Peter Tatchell: Greens should vote Lib Dem to unseat Labour and Tories

Pink News reports that LDV’s Liberal Voice of the Year Peter Tatchell has urged Green supporters to vote tactically for the Lib Dems where Nick Clegg’s party is best placed to unseat Labour or Tories:

Former Green Party candidate and gay rights activist Peter Tatchell has called for Green supporters to vote for the Liberal Democrats in certain seats. … He told today that he was not a Lib Dem supporter but the party promises to change the “corrupt” voting system.

Mr Tatchell, who emphasised he was speaking in a personal capacity, said: “On May 6th, Labour could come third in the number of votes but still end up with the most seats. That is not democracy. The voting system is corrupt and has to change. The Greens support voting reform but the Lib Dems are the only major party committed to a fairer voting system. If they hold the balance of power, the Lib Dems will almost certainly ensure a fairer voting system which will be the single biggest democratic advance in Britain since the suffragettes.”

M Tatchell was the Greens’ candidate in the Lib Dem-Labour marginal Oxford East until December, when he stood down on health grounds.

Update: Peter Tatchell responds to the PinkNews article, and sets out his views fully, in this comment here on Lib Dem Voice.

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This entry was posted in General Election.


  • Voting Lib Dems now will benefit Greens later, because if the Lib Dems can get the electoral reform through, the Greens will also have hope to get seats in the parliament.

  • Andrew Suffield 28th Apr '10 - 4:11pm

    There’s really not that much difference between Lib Dem and Green policies anyway. They’re a bit more aggressively interventionist in some places and have different priorities, but most of the goals are the same, and on most policy areas (the ones not relating to the environment) they’re near enough identical. I don’t think members of either party have much of a problem with the idea of the other one being in power. If the Greens had any significant number of seats in Parliament, I would be unsurprised by the formation of a Lib Dem-Green coalition.

    (Minor point: the Green proposal to spend an extra £40bn in a Parliament that’s going to have to cut at least £50bn of spending is absurd. That kind of money is just not available. They must be aware of this, so it’s grandstanding for the media, not something they think will happen. It’d be a reasonable proposal if the economy wasn’t such a train wreck – something worth taking a good hard look at in another five years, to see how much can be afforded)

  • “There’s really not that much difference between Lib Dem and Green policies anyway. ”


    Their whole philosophy is different to ours. And it’s a fundamental difference too. The Greens are not Liberal.

  • Peter Laubach 28th Apr '10 - 5:35pm

    You’re absolutely right, Tabman. The ‘green’ bits may be similar, but otherwise the Greens seem to be crypto-socialists of the old-fashioned kind. They are not to be encouraged, save to the extent that they might attract true socialists who currently vote Nulab and thus help us in Nulab/Libdem marginals.

  • Tatchell appears to have grasped that it is better to adapt to the rules of the game, rather than pretend that they were already as he would prefer. It would be helpful for him to emphasise that this tactic is sensible where the LDs are second or a close third, but would not be apt in Lab-Con marginals. In Con-Lab micromarginals the Tories must be backed to remove Brown’s Commons majority. But in Lab-Con marginals where Lab start 10 points ahead they must backed to block a Tory majority.

  • Hugh, if you read the whole story, you’ll find out that he actually said: “Mr Tatchell, who remains the party’s human rights and LGBT spokesman, told a Instigate debate last night in London that even people who usually vote Green should support incumbent Lib Dem candidates or those likely to succeed. … He added that he wanted people to vote Green in the party’s target areas, such as Brighton Pavilion, but urged everyone to vote Lib Dem where Labour or Conservative MPs could be unseated.”

  • Andrew Suffield 28th Apr '10 - 9:14pm

    the Greens seem to be crypto-socialists of the old-fashioned kind

    Certainly they’re no centrists, but have you read their policies? Half of them are taken right out of the Lib Dem manifesto. Even their economic policy is awfully similar aside from the plans for new spending (their tax adjustments are different but still “cut tax for low earners, remove tax breaks and loopholes for rich people”, they want to break apart retail and investment banking). They have a “plan” for phased elimination of tuition fees which is basically the Lib Dem one. They want to tackle crime by treating drug addicts and educating prisoners. It’s fairly obvious where they got most of these ideas.

    While they aren’t ideologically Liberals, most of their policies are still liberal, with a heavy emphasis on localism – sound familiar?

  • Andrew Suffield 29th Apr '10 - 3:51am

    Well, if they can cut taxes for low earners while raising taxes by 9 percentage points of GDP they must be wizards!

    Yeah, I suspect there just isn’t enough money to cover all their spending plans. The £125bn tax increases implied by that claim aren’t laid out in their manifesto, and I’m thinking they just can’t be done. In the fantastically unlikely event of the Greens getting to set economic policy in the next parliament, I think they would have to settle for less tax and less spending.

    Mind you, it would be an almost reasonable plan if the nation was not £100bn in the hole. Ten years ago (or in ten years time) it would be reasonable to partially finance it by borrowing, since it’s mostly industry-enabling infrastructure.

    (Not that I support their spending plans, but there’s nothing in there I can point to and say “that’s a bad idea”, only “that’s not something we can afford right now”)

    would anyone else, like me, feel disappointed and frustrated at the Green party’s PEB, which claims differences which don’t exist and disingenuously lumps the Lib Dems in with ‘others’?

    It’s irritating, but it’s politics. We saw just recently the impact of “I agree with Nick”. Unallied parties are more or less obliged to claim distinctiveness from each other, even when (as with Labour and the Tories) there’s not a whole lot of actual differences there.

  • Peter Tatchell 1st May '10 - 12:37pm

    Lib Dems and Greens: Vote tactically

    Peter Tatchell of the Green Party sets out the case for tactical voting by Lib Dems and Greens, to advance democracy and electoral reform

    Progressive voters who do not normally support the Liberal Democrats have to admit that the sudden surge in their support has changed the possible election outcome. It is breaking the two-party duopoly that has strangled British politics since 1945 and lumbered us with parliaments that do not represent the full spectrum of voter opinion and with governments that are supported by only a minority of the public.

    This election is our best chance in 100 years to get a government that will legislate for a fair voting system that will lead to the election of a representative parliament and a government with majority public support.

    This change won’t happen if Labour or the Tories win. To secure change, we need a different result from past elections – a balanced parliament with more MPs committed to democracy and electoral reform.

    This momentous, historic electoral opportunity for change has led me to qualify my call for people to vote Green. For the sake of the bigger prize of real democracy and fair votes, I have urged people to vote tactically for the Liberal Democrats in seats where the Greens are not standing, and in some other selected seats.

    I urge the Lib Dems to show equal generosity and reciprocity by supporting the Greens in our key seats, such as Brighton Pavilion, Norwich South, Lewisham Deptford, Cambridge, Oxford East and elsewhere.

    The Lib Dems have been very happy to accept Green support but they have not yet shown similar support for the Greens. This reciprocity is necessary in order to defeat the main opponents of democratic reform, Labour and the Conservatives.

    I reiterate my appeal now:

    We have got to end the corrupt voting system, whereby successive Tory and Labour governments have won a majority of seats based on a minority of votes.

    In some constituencies, people should consider a tactical vote for the Lib Dems. In other seats, the Lib Dems should vote tactically for the Greens. This way, both parties benefit, as do all people who want progressive, democratic change.

    Where are the Lib Dems who are calling for green and gold electoral cooperation in order to advance a democratic and fair election result? I don’t see any.

    I am disappointed by the way some Liberal Democrats have sought to undermine the Greens in our target seats by misrepresenting and exploiting my appeal for mutual solidarity. This is cynical, manipulative politics. It is short-sighted, sectarian and selfish.

    This election could be a real change-maker, or at least open up the possibility of future change. All progressive change-makers – including the Greens and the Lib Dems – should be working together to ensure that the old two-party ‘dictatorship’ is banished for good.

    Where does this leave me and the Greens?

    I still support the Green Party. I believe it has the best policies for a fair, green and compassionate society – and world. But like most Greens, I put values and ideals before narrow party interest. The lack of a democratic and fair voting system is the single most important issue on 6 May. If we don’t have a representative parliament and a government with majority support, we don’t have democracy.

    The Conservatives and Labour oppose a fair voting system. They reject the democratic principle that a government should have majority public support. They accept that parties with a minority of votes are entitled to win a majority of seats, and that small parties with sizable public support, like the Greens, should have no MPs at all.

    The Lib Dems support electoral reform, which is good. But they have recently indicated that they might accept the Alternative Vote system, which is not true PR. AV favours larger parties (including the Lib Dems) and would perpetuate the present flaw whereby a party with a minority of first preference votes could end up with a majority of seats.

    The Greens, in contrast, do not accept AV. We believe that each party’s proportion of MPs in parliament should correspond to the proportion of votes won by that party.

    Nevertheless, in order to prise open the door to a fair voting system and a representative parliament, tactical voting for the Lib Dems may be justified in some constituencies. But not in constituencies where the Greens have a good local base and a strong showing – such as Brighton Pavilion, Norwich South, Lewisham Deptford, Cambridge, Oxford East and so on.

    In particular, in seats where the Greens have strong and growing support, I urge everyone to vote for the Green candidate.

    I urge the Lib Dems to behave honourably and to not misrepresent what I have said; to not exploit my generosity towards them in order to damage the Greens in our target constituencies.

    To the Greens who have doubts about what I am advocating, I say this:

    My support for tactical voting takes the long view. The Lib Dems are our best (albeit flawed) hope for some form of electoral reform and, as a result, to secure more MPs from left-of-centre parties like the Lib Dems, Plaid Cymru, the SNP and the Greens.

    If the Tories or Labour win the election, there is no hope at all.

    Although Nick Clegg has recently alluded to compromising with AV, I am quietly confident that he and others will eventually have to accede to a more democratic form of PR (most of the Lib Dem grassroots will demand it, as will the wider public).

    The long-term success of progressive politics depends on PR. This election is our best chance in a century to get it.

    As to the accusations of disloyalty to my own party:

    I have suggested tactical voting for Lib Dems in some constituencies not in order to undermine the Greens but to help secure their future success. In politics, sometimes we have to sacrifice short-term gain for greater gain in the long run. This election is, I think, one such occasion.

  • Really disappointed that Peter isn’t supporting Julian Huppert in Cambridge.

    The Lib Dems have 28 out of the 42 councillors, David Howarth has a decent majority, bookies have Lib Dems as favourites and the Greens polled about 3% in 2005.

    To urge Lib Dems to ditch a good, local candidate with a scientific background and a strong interest in the environment in favour of a fringe party which lost its deposit last time is really counterproductive.

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