Why Greens in English marginals should vote Labour not Lib Dem

Labour are far closer allies to the Greens than the Lib Dems will ever be.

No matter what Boris Johnson, Nigel Farage or Jo Swinson want – it’s clear that this election won’t be a Brexit election. 

In the first week of campaigning, polling revealed 54% of voters would be influenced at the ballot box by parties’ stances on climate breakdown.

Early announcements from parties have focused on this theme, from the Green Party of England and Wales’ pledge to spend £100bn annually on environmental measures to Labour and the Lib Dems’ home insulation plans. Climate and social ruin are taking centre stage.

This will be an election about whether we can deliver the urgent action needed to stave off devastating climate breakdown, or whether our next government lets the planet burn and the people suffer.

It will be an election which determines whether our NHS is carved up and sold off in a Tory-Trump trade deal, or whether it is protected and decades of disastrous privatisation is reversed. 

And it will be an election about whether our economy benefits the mega-rich, the tax avoiders and the billionaires, or whether it is transformed to work for everyone.

For people like me, it’s a no-brainer that the best way to deliver climate justice, to deliver a publicly funded and run and NHS, and to deliver a new economy is to get a big group of Green MPs elected to parliament – either as part of a radical reforming government, or holding one to account. 

But it’s also a no-brainer that our broken, antiquated democracy is the biggest barrier to getting those Greens in parliament. So it’s obvious that Greens must collaborate with other parties, and yes, that means in some places, Green voters holding their nose and voting for the “least worst” option. 

But it’s also obvious that, in England, Greens lending their vote to other parties shouldn’t be lending it to the Liberal Democrats. Those whose memories stretch back just a few years will remember what the Liberal Democrats’ record in parliament and government looks like. 

It looks like trebling tuition fees when they promised to scrap them. It looks like introducing punitive and disgusting benefit sanctions on the most vulnerable in society. It looks like the bedroom tax, Royal Mail privatisation and enabling fracking. 

And it’s no surprise that even in opposition the Liberal Democrats abstained on ending NHS privatisation, or that Jo Swinson accepted donations from the fracking industry.

Nor is it a surprise that the Liberal Democrat climate plans currently aim for net-zero carbon emissions by 2045 – at least 15 years too late, and a death sentence for millions of people in the Global South. Nor that their vision would rely on aimlessly hoping for private companies to deliver climate justice. 

So Greens lending their vote to a Liberal Democrat would be a vote for much of the Tories’ domestic agenda, wrapped in an EU flag. 

But most importantly, Greens lending their vote to the Liberal Democrats would in almost every scenario not lead to a Liberal Democrat getting elected.

The most they could possibly hope for in the election is around 50 MPs – and that would be on an astonishingly good night. That means that in almost every constituency, a vote for the Liberal Democrats is a vote for a losing candidate. 

That brings us to Labour. Despite marked improvements in recent years, there are obvious shortcomings in Labour’s election platform.

Their climate proposals – even with the groundswell of pressure from the membership, pioneered by Labour for a Green New Deal – still fall short.

Their lacklustre support for freedom of movement and for migrants won’t solve the global migration crisis.

And their lack of ambition on political reform means our political system would remain broken even after the next Labour government.

But the reality is they are far closer allies to Greens than the Liberal Democrats will ever be. And crucially, in dozens of seats, they are the obvious and only alternative to the Tories. 

In the vast majority of seats in England  voters who are naturally Green, should absolutely be voting Green. We need to pour all our energy into getting fantastic Greens elected to parliament – people like Vix Lowthion on the Isle of Wight, or Carla Denyer in Bristol. 

But for those Green-minded voters in marginal seats the only choice is Labour. Greens like me might not like that, but the reality is that in places like Stroud, Chingford or Canterbury the way to deliver the change we want to see is to elect Labour MPs. 

Let’s help, not hinder the prospects of a Corbyn government by Christmas. And let’s make sure there’s a strong group of radical, visionary, talented Green MPs to hold that government to account – and make sure that it really delivers for the many, not the few.

Chris Jarvis is a Green Party council candidate in Oxford and the editor of Bright Green

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13 Responses to “Why Greens in English marginals should vote Labour not Lib Dem”

  1. Eric Walker

    To Michael Gold who asks why do the leaders of the Green Party jump into bed with the LibDems? Simple answer is because the leaders of the Labour Party ( note I say the leaders I do not include the rank and file) are arrogant and treat the Green Party with contempt. I understand that they are going to oppose Caroline Lucas. The Lib Dems decided not to stand. Jeremy Corbyn is a man I admire in many respects but I hear that during local elections in Islington, Labour had 47 of 48 seats. Just one opposition. A Green Party councillor. In which ward did Jeremy go to canvass? Yep. He canvassed against the solitary Green councillor. Talk about arrogance and putting self interest first!

  2. Mark Blackburn

    How can this not be an election about Brexit? Of course climate breakdown is the greatest global emergency, but the short-term nature of our political system (exacerbated by FPTP) means it’s almost totally about Brexit; today’s developments with the Brexit Party illustrate that. Who was leaning on Farage?
    So this election should be all about stopping the Tories forming a majority government – realistically, that’s the best we can hope for. Which means all major ‘progressive’ parties putting aside their prejudices about Corbyn/Coalition etc etc. How far do you want to go back? Just 2010 or a bit further? I left the Labour Party over Iraq and Blairism, does that mean I wouldn’t vote Labour to keep out a Tory? Of course not.
    Now I’m a Lib Dem and fought internally against the Coalition for 5 years – is my status and opinion invalidated any more by the Coalition than a Labour member’s is by New Labour? You may be right about Swinson, I’m certainly not sure, but that’s a battle for another day. The battle for today is stopping the Tories (and the ensuing NHS carve-up/Trump Tory trade deal), any and every way.
    You mention the Isle of Wight, where the Lib Dem stood down for Vix, the Green candidate, even before the Unite to Remain deal. You suggest supporting Labour in Stroud, where unless I’m much mistaken the Lib Dem has already stood down for the Green, Molly Scott Cato!
    Instead of sniping at Lib Dems, wouldn’t you be better off channelling your energy into getting Labour not to stand against other progressives with a better chance of beating the Tory?

  3. Chris Stockwell

    Check out the last General Election result in 2017 for STROUD where Molly Scott Cato believes she can take the seat.:
    Labour 29994 47% of vote Majority 687
    Conservative 29307 45.9%
    Lib Dem 2053 3.2%
    Green Party 1423 2.25%
    UKIP 1039 1.6%

  4. David

    “Jo Swinson accepted donations from the fracking …” well not quite, she accepted a personal donation from someone who is a director of a company with UNUSED fracking licences. Meanwhile the Labour Party has recieved tens of thousands pounds from a pro-fracking organisation, that has called for tougher police action against anti-frack protesters. Surly Chris Jarvis can not be ignorant of this fact.

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