Readers, the results of local by-elections from this week featuring Green Party candidates were as follows:
Hackney LBC, Hoxton West: Labour 951 (68.3%, +11.6%), Conservative 185 (13.3%, +1.2%), Liberal Democrats 133 (9.6%, +3.2%), Green 123 (8.8%, -11.3%)
Lancashire CC, Burnley Central East: Lab 1348 (68.9%, +10.7%), Lib Dem 276 (14.1%, -1.4%), UKIP 249 (12.7%, -6.7%), Green 84 (4.3%).
Medway UA, Rainham Central: Con 1448 (61.1%, +9.9%), UKIP 389 (16.4%, -8.1%), Lab 320 (13.5%, -1.4%), Lib Dem 137 (5.8%), Green 61 (2.6%, -5.2%), English Democrats 14 (0.6%).
Reigate & Banstead BC, Kingswood with Burgh Heath: Con 839 (73.3%, +6.6%), UKIP 155 (13.5%, -8.1%), Lab 96 (8.4%, -3.3%), Green 55 (4.8%). All changes are since May.
One upcoming by-election that sadly will not have a Green Party candidate standing is the Richmond Park by-election, following a decision by both local Green Parties not to stand a candidate: https://www.greenparty.org.uk/news/2016/11/04/green-party-will-not-stand-in-richmond-park-by-election-to-give-best-chance-of-beating-regressive-alliance/ This is based on the idea of a 'Progressive Alliance' being able to oust Zac Goldsmith (standing as an Independent) during said by-election.
I do not believe this will work for four reasons:
1. It means that the Green Party, at a critical moment when an environmental issue deep in the hearts of local voters (i.e. the planned third runway at Heathrow Airport), misses a golden opportunity to place itself as the true party of progressive environmentalism and an alternative, bright future for the UK inside or outside of the European Union.
2. The Labour Party are not interested in reciprocating here, which they made clear by announcing Christian Wolmar as their PPC recently.
3. It deprives voters of Richmond Park who are not impressed with the Liberal Democrats' past record (and that includes environmental matters and renewable energy) the chance to vote for a real Green and reject Zac.
4. It fails to factor in personal votes for particular MPs or candidates, and wrongly assumes voters will automatically switch to one other particular party or another if their preferred party is not standing in their ward or constituency. Many of them will just stay at home, as proved to be the case in the Haltemprice & Howden by-election of 2008 and the Batley & Spen by-election of 2016.
Speaking of by-elections, the rural Lincolnshire constituency of Sleaford & North Hykeham will experience one for the first time in its 19-year history, following the resignation of Stephen Phillips. I call on all Green Party members in Lincolnshire reading this to help ensure that people at this by-election (whose date is yet to be confirmed) have the chance to vote Green for the very first time.