Greens reject claims of ‘coalition with Tories’ on London Assembly

The Greens instead accused the Labour party of trying to block them from chairing the Transport Committee.

The London Assembly building

The Green party has rejected claims it has formed a coalition with the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats on the London Assembly in a bid to exclude Labour, following last week’s elections.

Instead, it accused the Labour party of trying to block the Greens from chairing the Transport Committee in what it described as a row over the allocation of key Assembly posts.

Following last week’s elections, Labour took the largest number of seats on the Assembly with 11 Members. The Conservatives party took nine seats, the Greens took three and the Liberal Democrats won two. No one party commanded a majority on the Assembly. 

Labour now says the smaller parties have formed a coalition with the Conservative Group, despite standing on very different manifestos earlier this month. It also accused the new coalition of moving to block Labour from taking up their preferred chairs of key committees including on transport and policing.

Len Duvall, Labour’s leader on the Assembly, had earlier slammed Green and Lib Dem Assembly Members (AMs) who he accused of ‘betraying the very people who put them in City Hall’ by forming a ‘coalition’ with the Tories.

He said: “Just a week ago, Green and Lib Dem candidates were standing on supposedly progressive platforms – a week later, they’re in bed with the Tories. They’re betraying the very people who put them in City Hall, and they’re betraying their progressive values. They say they want to reflect the political balance of the Assembly yet they’re supporting each other’s preferences and not Labour’s.

“What we essentially have here is a new coalition. It’s disappointing to see the Lib Dems and Greens backing the Tories this way – they had a choice and they’ve decided to go with those who want to weaken our public services.” 

However, Green Leader Caroline Russell AM wrote in a blog post: “Today was the London Assembly’s annual meeting where we agreed the membership and chairs of scrutiny committees for the year ahead. We were very disappointed at Labour initially trying to block the Greens from chairing the Transport Committee and we worked hard for a fair cross-party agreement. Disappointingly Labour refused in the end to chair any committees when they did not have the votes to impose their preference.

“We are grateful to the Lib Dem and Conservative groups for standing up at this meeting for a proportional distribution of scrutiny work amongst the four parties elected to the Assembly and we look forward to disagreeing sometimes on the many policy issues to come, including the Silvertown Road Tunnel, but the principle of democratic scrutiny is something we can agree on.”

A Green party spokesperson also told LFF that they hope Labour ‘will come back to the table and fully participate in Assembly work to serve the interests of Londoners.’ They also rejected claims there was any formal coalition and said they had only worked hard to ensure the chair of committees were proportionate across the four parties on the London Assembly.

Basit Mahmood is co-editor of Left Foot Forward

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