I have bet £10 on Corbyn as Prime Minister, at 8 to 1.
Having derided the Progressive Alliance, I am a late convert – sort of- because of
Labour voters in the Richmond Park by-election took their cue from the Greens’ decision not to stand, and voted Lib Dem, as Molly Scott cato MEP has pointed out on Radio 4.
I still think an alliance of everybody who wasn’t Tory was unsound, but this will not be a deal in that sense. I believe the Green Party should simply state the following:
1 We will not stand candidates in any constituency where our vote was greater than the Conservative majority over Labour in 2015, or where the sitting Conservative MP is under investigation for electoral fraud.
2 We will not stand in constituencies which the Lib Dems lost to the Conservatives in 2015.
3 In return, we request – not demand – that the Lib Dems do not stand in specified (Labour held) constituencies. Obvious first choices are the four where Greens came second in 2015,, though Norwich Oxford and even Lewisham could be considered. (Conservatives may wish to join the er, Progressive Alliance in these seats.)
4 However, to remind voters what the Green Party is really about, we stand as many candidates as possible against Conservative MPs with climate sceptical views – Owen Patterson for example.
The main object would be to achieve a hung Parliament, with the sole purpose of bringing in proportional representation, to be followed immediately by a further general election. It would be a unilaterally declared PA, but the response, if any, by others would demonstrate whether the idea ever had any validity. I expect a rejection by the Lib Dems, who will regard keepng the Green Party on the sidelines as more important than proportional representation. I have never hoped more fervently to be proved wrong.
The details can of course be modified, but the Conservatives only have to suffer a net loss of 7 seats for this strategy to be successful. The Greens are of course decentralized, but this strategy should be urged on local parties. It kicks the can of Jeremy Corbyn’s fitness or otherwise to lead down the road. It reminds me of the woman at the Chepstow hustings who said I would not make a good leader (of the GP), but I was saying all the right things. I have even been described as a Corbyn lookalike, which I take as a compliment due to the 15 year age difference. (I said lookalike, not thinkalike).
But if we do not use this opportunity to go for PR, then when?
I had an interesting conversation with someone who lives in a Conservative held area in the Wirral recently (before the election announcement). She said that people in her area, which had voted ‘Remain’ were unhappy with May’s handling of the issue. They saw Labour as ineffectual, and many were considering voting Green. This trend may be widespread, but I have other information which casts doubt on its usefulness.
If the phenomenon of Green sympathy existed in Copeland or Stoke , it was obliterated by the Lib Dems in the February by-elections. In both constituencies the Lib Dem vote went up by around 800, whereas the Green vote collapsed by a similar figure. The Lib Dems had been able to bring much more massive efforts to bear than the Greens. But they will not be able to do this in a General Election, so my friend may be right.
A longer term aim is that the original purpose of the Green Party – stop trashing the ecosphere – has always resonated more in well-heeled areas than in impoverished areas with more immediate worries. This is an issue which, like Brexit, alienates many normally loyal Conservative voters. It would be invidious to pray for bad weather- not causing too much damage, just enough to take the Green Party seriously. Bearing in mind this government’s appalling environmental record it would be intriguing to see what effect a severe climatic event a few days before the election would have on Conservative denialist MPs.