Lucas blasts Labour and Lib Dem ‘failure’ to form a progressive alliance

Caroline Lucas, Green Party candidate for Brighton Pavilion SUS-170405-101610001
Caroline Lucas, Green Party candidate for Brighton Pavilion SUS-170405-101610001

The Green candidate for Brighton Pavilion has slammed both Labour and the Liberal Democrat leaders for ‘failing to fully engage with the idea of electoral alliances’, and claimed it went against ‘the strong wishes of their members and the wider public’.

Caroline Lucas, the co-leader of the Green Party, criticised the two parties today (May 9) after a long campaign promoting ‘progressive alliances’ to beat the Conservatives.

She said the Greens will now ‘move on from alliances’ and ‘redouble efforts to win votes across the country’.

Despite a failure to broker a pact on a national level however, the Liberal Democrats have stood down in favour of Ms Lucas in Brighton Pavilion, and the Green candidate in Brighton Kemptown stood down to support Labour against Conservative Simon Kirby.

But Ms Lucas spoke out after the Labour Party suspended Steve Williams yesterday (May 8), a member in Surrey who had advocated for an alliance around a pro-NHS candidate to beat health minister Jeremy Hunt.

She said: “Both Labour and the Lib Dems have betrayed the people they represent by not fully engaging with the idea of electoral alliances. Though the Lib Dems were happy to have informal discussion, they never delivered on ruled any meaningful alliances. Labour were even more intransigent - with no hint from their leadership that they were interested in talking about how we best beat this rotten Tory Government.

“Labour’s treatment of Steve Williams in Surrey is both shameful and shortsighted. There was a real chance to unite around a pro-NHS candidate to beat Jeremy Hunt, but Labour might well have now blown it.

“Labour and the Lib Dems defied their own members on the ground - and the time has now come for the Greens to focus entirely on winning votes up and down the country.

“Electoral alliances matter because we have a broken political system. We have a Government hellbent on some of the most extreme policies in a generation: a crumbling NHS, a jilted generation of young people being let down and the pursuit of a hardline extreme Brexit. Our hugely undemocratic electoral system is so stacked in the establishment’s favour that the Tories can win a majority on just 24% of the eligible vote. It’s abundantly clear that to crack open our politics we must hack the system and create a more plural politics.

“Having done what we can, our focus is now entirely on winning votes up and down the country - and sending more MPs to Parliament on June 8th. The other parties have proved in recent weeks that they aren’t fit for the modern political age - and in this election we’re offering voters a chance to back a politics which puts people first to deliver a confident and caring country.”

Ms Lucas has urged Labour and Lib Dems to work together to beat the Tories at the next election, but said ‘Labour refused to even meet with the Greens and the Lib Dems engaged but only at an arms length’.

She said The Green Party has stood aside in a number of ‘strategically important seats’ - boosting the chances of candidates such as Lib Dem Sarah Olney in Richmond and Labour’s Rupa Huq in Ealing.

Paul Chandler, the Liberal Democrat’s prospective parliamentary candidate for Brighton Pavilion - who stood down in favour of Ms Lucas - said: “I am surprised to hear such bitter words from Caroline Lucas. As the Lib Dem candidate who has stood down and endorsed Caroline to be re-elected, I think I can say that the LibDems have done much to support her concept of a ‘progressive alliance’.

“In fact Lib Dem members in Pavilion effectively launched the campaign for co-operation across party lines in this election by voting three to one not to contest the seat.

“Labour is another matter. How can one form a progressive alliance with a party that has turned its face against fair voting time and time again? Sadly, whatever the virtues of individual Labour candidates, every vote for Labour is going to be counted as a vote for Jeremy Corbyn.”

Solomon Curtis, Labour’s candidate in Brighton Pavilion, said: “I have respect for and know Dr Lucas. She knows I am not into tribal politics and that I believe there may be merit in parties standing aside to have a better chance of beating the Tories, where it is warranted. But the analysis of Pavilion is wrong. This is a straight choice between Labour and the Greens. The Tories cannot win here.

“Instead we should focus on the issues that really matter to the people of Brighton Pavilion - such as the growing number relying on food banks who are starving, those waiting longer in agony for treatment from an over stretched NHS and those living on the streets, dying prematurely because their benefits have been slashed.”