Revolt in Green Party against support for Liberal Democrats?

There are clear signs of a revolt amongst members of the Green Party against their party leadership’s support for the LibDems in their electoral alliance. At least four candidates have stepped down in support of Labour candidates1 and the Green Left members (an eco-socialist current) have denounced support for the alliance and are calling for a vote for Labour. They write:

“The LibDems are a party whose leader, Jo Swinson, received funding from a major fracking company and voted for fracking. She and her party also voted for the bedroom tax, benefit cuts and the introduction of Universal Credit, the scrapping of the education maintenance, increased tuition fees, opposed increasing the tax rate on those earning £150,000, supported cuts to the police and emergency services, supported zero hours contracts, supported the badger cull and did little to challenge climate change, preferring instead nuclear power.

The LibDems are also uncritical supporters of the EU, unlike the Greens who want major democratic reform and accountability. The LibDems reject a proper further referendum that allows people a democratic say on any EU deal or no deal.

Green Left believes Caroline Lucas was right to warn how dangerous the Liber Democrats’ position of ignoring the Referendum result, and instead going for Revoke, is : ‘I certainly think that the LibDem way out is arrogant, self-indulgent, cynical and very dangerous. I think that will put fuel on the fire.’ ”

It is extraordinary that the Green Party leadership has negotiated an alliance with the LibDems, despite their participation in a coalition with the Tories and their proposal to revoke Article 50 without another referendum.

Given the Green Party’s support for another referendum (a ‘People’s vote’) why are they supporting LibDem candidates when the Party has abandoned that as an objective? There is a grave danger that the Green Party will facilitate the coming to power of another Tory-Liberal coalition, for the whiff of power will certainly be too intoxicating for Swinson to resist. How could anybody take serious Green Party talk of ‘system change’ if they facilitate the return of the Tories with the support of the LibDems? The Green Party will pay a political price, but it will, of course, be the mass of the population who will suffer the consequences.

In the absence of proportional representation there are only two alternative governments, be they majority or minority, Tory or Labour? The only possibility of a referendum is if Labour is elected.

It is therefore good to hear Green Left writing:

“Green Left is very concerned that the implied call to support LibDems General Election candidates where the Green Party is not standing and where the Labour candidate was either the sitting MP or is the best placed candidate to defeat the Tory MP is an incorrect position to take – especially if that person supports anti-austerity, proportional representation, a Green New Deal and a people’s vote.

Therefore, we urge Green Party members and supporters to support the Labour Party candidate in these areas.

The UniteTo Remain pact contradicts the Green Party’s initial position that this should be a Climate Emergency election. Instead the pact makes it a Brexit election.”

The Green Party leadership’s position seems to be based on their hostility to Labour’s failure to declare itself a ‘Remain Party’. But hard headed realism should lead them to recognise that the only chance of stopping Brexit is with the election of a Labour government.

Politics and programme cannot be understood purely through the prism of Brexit. The mere fact that the Liberal Dems are a ‘remain’ party does not make them ‘progressive’, as the statement of the Green Left shows.

The seriousness of this profound error by the Green Party is amplified by the decision of the Brexit Party to give Tory candidates a free run and only to stand against Labour. In practice many Green party members understand this issue and will vote for Labour. But if it turns out that as a result of the Green Party’s agreement with the LibDems they help facilitate a Tory-LibDem coalition they will be seen to have aided the enemies of all they stand for.

Last word to Chris Jarvis, a Green Party member in Oxford.

“…for those Green-minded voters in marginal seats the only choice is Labour. Greens like me might not like that, but the reality is that in places like Stroud, Chingford or Canterbury the way to deliver the change we want to see is to elect Labour MPs.
Let’s help, not hinder the prospects of a Corbyn government by Christmas. And let’s make sure there’s a strong group of radical, visionary, talented Green MPs to hold that government to account – and make sure that it really delivers for the many, not the few.”

“Greens lending their vote to a Liberal Democrat would be a vote for much of the Tories’ domestic agenda, wrapped in an EU flag.”

Martin Wicks

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