25 May 2017
It appears that the overwhelming decision of Allerdale and Copeland Green Party to stand aside, in both the Copeland and the Workington seats, in this general election has caused consternation in some quarters. Clearly the Green Party’s commitment to ‘doing politics differently’ is upsetting some people!
Some of our local Green Party supporters will be disappointed at not being able to vote Green this time. To them - and to those who may already have been thinking about voting tactically in June - I would argue that standing aside, and voting for Labour in both Copeland and Workington, is the Greenest vote you can cast this June. Amongst many other issues, Conservative policies are actively worsening the situation regarding air pollution and global warming. Which is why - despite standing as the Green Party candidate in Copeland for the 2015 general election - this June, I shall be voting Labour: to get the Tories out!
Caroline Lucas has praised the Greens for standing down in Brighton Kemptown (where the Tories have a small majority, with Labour a very clear second) - despite the Greens getting over 3000 votes and 7% of the vote in 2015, AND despite them getting no firm commitments from Labour over PR. The Green Party's candidate in Oxford West & Abingdon (where it’s a straight contest between Tories and LibDems) said, when she stood down, that tactical voting for the LibDem candidate offered "the best chance of beating the Conservatives". The Chair of Oxfordshire Green Party also asked Labour Party supporters to back the LibDem candidate.
Much closer to home, both Carlisle Greens, and Westmorland and Lonsdale Greens, have also decided to stand aside in their respective constituencies. As the Westmorland Gazette reported this week, the Greens there took this difficult decision in order to do all they can “to prevent the sort of damage that an unconstrained Conservative government will unleash.” They also gave explicit encouragement to their supporters to act in a way that would prevent “the erosion of our ideals… in this seat, that means voting tactically for the Lib Dems.”
Our Emergency Meeting on 27 April did not make a formal decision on whether or not to call on our members and supporters - in order to prevent Tory victories - to vote tactically, in both seats, for the Labour candidates. However, I was certainly not alone in expressing the hope that all our Green Party members and supporters would, for this election, vote Labour - for the common good. It is to be hoped that the Lib Dems, who claim to be a progressive party, will also be big enough to put the wider interests of the majority of people above tribal party politics and either stand aside in both our seats, or at least make no serious campaigning efforts. Even if their national leaders are too shortsighted, hopefully LibDem supporters will also vote tactically, for Labour - especially as there is no way they can overtake the Conservatives in either of our two seats.
There is much to justify such a call - at least on Green Party supporters and voters - because, despite our principled differences with Labour (in particular, on new nuclear power stations, and on having a referendum on whatever Brexit terms are negotiated), there is more that unites us than divides us. Especially on saving our NHS, opposition to fracking, and the need to take the railways back into public ownership.
This election is probably the most important since 1945, as regards determining the long-term future of this country. As a committed Green, I will be voting tactically for Labour in this election, in the hope of making a contribution to preventing a Tory landslide in June. For anyone in the Copeland and Workington seats, wanting to do their bit in preventing what would be an awful catastrophe for the 99% of UK citizens, the answer is clear: Vote Labour on 8 June!
Published in the Times & Star 19.5.17 and the Whitehaven News 25.5.17 as an independent member of ACGP.