11 May 2017

Green Party candidates will not stand in Workington or Copeland as part of a national bid to prevent a Conservative landslide.

The party has also announced that it will not field a candidate in Carlisle.

Members of Allerdale & Copeland Green Party decided not field General Election candidates as both are deemed marginal constituencies.

It follows an emergency meeting of the party.

After initially selecting Jill Perry to stand in Workington and Jack Lenox for Copeland, the group has now decided not to put either forward in a bid to dent the Tories' predicted majority.

Helen Davison, who had been selected to stand in Carlisle, has also pulled out ahead of today's registration deadline.

Nationally, efforts have been underway to encourage tactical voting to ensure the Conservatives win fewer seats.

The Greens, alongside the cross-party organisation Compass, hoped Labour and the Liberal Democrats would work with them, although no formal agreement has been reached in Cumbria.

They have been urging the Labour Party to reciprocate by not fielding a candidate in the Isle of Wight – a target seat for the Green Party who outperformed both there in 2015.

However the Greens says these discussions have not led to any meaningful commitment from the Labour Party.

But in a statement, the Allerdale & Copeland Green Party said: "In the interests of our communities we have therefore voted democratically – for the common good – to not stand on this occasion in an effort to minimise the terrible prospect of a Conservative landslide."

Mr Lenox said although there was no formal agreement locally, they hope the gesture will help in the future.

"Even if the other parties do not do anything, we decided we would take the moral high ground," he said.

Overall he said it was "very depressing" to pull out of the race, blaming the current voting system for failing the public. However he hopes that the gesture will result in stronger working with Labour and the Lib Dems in the future, ultimately strengthening the movement to bring in proportional representation.

"It is absolutely sickening to be in a situation where our electoral system is so broken that it requires members of a party like ours to have to make a decision to not stand a candidate," he added.

"I know too well how desperately the people of Copeland need strong representation at this time and I am so sorry that I will not be able to give them the opportunity to vote Green on this occasion.

"It is such a shame that at the top level, the Labour Party and Liberal Democrats have not seen sense and come to the negotiating table with us. However, it is heartening to see that electoral alliances can happen whether the leadership of each party want them or not.

"I applaud the Liberal Democrats for not standing against Caroline Lucas in Brighton Pavilion, and attempts of now expelled Labour Party members to unseat Jeremy Hunt in South West Surrey."

Mrs Perry, who chairs the local party, added: "The decision to stand down has been a really difficult one for us, not taken lightly and many of our members have felt really conflicted about the need to do what is right for the country and the desire to see Green MPs elected.

"While we have the undemocratic 'first past the post' system, small parties and their voters will always face this dilemma in most constituencies. Therefore we continue to call on Labour to support a move to electoral reform in favour of proportional representation.

Published in the Whitehaven News 11.5.17 with a different title.

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