Labour activist calls on Greens to stand aside in Copeland by-election
A Labour activist has penned an open letter to the Greens calling on the party to stand aside in the upcoming Copeland by-election.
Debate is growing within the Greens about whether to follow the suit of local Richmond Green Party activists recently, and to choose not to stand – offering indirect backing for the progressive candidate who has the best chance of winning.
Chris Mears, a Labour member, wrote on Wednesday ‘Why the Greens must stand down in Copeland – [a] Plea from an ally’ on Wednesday, in a bid to persuade the party to make way for Labour in what is likely to be a tight three-way race.
Mears argues that the only way to change Labour members’ sceptical attitude to the party after the Richmond decision is ‘to treat Copeland as you [the Greens] treated Richmond Park. Labour needs to to see that you are not just the Lib Dems’ eager little brother’, pointing to Caroline Lucas and Jonathan Bartley winning the leadership on a policy of backing progressive alliances.
He continues: ‘Most of the principles that applied in Richmond still apply here – a marginal seat which is not a Green target, the need to diminish/defend against a Tory Majority and effect the parliamentary balance that will determine the nature of Brexit, and a chance to open cross-party dialogue.’
The open letter goes on to argue that Copeland will be seen as a verdict on Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership: ‘A defeat could be disastrous, heralding a return to open civil war in Labour. Some Green tribalists…may be tantalised by the prospect of causing chaos in a rival party. But I know ordinary Green members are pragmatists most concerned with the cause, not party politics, and support Jeremy Corbyn.’
However, it is uncertain as to whether the local Labour party will choose a ‘moderate’ candidate, or a Corbyn-backer, with local Labour supporters reported to be hostile to the leader – aside from the fact that not all Greens back Corbyn’s leadership of the party either.
The Copeland by-election was triggered by Labour MP Jamie Reed announcing his resignation as MP for the area on the 21st December, to take on a role in the nuclear industry. The move will trigger a by-election likely to take place in February.
Labour have held the seat for decades – however, it was won with under a 7% majority in 2015, down on its 2010 result and the lowest share for the party since 1992.
With Labour polling at its lowest level for years, a universal swing at present could hand the seat to the Conservatives, who secured 36% of the vote in 2015, while UKIP got over 15%. The tight race piles pressure on local Greens to step aside.
However, although Labour have not selected their candidate yet, the winner is likely to be a strong supporter of nuclear power, given that the Sellafield nuclear de-commissioning site is a major local employer – something that is bound to make any ‘progressive alliance’ with the Greens more difficult.
You can read the open letter in full here.
Bright Green will be covering the Copeland debate within and outside the Greens as it unfolds.
What we could really do with is a by-election on the Isle of Wight. We came third there behind Tories and UKIP, beating both Labour and LibDem…
Whether or not the Labour activist’s offer contains an offer from them to stand aside somewhere should not be an issue. That sort of approach, of publicly demanding specifics before we consider the idea, will note lead to anything.
I think their candidate simply has to come to the Greens and ask for our support, and if she/he is okay (well, okay-ish, as she/he will still be Labour, not Green), then we should stand down. But I’m somewhat sceptical it will happen, proportional representation shouldn’t be an issue (there are lots of Labour members in favour), but in this part of the country nuclear probably will be…
I think that we should consider stand-downs, but not for any ill-defined ‘progressive alliance’ — how do we agree the demands for that? How do we enforce agreement?
What we need is PR. Here’s my plan, #OneshotPR:
(1) Do a deal on stand-downs in 100 most vulnerable Tory seats, and agree the text of a PR Bill. Participant parties hold special conferences to ratify approach.
(2) PR Coalition wins a majority at the election (which will be fought explicitly one a ‘Tories vs the rest’ basis, which has good knock-on effects).
(3) PR Coalition passes PR Act, dissolves Parliament.
(4) New election fought under PR rules, at which the PR Coalition members are free to stand on whatever manifesto they want.
Yep no offers from Labour where they might stand aside. Just a request, I say put up a Green candidate that is genuinely against N.P. Greens will end up impotent without any reciprocation from beneficiaries of these alliances.
The decision to stand aside should only be made once the other candidates are known & what they are standing for. It is important for all voices to be heard and one that is anti nuclear is important in this area. It was appauling in Richmond Park that the government did not put forward a pro-Heathrow candidate.
The Lib-Dems will also run on a pro renewable energy ticket.
A remain candidate is also important even in areas who voted to leave.
We should ignore this Labour activist and stand to give the voters of Copeland a Green, anti-nuclear alternative, since not everyone in the constituency approves of nuclear power despite many people working for the Sellafield plant.
In any case, we took far more extra votes from the Liberal Democrats than we did from Labour, and we may be able to pick up a few from UKIP if we for example run on a platform of replacing Sellafield with a renewable energy plant and research centre. Labour is losing votes in these areas because it is failing to appeal to traditional rural and semi-urban voters, not because of the Green Party.
Even if nuclear power stops tomorrow we will still need to work on de-commissioning having seen those ponds full of radioactive sludge on TV, more needs to be done, in a green way. Meanwhile renewable energy could make Sellafield more resilient to power cuts.
Here in Barnet we understand that if there was a by election here we would resent other greens telling us what to do in our own constituencies. Not all of us agree on the concept but standing down is a crude way of having an alliance and I would emphasise that there are many other ways of working together towards our aims without standing down.
Anti-nuclear AND in favour of passing legislation to abolish first-past-the post voting system to be replaced by a form of proportional representation where every vote counts.
TL;DR – Labour MP steps down leaving Labour in turmoil, no offer to the Greens just an entitled request for us to stand down.
Even more crucial than the candidates attitude to civil nuclear power is the policy on nuclear weapons. That part of Cumbria is very likely to choose a pro Trident candidate. Due to the importance of the yards at Barrow-in-Furnace.
You make the crucial point at the end – we cannot support a pro-nuclear candidate. We can promote our own jobs strategy linked to nuclear decommissioning and the attempt to deal safely with the legacy of waste – there are generations of GMB jobs in that. There must be an anti-nuclear candidate, the question is, will the LD’s support a Green candidate?