Richmond shows progressive alliances do work

Buried amid the dramatic and highly welcome headline of the Liberal Democrat landslide on Richmond-upon-Thames Council was a rather overlooked factor –that, when progressive alliances are done properly and sensitively, they can work and be a great asset to the party.

In 2014 the Conservatives won thirty-nine of Richmond’’s fifty-four councillors. This time we won thirty-nine but, while we picked up the other fifteen councillors four years ago, this time the Tories only got eleven, with the other four going to the Greens. And those four Greens are in part a Liberal Democrat success.

Richmond is made up of eighteen three-member wards. In twelve of them, the Liberal Democrats fielded three candidates and the Greens none, but in the six where the Greens put up a solitary candidate, we only put up two. This was in part a thank you for the Greens standing aside in both the Richmond Park by-election of December 2016, and in both Richmond Park and Twickenham constituencies in the 2017 general election, decisions that meant we won two of those three polls. But it was also an exercise in overt cooperation between two political parties.

It could have gone badly wrong. Our decision not to stand a third candidate in six wards could have cost us six councillors, or even twelve if a Conservative had won the third seats because Liberal Democrat voters weren’’t willing to vote Green. That’’s why the campaign was so important –it wasn’t’ just about making our presence and values felt, but about letting people know that they had three votes, and we were encouraging them to use their third for the Greens.

This was therefore more than just a tacit pact in which the two parties operated very independently but didn’’t stand a full slate of candidates –- this was genuine cooperation. There was joint literature (alongside single-party literature), a cooperative canvassing ‘script’ in which Liberal Democrat canvassers asked receptive residents to use their third vote for the Green candidate, and joint campaigning sessions involving people of both parties wearing each other’s rosettes and stickers pointing out that voters might want to support inter-party cooperation even if their hearts weren’’t beating to a Liberal Democrat or Green pulse. Canvassers were genuinely campaigning for two parties, a novelty in British politics.

The results make interesting and optimistic reading. The Greens had hoped to get one councillor elected: Andrée Frieze, their parliamentary candidate who stood aside to give Sarah Olney a clear run in the Richmond Park by-election. But she was one of four Greens elected. All four finished third in their wards behind two Lib Dems, which suggests there were a few Lib Dem voters who didn’t want to use their third cross for the Green. But they were outweighed by the many who were happy to buy into
‘the Green deal’ (as it became known in canvass groups). And with Richmond’s Greens putting all their campaigning efforts into two wards, they now have two councillors who were elected pretty much entirely off the back of Liberal Democrat efforts.

As such, it would be easy to say the Greens got the better deal, but we got something massive too: Vince! The whole raison d’’être of the deal was conceived in 2016 and 2017 so Green votes didn’t scupper Liberal Democrat chances in two winnable
parliamentary seats. The Greens stood aside, but they wanted something in return –- now they clearly have it, and so do we in the form of our party leader and major asset back in Parliament.

It won’t be possible to replicate the Richmond model everywhere. But in places like Richmond, where there are a number of two- and three-member wards, and where both Liberal Democrats and Greens are strong, failure to cooperate is likely to let the Tories through.

We must also be clear that it wasn’t’ the Green deal’ that won the party Richmond council. That was an astonishing achievement that would have happened even without cooperation with the Greens, and it’’s reassuring that both parties are edging towards not having a coalition, with the Liberal Democrats governing alone, albeit ‘in constructive dialogue’ with the Greens. But given how long and slow the road back from our pre-2015 position is proving to be, first-past-the-post means we must use opportunities to work with like-minded parties. And Richmond has shown that they can bear fruit.

* Chris Bowers is a two-term district councillor and four-time parliamentary candidate. He writes on cross-party cooperation and in 2021 was the lead author of the New Liberal Manifesto.

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  • “”””As such, it would be easy to say the Greens got the better deal, but we got something massive too: Vince! “”””

    Vince’s majority was so large that it’s evident the Greens standing aside was not a remote factor in his success

    “”””But in places like Richmond, where there are a number of two- and three-member wards, and where both Liberal Democrats and Greens are strong””””

    Are the Greens that strong in Richmond?

  • The question that occurs to me is: How many Lib Dems were elected because of the Greens?

    For example, in Mortlake and Barnes a LibDem won the third seat by one vote. I presume that if there had there been a Green candidate in that ward the Conservative would have won that seat instead.

    So if 4 Lib Dems won their seats because of the pact, then the NET effect was that 4 Green seats were won at the expense of the Conservatives.

  • William Fowler 7th May '18 - 2:14pm

    Looks like we are moving to a two season Britain (winter/summer), almost too hot to walk ten miles today down on the South Coast… Green Democrat Party could catch the mood!

  • Without the pact we would be up between 1 and 6 net. The long term question will be what damage has been don’t to the squeeze message. The labour party was elimated or kept out of the three SW London councils – why let in the Greens?

  • This alliance helped the Greens and didn’t really help us. Do you really think they’ll stand down now in Parliamentarh seats where they have councillors? There is a good chance we will have screwed over our chances long term in at least one of these wards.

    The Greens have never had particular strength in Richmond, we have let them into the council to no particular benefit for us. It is clear that a large chunk of our voters refused to vote for a Green candidate, thus artificially inflating the Conservative vote.

    It is probable we might not have taken councillors in East Sheen, Mortlake or Hampton North, but there is a decent chance we might have taken more in South Richmond (not to mention having Lib Dem’s rather than Greens in the four wards they were elected in!).

    In a closer race, we would have ceded control of the council to the Conservatives due to how far behind us the Greens ran. This experiment was a failure not a success – our brilliant performance versus the Tories just disguised that.

  • You will need to be very careful. You have gifted the Greens – a declining force according to the opinion polls – 4 seats, so you need to get the relationship right going forward. An LD administration with ongoing constructive dialogue sounds right.

  • Paul Pettinger 7th May '18 - 2:36pm

    The innovative and thoughtful cross party working that the Richmond local party and Greens have engaged in has worked well and may help create conditions for more sensible and beneficial cross party working elsewhere, especially in key seats. We have honed our campaigning abilities in the past by sharing best practice. The Richmond local party and Greens should be congratulated, and we should look at what they are achieving and consider where it might be replicated. Thank you!

  • @David Raw
    “”””It could well be argued- and I do – that between 2010-15 Caroline Lucas stood for more of the traditional radical Liberal values than our own party leadership did.””””

    No she didn’t. She stood up for radical socialist values (which I appreciate many Liberal Democrat members hold).

    But I do value her contribution in Parliament, especially keeping ecological issues on the agenda

  • I agree with Iain, as above. the Liberal Democrats would have won those four seats anyway, so this represents a loss of four seats for us nationally. Also, once the Greens are allowed to take hold they often undermine you and some propose bizarre and unpopular policies. Some examples of what the Local Green Councillors have done in my area of Brighton:-
    – Closed down and sold off cheaply Health and Social Care buildings
    – Removed safety Railings and Pelican Crossings at a busy Road Junction despite two-thirds of people opposing it in a consultation and a massive petition against the plans.
    – Demolished a Landmark Community Pub (built in Victorian times) without consulting local people. Ironically, that Pub had helped to prevent a controversial road widening scheme in the late 1980’s
    – Failed to build Affordable and Social Housing over the period they were in control of the Council.
    The Greens and Lucas are full of spin but actually have some very strange policies and can be quite illiberal in their approach. They can have an authoritarian approach to greenism and the local experience shows that they have little respect for the needs of disabled people and older people. Also. little respect for heritage at times.

  • Perhaps more important than Twickenham was the Greens not standing in Richmond Park in the by-election or in 2017. Their vote was 6% in 2015 – less than our by-election majority and very nearly securing us another MP at the General Election.

    It also surely sends the electorate in that area a strong signal about the Liberal Democrats – that we are prepared to be adults and work with other parties and our green and progressive credentials (after the coalition) in area where I suspect that quite a lot of people would have been tempted to vote Green rather than us – both at the General and the local elections – even if the ultimate result was to let in the Tories.

    However… we have to be careful in giving other parties a toehold that subsequently lets them grow at our expense – and as is noted there are relatively few areas and circumstances where this might work.

  • The Greens are a separate Party that stand for something different. Their so-called “green” policies can be quite authoritarian. The “spin” that is put out by the Greens and Lucas in our area is staggering. Ms. Lucas is indeed a Doctor of Spin! Under the “Green” Council administration in Brighton and Hove, the rate of recycling fell to below 25% due to their bizarre policies, which included removing all doorstep recycling collections in many areas. They decided to prioritise the spending of £40Million of Public Money on the i360 Corporate Pod rather than much-needed Affordable and Social Housing. Their build rate for affordable housing was very poor even though we have a severe housing problem in Brighton and Hove. Their record on conserving heritage is not very good. They closed down and sold off Health and Social Care buildings. They have often hampered public transport and caused more congestion/ pollution by narrowing the road space at important junctions. They seem to care little about pedestrian safety since they are so keen on removing Guard Railings and Pelican Crossings, to the detriment of many people including those with health conditions, disabilities and older people…….

  • Iain – I’m frankly astounded you see this as a ‘failure’. I’d say it was a resounding success – without the pact with the Greens, we wouldn’t have won any councillors in Mortlake, East Sheen, or in South Richmond – and that’s just on the Richmond side of the river. We do need to think carefully going forward, but presumably because of this the Greens will be willing to stand aside again at the next general election too, which can only help us.

    Just how well we’d have done without the pact with the Greens, I guess we’ll never know now – but to me, this ‘experiment’ was clearly effective.

  • Do not give the Greens anything, we need them out of the game.

  • Paul Pettinger 7th May '18 - 6:05pm

    Eeally theakes?

  • Mick Taylor 7th May '18 - 6:05pm

    Progressive alliances are not something new. In 1906 the Liberals had a pact with Labour which saw Labour gets 50 plus seats, when otherwise they would have had very few. OK so the Liberal got over 400 seats, but it is arguable that many of those 50 seats would have gone our way as well. Yet by giving Labour a foothold in parliament we laid the foundation for our near destruction in the future.
    The problem with ‘progressive’ alliances is that they are often not progressive and almost always give a boost to the smallest party in the deal at the expense of the largest one. The Greens are highly illiberal in their approach to green issues and we have to be very careful when we do deals with them.
    It would perhaps have been a more honest headline, ‘ Progressive Alliances CAN work – in very limited circumstances’

  • Paul Pettinger 7th May '18 - 6:13pm

    Really theakes? Had the Greens not stood down in Westmorland and Lonsdale + OXWAB we prob would not have got Layla Moran elected or our then Leader re-elected to the Commons last June. Can you imagine the negative impact of that on our standing? There are many key seats where building goodwill and cooperating with Greens can help us advance and grow.

  • paul barker 7th May '18 - 6:30pm

    We need to be quite clear what we are talking about, if we mean Local agreements with The Greens in England & Wales then say so in the Headline. There are no other possible Progressive Alliances because there are no other Progressive Parties, at least none with significant support.
    I would not want to rule out possible National Alliances in future but they would have to be very specific & Short-Term – a 2 Year deal for Electoral Reform, for example.
    There are plenty of “Progressives” in Labour but they have no prospect of gaining control of their Party & dont have the guts to break away, not yet at least.

  • John Marriott 7th May '18 - 8:49pm

    Mick Taylor is quite right that so called alliances or pacts go back a long way. It was thanks to such a deal with the Liberal Party at the beginning of the 20th century that Labour Leader, James Ramsay McDonald, was able to win one of Leicester’s two parliamentary seats, with the Liberals taking the other, thus keeping the Tories out. I even have a letter he wrote from his home in Lossiemouth thanking my grandfather and his local chapel for arranging and inviting him to a fund raising event before the 1906 election.

    If your core vote is likely to struggle to reach 20% in most years and usually hovers around 10%, it makes sense to do a deal with a party like the Greens. After all, if PR ever becomes reality cooperation between political parties at least after an election may become the norm.

  • Local cooperation with the explicit consent of local members is reasonable.

    But it is not a national blueprint, and should not be a reason for the wholesale removal of Liberal Democrat candidates from ballots where Liberal Democrats absolutely deserve to have a viable Liberal Democrat to vote for.

    This is particularly true of a party who I suspect incubated many of the Momentum activists now rejoining New Old Labour.

    And whose members sneered and jeered when Nick Clegg lost his seat – despite the country needing his unashamedly pro-european voice in parliament.

    The Greens are not just a load of Vegetarian Lib Dems.

    For additional clarity:
    Labour are not Trade Union Lib Dems.
    SNP are not Kilt Wearing Lib Dems.
    Plaid Cymru are not Consonant-Addict Lib Dems.
    Conservatives are not Free Market Lib Dems.

    Only Lib Dems are Lib Dems.

    Work with other parties to achieve common goals – but be wary of alliances that sacrifice too much.

  • Remember that the Greens undermined the Liberal Democrats in many Parliamentary Seats in 2015 and some in 2017. They actually targeted Cardigan in 2017, a seat that was narrowly lost. Once they get Councillors elected in a Local Authority they often go on to undermine and oppose. They also support an Independent Scotland and Wales. Many of them support Euthanasia and enforced Population Control (who does that remind you of?).

  • Michael Wilson 7th May '18 - 9:35pm

    This article has been written by someone who has no knowledge at all of the agreement, how it worked in practice and what other events helped shape the result on the ground. I’ve visited the Sellafield nuclear reprocessing plant it doesn’t mean I could write a manual on the successful decommissioning of nuclear waste.

  • Remember David Icke, former Leader of the so-called “Greens”?
    Are you similar to the only “Green” member of the House of Lords and many “Green” Party members who support BREXIT?
    Do you think that a Party should be based on the “Cult of Personality”?
    Agree with Euthanasia and Population Control?
    Have little respect for Heritage?
    Support the break up of the U.K.?
    Don’t mind putting extreme greenism before Individual Freedom and Social Justice?
    You would probably like the “Green” Party!

  • Peter Watson 7th May '18 - 10:28pm

    @AM “And whose members sneered and jeered when Nick Clegg lost his seat – despite the country needing his unashamedly pro-european voice in parliament.”
    To be fair, a lot of non-Greens enjoyed that moment as well. And long before 2017, Nick Clegg lending his voice to a good cause was almost guaranteed to sink it, including the pro-european argument.

  • Tony Greaves 7th May '18 - 10:47pm

    The Greens actually did badly almost everywhere on 3rd May. Richmond was one of their few “success stories”. Just saying…

  • Nom de Plume 7th May '18 - 10:47pm

    I think Richmond LibDems should decide what coalition arrangements are best for themselves, not commentators on the outside.

  • OnceALibDem 7th May '18 - 11:05pm

    Dan’s point above is further reinforced by the full result in that ward:
    BROWN, Robin Liberal Democrat Party 2636 21.98% Elected
    MILLARD, Jim Liberal Democrat Party 2439 20.34% Elected
    BAXENDALE, Dylan Neil Green Party 1738 14.50% Elected
    ARBOUR, Tony Conservative Party 1642 13.69% Not elected
    WEBB, Suzy P Conservative Party 1280 10.68% Not elected
    HARRISON, Chris Conservative Party 1275 10.63% Not elected
    TUTCHELL, Eva Labour Party 415 3.46% Not elected
    LOEWENSTEIN, Caroline Anne Labour Party 307 2.56% Not elected
    WARD, Gerard Elliott Labour Party 258 2.15% Not elected

    It looks like c.360 ‘Lib Dem’ voters went 2 Lib Dem, 1 Tony Arbour. As Dan points out it is only really luck that the third seat went green not Tory.

    This was a really counterproductive way to do this sort of ‘deal’. Not least because it makes the LIb Dems and Greens ‘joint candidates’ and reduces the amount they cumulatively have to spend on the campaign.

  • Nom de Plume has it right. Surely the whole point of localism is that the local party decides what’s in its best interest. I’m not a great fan of excessively tribal politics. Here on the Wirral, we stood candidates in 21 out of 22 wards. We didn’t stand a candidate in my own ward (Birkenhead Tranmere), where we had little support anyway, in order to maximise the chances of a very good defending Green councillor, who prevailed by about 70 votes despite the full weight of the Labour machine being thrown at him. I hope this sort of practical, on-the-ground, cooperation can continue.

  • I’ve been away from home for most of the last week, and not had a chance to review the results in the kind of detail many on here clearly have managed, but I’m disappointed to see anyone to say that an experiment has ‘clearly failed’ because they have spotted apparent flaws in the result. Surely the point of any experiment is to learn!

    I feel like we’ve had this conversation before, and many people form a view based on what they think of the Greens, which is often based on a specific, or very local experience, which isn’t always applicable to other scenarios or areas. IMO, the Greens are a very broad church, both in terms of their personal politics and their quality as potential public servants, and we would do well to remember that.

    Greens believe in local decision-making, and so do we, apparently. So this has to be the kind of decision taken at a local level based on our own local needs, and careful consideration of the individual candidates the local Greens want us to work with. It’s clearly not suited for all parts of the country, and there will always be some LibDems and Greens who would rather vote for a third party.

    Both ourselves and the Greens believe in electoral reform, and I’m a big fan of collaborative working, and sometimes we have to put our money where our mouth is and that means finding ways to work with people from other parties.

    Time will tell how everyone works together on the council, and in that respect, the experiment has not ended. We can’t expect elected members from other parties to always agree with us, but we can reasonably expect support on areas of mutual interest. I’d be disappointed if any Green candidate we ‘supported’ was overly aggressive in opposition for the sake of creating a headline in the local paper, but it’s only right they want to remain distinct, as we do.

    The bigger benefit, surely, comes at a national level when voters sympathetic to the Greens don’t have a viable local candidate and are trying to decide between Labour and ourselves. We should use these collaborations to promote our environmental credentials, which are usually superior to Labour.

  • Richard Underhill 8th May '18 - 9:43am

    In the Scottish referendum the NO campaigners wore each other’s colours and confused the electorate. The tactic is clearly risky, but we should co-operate where we agree.
    The pollution issues around Heathrow are so serious that they dominate politics.
    Tory MP Zac Goldsmith resigned his seat over the issue and caused the bye-election in which Caroline Lucas supported our candidate. Our candidate won, partly because of Zac’s disgraceful campaign for London Mayor, as supported by David Cameron at PMQ on behalf of the Nasty Party.
    While campaigning for a fair electoral system for MPs we must remember that the current system is First Past the Post in single member seats.
    Caroline Lucas was elected as an MEP on a proportional system in the south east of England before she became an MP in Brighton Pavilion. There is a substantial overlap on policy. She is a well informed pro- European at this critical time. She moved a bill in the Commons for votes at 16, which was supported en bloc by the SNP, but not by Labour who might be thought to be possible beneficiaries on tribal grounds, but struggle to agree on what their own interests are.
    Labour seem to have forgotten that they had more MPs than the National Teenage Party and helped to reduce the voting age from 21 to 18 on Harold Wilson’s calculations of tribal interest.
    Before the 2015 general election a colour magazine (Sunday Times?) offered some unusual pairings. Vince Cable, who had once compared Gordon Brown to Mr Bean, was polite to her, and would have been willing to introduce her to his friends, but she had differences. I do not know whether she dances.
    Green control of Brighton council was not entirely successful and journalists kept asking Caroline Lucas about local government matters. In frustration she retorted “Why not ask me about some national matters?”

  • LBRUT Borough party member here. Yes, it is probable that we would have won the third seat in the four Wards where the Greens succeeded. However, can the armchair critics be equally sure that, had Greens not stood down in most Wards and their voters not largely backed the joint ticket, that we would have won the seats we did? Consider: one seat in Easrt Sheen, one in Hampton North, two in North Richmond; all won by fewer than 50 votes; one each in South Richmond and in Mortlake, won by single figures. Yes, in hindsight, the bore’s best friend, we would probably have won the Borough whatever, though more narrowly. But when this pact was agreed, starting a year ago, that was slightly less obvious than it appears to be to some now.

  • Good to see this has worked for you guys. I do agree that in this Election the benefits to us where small and that this more a repayment election for them standing down in Richmond in by election and the two seats in the GE. I feel that greens are as bad if not worse then Corbyn labour. They are authritirian and have a lot memeber who see being Green as being very very socialist. The task is to work together where our objectives match but we have be careful and keep a health distance.

  • Peter Watson 8th May '18 - 12:12pm

    @OnceALibDem “It looks like c.360 ‘Lib Dem’ voters went 2 Lib Dem, 1 Tony Arbour.”
    This is quite interesting in itself and might have some bearing on the interaction between progressive alliances and local circumstances in Richmond and elsewhere.
    Perhaps Tony Arbour simply had strong personal support. Or maybe the layout of the ballot form meant that unobservant voters thought Tony Arbour was the third Lib Dem candidate? Do voters in Richmond perceive that Lib Dem & Tory are relatively interchangeable but going Green is a more radical step?

  • Mick Taylor 8th May '18 - 12:28pm

    David Raw. Of course it was, but we let Labour get a toehold in parliament and that gave them kudos and they went on to overtake us and nearly destroy us. Without that ‘gift’ they would have had a lot more difficulty in getting MPs elected. It benefited them and didn’t really benefit us, though perhaps it looked a good idea before the 1906 election. The point I’m making is that we shouldn’t see such alliances with rose tinted spectacles. Local short term agreements should, rightly, be left to the judgement of local parties, but national agreements are a different kettle of fish.

  • Rob Parsons 8th May '18 - 12:34pm

    I find it interesting that some posts treat the council elections as a standalone event, whereas it was part of a deal embracing Parliamentary elections. Yes, the Greens did well here, but we already had the pro quo, which was their standing aside in Parliamentary elections. The benefit from the two for the LibDems was tangible, I would say.

    I also think that you cannot account for the results in numbers alone. It would be very interesting to do an in depth survey of voters’ motivations. For instance, were some people motivated to decide on candidates, or motivated to go out and vote, because they saw two parties acting in a grown up manner instead of the usual squabbling?

    Perfect agreement will never exist, but that does not mean that we should not work with other people where we can find agreement. It seems obvious to me that there are many places in the country where an accommodation with the Greens would be a non starter. That should not prevent people from trying it where it is a starter.

    I find the tone of some posts in response to this article very interesting. Yes, we know that there are places where the Greens work against us. We know that some of them are authoritarian. We know that some of them are incompetent. But the same can be said of the LibDems. There are almost as bg divisions within the LibDems as between us and the Greens. Some of our members go to extraordinary lengths to attack other members. (I have to admit that sometimes those who are attacked deserve it.) I tried a thought experiment. I went through each post above substituting in my mind the phrase “other LibDems” for “Greens”. Most of them still made perfect sense. We are not perfect any more than the Greens are. We all have to work with twisted wood.

    All of this does not mean that we should respond to tribal Greens in like manner. If we want to do our politics properly, then we should be ready to cultivate support where we can find it.

  • Blimey, what tribalist curmudgeons a lot of you are. I know the coalition hurt but still…

    Congratulations to my borough’s party, whose tireless campaigning, open-mindedness and honour saw us to a memorable victory, with the bonus of our Green friends also thriving. As they deserved after their support in the recent general and by-elections.

  • Patrick C Smith 8th May '18 - 1:56pm

    The voting evidence is that it was the L/D `landslide’ in Richmond on May 3rd that tipped the ballot box scales, where special local conditions, undoubtably applied, in this Borough, the majority of voters dislike Labour at any price but have a penchant for the `Greens’ in a few wards.

    Residents prefer the more competent led Liberal Democrats `listening first’ local polices.

    There appears to be a greater match and proximity between what the typical voter wants his Local Council to do for him/her and implement in office and the Liberal Democrat message in Richmond and SW London.

    In terms of the `pact’ with Greens beware next time as something coherent needs to be worked based on mutuality but it seems very impressive and optimistic that a new arrangement can be understood.

    It is a great tribute to the L/D local leadership that, in one recent not to distant, Parliamentary By-Election in Richmond Park there proved to be a magnanimous and successful complimentary `deal’ that was hammered out with the `Greens’ resulting in a gravitas win for the LB Dems.

    I take counsel from the positive vibes and commentators that Richmond Local party, is one of the most `sophisticated’, in terms of ` tactical voting in the country and share the believe that new pledges will probably yield good dividends, for L/Ds in future elections, in this neck of the woods.

  • These stats may illuminate the debate. Or not

    LDem: Vote share: 46.7% (+19.9) Seats: 39 (+24)
    Grn: 4.5% (-8.2) 4 (+4)
    Con: 37.6% (-1.8) 11 (-28)
    Lab: 10.4% (-0.7) 0 (-)

  • By election next month Lewisham East. Greens did I believe outpoll us across the Borough last week. That is the threat they pose. If we are to advance we have to see them off pronto, no messing, no pacts, nothing.

  • Nom de Plume 8th May '18 - 4:55pm

    @ David

    I interpret those stats as justification for the agreement with the Greens in Richmond. The Con share of the vote was only down by 1.8% and a loss of 28 seats! 9.2% of the LDem vote has come from somewhere else.

  • Meanwhile, there is to be a parliamentary by election in Lewisham East. It is relevant to this thread because of the result of the local elections in that constituency last week. The Greens seem to have a significant presence (although they did lose their single councillor to Labour).
    LEWISHAM EAST local election results, 3/5/18 (source: @britainelects)
    Lab: 48.7% (+7.2 since 2014)
    Con: 18.9% (+4.5)
    Grn: 14.9% (+4.7)
    LDem: 12.9% (+1.2)
    UKIP: 1.3% (-6.6)
    [Oth]: 3.3% (-9.8)

  • Nom de Plume 8th May '18 - 7:37pm


    The Greens are a party with different policies and priorities to the LibDems. Green Party policies appeal to some people more than LibDem policies. It is not possible to “see them off”. The most one can do is try to convince people that the LibDems represent them better and that they should vote differently. Some people are not going to be convinced. Pacts have a place. It is the FPTP system that make pre-election agreements and tactical voting sometimes necessary.

  • Laurence Cox 8th May '18 - 8:17pm

    Those criticising the Richmond LibDems for entering into an agreement with the local Greens might like to read this:

    which discusses Eric Groenendyk’s work. Although he is dealing with the Republican/Democrat polarization (being American); perhaps the issue is reflected on this side of the pond in the difficulties of forming a progressive alliance of the Left. If he is right about the cause of polarization, it could be a result of the Party we support (here mostly the Lib Dems) failing to deliver on its promises.

    We had an effective (informal) progressive alliance under Blair/Ashdown before the 1997 GE and for some time afterwards; while the Coalition Government under Cameron/Clegg failed in a number of areas with which we are only too familiar. So we rationalise our disappointments with our own Party by being even more negative about other parties, even those close to ours on the political spectrum.

    The whole paper by Groenendyk “Competing Motives in a Polarized Electorate: Political
    Responsiveness, Identity Defensiveness, and the Rise of Partisan Antipathy” is open access and I recommend reading it.

  • Nom de Plume: the ‘missing’ votes came from UKIP. But we don’t talk about that, do we…..

  • I think this is great news. On a national scale, FPTP is rigged against both us and the Greens, and the simple fact is that neither of us will have proper representation until that changes. Until then, it’s better to work together against that system than to fight against each other.

  • Kay Kirkham 9th May '18 - 5:37pm

    If I was one of the Greens elected courtesy of the Lib Dems, I’d already be plotting with my fellow Green councillors and Green Party activists on how I could use the base on the council and the allowances that go with it to campaign, leaflet and remove some Lib Dems next time round.

  • OnceALibDem 9th May '18 - 7:39pm

    Kay – that’s because you (and Bill le Breton) actually understand politics rather than thinking five good policies and general good thoughts will get you somewhere.

  • Rob Parsons 9th May '18 - 7:59pm

    Kay – I imagine the LibDems in Richmond are alert to that possibility.

  • Agreed, Chris: as a one-time SDP member, I heard unwelcome echoes of Cyril Smith’s “should have been strangled at birth” comment in a few contributions, including from another former SDP-er who (used to be part of my local Party and) should know better…

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    Peter Hirst, The cost-of-living crisis is real and will be worse after April when the energy price goes up by £500 and lots of people will receive £1050 le...
  • Martin
    Thanks Mel and Nick. Note, I wrote it looks rather lie insider trading not that it is insider trading. I still find it hard to understand how short selling w...
  • Mel Borthwaite
    I can see why this measure will be supported across the political spectrum. Those advocating for employees will believe this extends workers’ rights. Those ad...