Friday 26 August 2016

Green Party Activists Voice Doubts about an Electoral Progressive Alliance

As counting begins in the Green Party leader and deputy leader elections, Caroline Lucas, one of the (joint) candidates for leader, has renewed her call for a progressive alliance of parties of the broad left at the next general election.

But not all activists within the Green Party agree with Lucas, and there is at the very least a degree of scepticism in the party about the viability of such an alliance.

The BBC piece quotes some of them:

David Williams, another leadership contender, said that while he supported of the idea of talking to other parties he believed Labour would not co-operate. He told the BBC: ‘We can make agreements I think with the Liberal Democrats, with Plaid Cymru, with the SNP but the advantages in terms of ousting the Tories as a result of that are quite marginal. They could be quite substantial if Labour would come along and join the alliance but I don't think they will.’

An Oxfordshire Green Party activist Hazel Dawe said a "progressive" alliance would be "a wonderful thing" but believed it was unachievable. She said: ‘I think there are a lot of obstacles to achieving it, not the least of which is that the Labour party is not committed to proportional representation.’

Clive Lord, veteran of the party and a candidate for the Green Party leadership this year writes on his blog:

‘I start from a sceptical position. Labour have understandably done their damnedest to destroy the Green Party wherever we show most signs of a breakthrough – Brighton, Norwich, Bristol, Oxford.’

Andrew Cooper, from Kirkless Green Party and one of the deputy leadership candidates writing on The Norwich Radical says:

‘Labour needs to have a Progressive Alliance with itself before it can really contemplate having one with anyone else. Until Labour hopefully ‘settles down’ into some degree of stability we can’t progress matters with them.’

‘The other issue with Labour is that currently I am not convinced they have that much enthusiasm for Electoral Reform which is the principal rationale for the proposal. Too many Labour MPs and activists seem to be of the ‘one last heave’ brigade, that believe that if the undemocratic First Past the Post system works for them, then somehow that makes it legitimate. Electoral realities may make Labour wake up more quickly with a Party that is now decimated in Scotland and divided across the country. Another worrying sign was when Caroline Lucas’s 10 minute rule bill tabled last week on Electoral Reform was subject to a Labour Whip asking Labour MPs to abstain.’

Another Deputy Leadership candidate Alan Borgars writing on his blog states: ‘It would also deprive so many voters of the chance to vote for a forward-thinking alternative with new ideas and a genuine willingness to change our broken political and socio-economic systems in the UK…The Green Party can win elections without help, and indeed has had to. In fact, it was Labour we won Brighton Pavilion from in the first place back in 2010.’ Alan is a Green Left supporter.

Meanwhile, Ashford Green Party in Kent, passed motions sceptical about the Green Party joining a progressive alliance, and calling for the decision to made by members, not leadership figures in the party. One of the motions contains this paragraph:

‘Ashford Green Party is calling on the leadership and all other members of the party to immediately cease from claiming that the GPEW supports a progressive alliance until a policy is passed by conference or an internal referendum which gives all members a voice on the matter.’

Green Party member Charles Gate from Yorkshire, another supporter of Green Left comments on a post on the Bright Green blog on the issue:

‘First let me rename the ‘progressive alliance’ the ‘Evil Dead Alliance’ – EVIL for the lib dems (for those of you with short memories) who supported the Tories (The Evil Dead Alliance is aimed at Tories remember) for 5 long years of austerity – DEAD for the Labour Party who are not interested in anything but their own internal fighting and who ever wins the leadership that will just lead to continued in-fighting. The Labour party are probably lost for a generation as a meaningful force in politics, they may even be destroyed entirely – ALLIANCE, oh! that will be us the GP and Plaid Cymru...The Green Party leadership need to come up with something better – why not try, we are the Green Party, this is what we stand for?’

And finally a Green Party activist quoted on Left Foot Forward wrote:

‘Every time I hear ‘progressive alliance’ I hear the death knell of radical politics in the party. I hope I’m wrong.’

Personally, I’ve stated on this blog in the past that I would broadly agree to the progressive alliance idea, but I must admit, I’m pretty sceptical myself about whether it will actually happen in the end.


  1. From Charles Gate

    Emergency Motion: Progressive Alliances

    The recent political climate, combined with the long-term struggle to achieve proportional representation, has highlighted the need for decisive, cross-party action to demand electoral reform and give the country the best chance of a representative, accountable government. However, ongoing issues with other parties have exposed and intensified hostilities in some areas, and therefore any political strategy proposed by the Green Party of England and Wales which resembles an alliance must be developed both in close consultation with members and local parties, and taking into account issues which would create barriers when putting such an alliance into practice.

    It is felt by many that discussions around this so far have taken place without due transparency, and are tantamount to the leadership team and key elected representatives creating policy outside of the democratically mandated member-led process.

    Conference instructs GPEx to assemble a working group to carry out a comprehensive, initial consultation with individual members, local parties, and member groups before the idea of a Progressive Alliance is developed any further; and that the responses are used to inform the terms of such an alliance should it become a realistic direction for the party’s future political strategy.

    Conference notes: Once an arrangement is proposed, it must be supported by GPEx, and put to GPRC for agreement on behalf of the party, as per Section 11, clause (v) of the Constitution.


    To sign this, please copy and paste this motion text into an email and send to by 5pm on September 2nd. Only the Emergency Motions with the most signatures will be heard at Conference, so please encourage as many members as you can to sign it.

  2. More evidence - thanks Charlie. It looks like the progressive alliance is far from a settled issue in the Green Party.

  3. Replies
    1. In retrospect, maybe I 'over-egged the pudding' in stating that the idea of a Progressive Alliance inspires A LOT OF tribalism WITHIN GREEN LEFT MEMBERS AND GREEN PARTY ACTIVISTS.

      Charles Gates'reference to progressive alliance as an EVIL DEAD Alliance — cited on London Green Left blog — epitomises what I was saying about tribalism.

      Presenting the concept of a progressive alliance can be a way of calling other parties' bluff, especially in constituencies where prospective participant parties have, say, behaved as regressive alliances as in the case of Labour councillors siding with Conservatives in Brighton & Hove in the days of a Green Party led council with no overall majority, or in areas where Labour has been a one-party state and forced people on state benefits to pay an element of Council Tax when those state benefits are too low to be taxed.

      Dude Swheatie of Kwug

      PS: It seems that arousing controversy can be a means of inciting debate.