The results from the two local by-elections of yesterday featuring Green Party candidates were as follows:
Ashford DC, Beaver: UKIP 373 (42.1%, +11.6%), Labour 243 (27.4%, -3.6%), Conservative 240 (27.1%, +0.2%), Green 31 (3.5%, -3.8%).
Brighton UA, East Brighton: Lab 1488 (57.5%, +11.1%), Con 514 (19.9%, -2.6%), Green 286 (11.1%, -8.5%), UKIP 152 (5.9%), Lib Dem 116 (4.5%, -3.4%), Independent 31 (1.7%).
Even though Brighton's Labour Party's meetings were suspended during the by-election campaign in East Brighton amidst Owen Smith's challenge to Jeremy Corbyn, Labour actually managed a swing of nearly 10% against the Green Party even though our candidate was a respected activist within the area. Meanwhile, in Ashford, UKIP made a surprise gain caused by dissatisfaction with many working-class Labour voters over Jeremy's leadership of Labour even though UKIP is in flux at the moment with its own leadership election. The Conservatives made no headway in either of these by-elections, or any others that occurred yesterday, despite having a 10 point lead over Labour in national opinion polls. However, since Theresa May only took office last month, this is just a 'honeymoon period' for the Conservatives that could turn sour soon enough as it has done for both Labour and the Conservatives in the past. Turnout did not drop that much in yesterday's by-elections despite the fact that at this time many British people are on holiday somewhere, and this would be particularly true of many Conservative (and Liberal Democrat) voters who tend to be drawn from more affluent sections of the British people.
Earlier this week, Jeremy stated in national media as well as The Brighton Argus that he would not enter a Progressive Alliance with the Green Party, even in Brighton. However, I would likewise not accept a Progressive Alliance with Labour either for three good reasons (other reasons do exist, of course):
1. Labour have shown themselves, particularly over the last two years, to care more about their entitlement over the progressive vote rather than defeating the Conservatives; at the same time they won 14 council seats from my Green colleagues earlier this year they made an overall loss of 18 councillors nationwide, with some of these in key battlegrounds like Amber Valley and Calderdale (see my blog posts of May 2016 for further details). Labour has also shown itself not to care much about the general green agenda (especially regarding solutions to global warming and environmental damage), no matter what some more radical Labour MPs have tried to claim.
2. Generally speaking, only Labour would benefit from such a pact and it would be detrimental to the Green Party and green politics in the long term. In only two constituencies, Somerton & Frome and the Isle of Wight, did the Greens come ahead of Labour without also winning the constituency. It would also deprive so many voters of the chance to vote for a forward-thinking alternative with new ideas and a genuine willingness to change our broken political and socio-economic systems in the UK.
3. The Green Party can win elections without help, and indeed has had to. In fact, it was Labour we won Brighton Pavilion from in the first place back in 2010 (and before 1997, it was a safe Conservative seat). The same applies to our early council gains in areas like Malvern Hills, Stroud, and Torridge. Green potential exists everywhere, and all of you can benefit from our vision in at least some meaningful ways.