Progressive Alliance hoping to reap local election rewards in Richmond

The Greens and Liberal Democrats ran a joint campaign for six wards in Richmond Borough for the local elections today.

There were two Liberal Democrat candidates and one Green candidate in the wards of Barnes, Fulwell & Hampton Hill, Ham, Petersham & Richmond Riverside, Hampton Wick, South Richmond and South Twickenham.

Both Liberal Democrat Leader Vince Cable and Green Party leader Caroline Lucas came to Richmond to help canvass votes in target wards such as Ham, Petersham & Richmond Riverside.

A spokesperson for the Richmond and Twickenham Green Party and Twickenham and Richmond Liberal Democrats said: “The two parties are doing this because the deeply flawed first past the post voting system creates a council dominated by just two parties.

“[We] believe that Richmond Council is less representative and its decision-making is poorer for not having a wider range of political voices in the council chamber.

“We hope voters agree that the constraints of the electoral system have forces us to make some difficult choices to get more diverse voices on Richmond Council.

Both parties campaign to change the electoral system to one that is more proportional to how the public have voted.

Richard Bennett, Green Party Coordinator and candidate for South Twickenham said: “The Green Party believes in collaborating with other parties at all levels of our elected bodies to achieve the best outcome for residents.

“Until we have a fairer system, that allows voters to choose equally between a wider range of candidates and parties, we are working with the Liberal Democrats to ensure Richmond Borough has a wider range of representation to the Council after the May elections.”

In 2014, the Liberal Democrats won 15 council seats with 31.78% of the vote, whilst the greens received no seats with 5.99%.

This alliance could also be the Liberal Democrat’s thank you to the Greens for stepping down in crucial elections over the past couple of years, helping Liberal Democrats win back seats in parliament.

In autumn 2016 Liberal Democrat Sarah Olney took the Richmond Park by-election in a stand-off against Zac Goldsmith and in the snap general election last year, Vince Cable won back his seat in Twickenham.

In both constituencies, Green party candidates stood aside.

Frances Foley, campaigns and projects coordinator at Compass, a progressive alliance organisation, said: “It is here that a progressive alliance delivered a mighty blow to the Conservatives and the wider right.

“This year’s local elections are seeing the next chapter of Richmond’s rise as a hotbed of a new politics: candidates from the Liberal Democrats and the Green Party are joining forces to put progressives in charge of Richmond council.

“Together they stand a good chance of taking the council from the Tories, collaborating to protect public services and appose Heathrow expansion.”

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