Sarah Stock is standing as an independent on a 'Save the NHS' platform
The Green Party will not contest the Sleaford by-election, throwing their weight behind a prominent NHS campaigner instead.
In a meeting earlier this month, the East Midlands and South Lincolnshire Green Parties agreed to back Sarah Stock, a key member of the Fighting 4 Grantham Hospital (F4GH) campaign.
The Greens made their little-publicised decision earlier this month, a further attempt to build ‘progressive alliances’ across the country.
Speaking exclusively to Left Foot Forward, Jonathan Bartley, Green Party co-leader, welcomed the local party’s decision:
“As co-leader of the Green Party I am excited to see local parties putting aside tribalism and working across political divides for the common good. In Sleaford we can see another example of a bold decision to take tangible steps toward a progressive alliance.
“That doesn’t mean for a second that we won’t be fighting to win local elections in the area in 2018, or that we won’t stand in the constituency in future elections.”
The Sleaford and North Hykeham by-election was triggered by the resignation of Conservative MP Stephen Phillips on 4 November over the government’s handling of Brexit.
As a safe Tory seat, it could be a testing bed for left-wing parties working together.
The Greens’ decision follows local parties in Richmond and Kingston opting to back the ‘anti-Zac’ vote, supporting the Lib Dem’s Sarah Olney in a campaign focusing strongly on Brexit and Heathrow expansion.
In Sleaford, Stock is standing as an Independent candidate with a ‘Save the NHS’ platform.
There is a long-running campaign to defend Accident and Emergency services in Lincolnshire, in the face of the prospect of rural A&E services being downgraded or closed. Many have been outraged by the decision to close Grantham hospital’s A&E department every night between 6:30pm and 9am since August, due to a lack of staff.
Peter Allen, East Midlands Green Party’s regional co-ordinator said:
“The Green Party believes that a clear challenge to the Government on this crucial issue is needed and that Sarah Stock is the best person to deliver this challenge. As winter approaches the NHS is at crisis point because of government policy. This campaign must send a clear message to the Government to provide adequate funding for the NHS.
“We have met with Sarah and we share her concern about the under-funding of the NHS across Lincolnshire and the rest of the UK.”
The Greens are now calling on Labour to follow suit – as they did in Richmond. Caroline Lucas and Jonathan Bartley made building ‘progressive alliances’ a key plank of their leadership election campaign this summer.
“The Greens ask other progressive parties to put the interests of the people of Sleaford and North Hykeham, and of the country, ahead of party ambition and give Sarah Stock a clear run against government health policy.”
Josiah Mortimer is a contributing editor at Left Foot Forward. Follow him on Twitter.Like this article? Sign up to Left Foot Forward's weekday email for the latest progressive news and comment - and support campaigning journalism by making a donation today.