Green Party pulls out of crucial general election seat to help Labour beat Tories

Similar discussions are thought to be taking place at grassroots level in other constituencies

May Bulman
Wednesday 03 May 2017 12:49 BST
Local Green members in Ealing voted on Thursday not to field a candidate after Ms Huq (right) promised to campaign for voting reform and the environment
Local Green members in Ealing voted on Thursday not to field a candidate after Ms Huq (right) promised to campaign for voting reform and the environment (Chip Somodevilla/ Getty)

The Green Party has pulled out of a crucial election seat in a bid to help the Labour Party beat the Tories - the first tactical withdrawal of its kind ahead of the general election.

The decision is expected to allow more votes to go to Labour MP Rupa Huq, who beat the Conservatives with a majority of just 274 votes in 2015, when no other party managed to attract more than seven per cent of the vote.

Green Party members in Ealing Central and Acton — where the party won 1,841 votes in the 2015 election — voted not to field a candidate last week, after Ms Huq promised to campaign for voting reform and the environment.

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It marks the first “progressive alliance” to be made between opposition parties in which they agree that one side will stand down in order to secure more votes for the other.

They will hope to stop the Tories taking overall power on 8 June even if they win the most seats.

The Green Party is openly calling for such alliances to take place across the country, while Labour and the Liberal Democrats appear to be considering the idea at a grassroots level in other constituencies.

Ms Huq told The Independent there was “common ground” between Labour and the Green Party in Ealing, so it “made sense” for the Green candidate to withdraw.

“They’ve understood that any splitting of the vote in Ealing, given the fragile majority that I have — the most vulnerable Labour seat in London — it’s too much of a risk,” Ms Huq said.

“We’ve agreed on a lot of stuff anyway, so there’s a lot of common ground there. I’m now the red-green candidate and I’m proud to be so.”

The “progressive alliance” movement is being heralded by think tank Compass, which is working in constituencies across the UK to facilitate discussions between grassroots members of the three parties.

Mark Daniel, secretary of Ealing Green Party, told The Independent the party had received overwhelmingly positive feedback from supporters following the decision, and that he believed activists from the Liberal Democrats and Labour could also be willing to make such sacrifices.

"By and large we quite like Rupa. She has made quite prominent statements on proportional representation and Heathrow, as well as climate change and environmental issues in regards to Brexit, so for those reasons we won't tell our members to vote for her, but we will say we're not going to stand against her," he said.

"The Labour Party has said it isn't willing to support progressive alliances, but I think it's a situation where the voters might be ahead of the parties. It's difficult for party leaders to say we will stand down, but you get tactical on the ground, and I think in a way it's the ground leading the top.

"We've had a lot of people sending messages of support, and no one has sent a message saying they oppose the decision, and that includes Green Party members in Acton, but also in other constituencies."

Stephen Clark, the organiser of West London Compass, said the decision for the Greens not to field a candidate in Ealing was “welcomed” by the organisation, and indicated that similar alliances were in the process of being agreed across the UK ahead of the election.

He told The Independent: “Discussions are taking place in a number of the other seats between the Greens and the most likely potential progressive candidate, and we’re hoping something will come from those.

"I think we will find as the election goes on that people will come this way. The system is crying out for it.”

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