Fighting every seat – why Greens should reject electoral alliances
Updated: Apr 10, 2021
First published here on Bright Green.
When I joined the Green Party seven years ago, it was because it’s the only party which takes seriously the physical reality that infinite economic growth is impossible on a finite planet. I had voted and been supportive of the Liberal Democrat’s and the Conservatives, but studying environmental science and climate change at university showed me that neoliberal politics was failing to deliver a sustainable society for the common good.
The severity of the crisis we find ourselves in was played out over the past week. The so-called ‘natural party of government’ continued to tear itself apart over ‘the Europe question’ by electing a man whose political career is overtly based on a fictionalised caricature of himself, who then selected a far-right cabinet. Two days later, temperature records were broken on a day of extreme heat, probably driven by a human-caused climate emergency.
Meanwhile, the official opposition continually fails to find a position on the main constitutional question driving our politics – whether to support Brexit – and finds itself at the centre of reinvigorated anti-Jewish hate. On a Newsnight special, the two candidates running for leader of the Liberal Democrat’s affirmed their commitment to global annihilation in the event of nuclear response being presented as an option by the military to the government.
A few weeks before these events, Green Party members had received an email seeking their input on a Remain alliance with other political parties. The concept of the Remain alliance, or ‘Unite to Remain’, has unavoidable similarities to the ‘Progressive Alliance’, which saw Greens standing aside for parties including Labour, which in turn made no concessions nationally towards Green policies. Labour also committed staff time and used Corbynista outriders to campaign against Caroline Lucas MP in Brighton, highlighting the lengths they were willing to go to, to expand their tribalism.
The Green Party is a political party, seeking to gain votes and elect politicians to the halls of power. Our core political project is to build a sustainable society for the common good.
Any form of Brexit will be damaging for the UK and the EU, and will have a negative effect on environmental protections, workers rights, and our ability to tackle global issues like multinational corporations avoiding tax, and climate change. Greens believe we need to have a People’s Vote with the negotiated deal and remain on the ballot paper, campaign to remain in the EU and seek to reform it. The EU will likely remain one of our primary trading partners after Brexit anyway, so we should absolutely campaign to keep our seats in the democratically elected European Parliament, giving us a voice.
The world’s climate scientists have told us in the IPCC Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5C made clear last year that we have 11 years to take radical, unprecedented action to avert climate catastrophe, something the Green party’s policies address by reshaping the economy, society and political systems.
We’ve spent the past three years talking amongst ourselves about Brexit, rather than dealing with this climate crisis which is likely to end modern life as we know it in the UK and much of the majority world.
Entering into an electoral pact will involve standing aside in some seats for parties including Labour and the Liberal Democrats. Labour is still open to building new coal mines, while the Liberal Democrats are committed to nuclear weapons, neoliberalism and are not there on the necessary action on the climate emergency.
With UK politics so febrile at the moment, there’s no guarantee that Greens entering into an electoral pact will affect national opinion enough to stop Brexit. The risk of denying voters the opportunity to make their voice clear on stopping Brexit AND on tackling the climate emergency, is simply not worth it. We may well spend the next 11 years talking about renegotiations with the EU, during which time we will have missed the opportunity to deal with the climate emergency.
This isn’t about ideological purity, it’s about political strategy in aid of delivering a survivable planet for the near future.
Every extra Green vote will make the other parties think again about their ambition on tackling the climate emergency. So we must campaign for every Green Vote.